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Costa Rica Pre-Med & Public Health (Session 2)

July 13, 2019

Tonight we arrived to Costa Rica. Our leader, Jorge, brought us to a restaurant called “Rosti Pollo” that sold Costa Rican food which was interesting. It was our first time eating platanos and we then went to sleep after a long day.

Emily and Christine

July 14, 2019

Today was our first full day of our pre med trip. We started our trip with orientation, and an interesting ice breaker game to have everyone get to know each other. After the orientation, we drove about 20 minutes to the Ark of Herbs. We experienced many different kinds of leaves and fruit trees. Most plants are edible and people use them for medical treatment. It is cool that we learned that humans can use plants to prevent from getting sick and also heal us from pain. At the end of the day, we sat down and talked about our experiences and fun moments. The first day of our trip was awesome!

Emily and Christine

July 15, 2019

After an hour of bumps and windy roads, we finally arrived at our main activity of the day.  Working in a clinic, it was a new exciting and confusing experience for all of us. Some participated in helping examine patients while others check patients in our mobile clinic.  FIMRC is a program that works globally in assisting people to get free health care. They very graciously welcomed us. After seven hours of hard work, we drove back to our hotel. On the way we treated ourselves by stopping at a local supermarket to buy snacks. Finally arriving at the hotel, we had the pleasure of learning to dance Salsa, Bachata, and Creole Swing. We enjoyed ourselves learning about different cultures. To finish the day, we bonded even more by playing a game. With shared laughter and smiles, we are becoming more of a family.

Catherine and Yhajaira

July 16, 2019

On our 3rd day in Costa Rica we continued to work with FIMRC. One group went to a daycare that allowed us to use their space to treat the attendees and help others in the community. The other group stayed at the FIMRC permanent clinic for clinical rotations. Our experience today was very impactful because we got to make a difference in many people’s lives while bonding and having fun. After a long car ride back to the hotel, we had the opportunity to make phone calls home and swim. We then enjoyed a delicious dinner and partook in some fun bonding activities and debrief from the days in the clinics. Today was a super fun day, and I can’t wait for more to come!


July 17, 2019

It’s our fourth day in Costa Rica and we started the day just like the others: breakfast at 7:00 and leaving for our clinical rotations at 7:30. We had to have our luggage packed and ready to go before breakfast so our bags would already be at our next hotel, Heliconias. Although everyone was prepared to play the basketball team from the school where we ate lunch at, our team decided ice cream was more important. Needless to say, Jorge and I were disappointed. Then it was time for the 5 hour bus ride. Everyone prepped themselves for the worst: carsickness and pure boredom, but we were pleasantly surprised when the car ride was only 2.5 hours long! We had dinner at 6:30, traditional rice, salad, and french fries!!! We ended the game by playing another get-to-know-you game, but my team lost 🙁 I’m super excited to room and get to know some people I haven’t talked to much before. Also hyped to see a different side of the medical industry in Costa Rica!


July 18, 2019

We started our fifth day in Costa Rica by breaking off into four groups, each visiting a different government-funded clinic in the local region. In each clinic, we got to see three different aspects of the healthcare process: the nurses’ station, the doctor’s office, and the pharmacy. We all had unique experiences. Some of us got the chance to see a patient’s open abdominal incision, while others practiced taking patients’ vitals in the nurse’s station. After a lunch break, we all got the chance to learn more about the healthcare system in Costa Rica through a Q&A with the Regional Head of Administration of the Ministry of Health. She taught us about the three levels of care in the country, from a primary care physician to complex surgery. We then drove back to our hotel. After an intense game of soccer (with a break for lychees of course), we enjoyed a traditional Costa Rican dinner: spaghetti with tomato sauce. After dinner and another bonding activity, we went on a night hike where Jorge taught us about different types of frogs and plants. We’re all excited for our last day at the clinics and to learn more about the public health side of Costa Rica!

Kat and Natalie

July 19, 2019

We started the day with a choice of a Costa Rican breakfast or pancakes (I obviously chose the Costa Rican option). At 7:30 we left for the same clinics we visited yesterday. We did the same rotations with some clinics, adding the pharmacy option if they didn’t have it the previous day which was super fun. A few girls got to see a patient’s finger be stitched back together and there was a whole broken toe situations at one of the clinics today also. After everyone had a well needed lunch break we met up as a group in La Tigra to sort through recycling. This place was completely founded by people in the community with no government assistance. It started in 2005 where women in the community came together to try and stop the outbreak of dengue, a disease spread by mosquitoes. It is completely run without outside funding or help other than these volunteers. We were split into groups: one painting signs, one sorting plastic bags, one sorting plastic bottles, and one sorting colored paper. It was super fun and it felt very good to be helping the people who do that everyday for the benefit of the community. After that, we came back to the hotel and some of us participated in a yoga session. It was very relaxing and also entertaining. After yoga we chilled a little bit before heading to dinner where we had some very delicious steak (not for the vegetarians obviously), yucca, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, and rice. It was scrumptious. Post-dinner we had more group bonding activities including playing mafia. Next, some of us participated in a night hike with Jorge. It was very different from the previous night with the bugs being very active and jumping all over us (very scary). We did get to see a basilisk lizard and a red poison dart frog. Now we are getting ready for bed and everyone is excited to sleep in before a hike to the waterfall tomorrow!


July 20, 2019

The start of our day was fantastic, we woke up at 8:30 which was two hours later than the time that we usually wake up at. For breakfast, we indulged on a Costa Rican breakfast that included rice, beans, plantains, and eggs. Although we ate similar food to this dish multiple times already, it was still delicious. Today we experienced Costa Rica more like tourists rather than students. We packed our bathing suits and a change of clothes due to the exciting day that awaited us. The buses were packed with us as we began the 30 minute drive to the waterfall. When we got off we began the 10 minute hike down; walked down around 500 steps! Although some of us may have gotten tired, we were amazed by the beautiful view. The waterfall was not very big, but the scenery complimented the waterfall and made the place look straight out of a movie. We spent 30 minutes swimming and relaxing in the chilly, yet comfortable water. We took many photos while we talked, laughed, and overall had a great time.

After drying off, we began our ascend to the gift shop. It was a hard walk, but we all made it to the top. After showering and washing ourselves off, we meet up and split up into groups to eat. We had the decision of eating either pizza, traditional Costa Rican food, or vegetables for the vegetarians and vegans. We were excited to choose what we eat since we had not had the choice during most of the trip. Many choose pizza as they missed their favorite food back home, while choose traditional Costa Rican food with a few others. After finishing our savory meals, we walked around La Fortuna which was a tourist town where we were able to buy souvenirs. We all had a good time walking around the town despite the hot weather. We returned to our hotel and we ate dinner at 6. Many of us were already full, but I was willing to eat the food that others were unable to eat. We met up after dinner to discuss the expectations and different scenarios we may experience in the homestays. The majority of us returned into our cabins and we began to pack as we were going to depart the next day.

– Nick

July 21, 2019

Will Today we left the Heliconias Lodge and said goodbye to the chill bartender at the restaurant. We got to see an alternative clinic with three types of treatment: ionic footbath, massage therapy with essential oils, and floral therapy. Floral therapy seemed to be the most interesting as you basically eat flower oil. Most of the people tried out the ionic footbath as it has a detox effect, showing what problems the person internally has. After we got our individual treatments, we had more rice and beans for lunch and headed for our homestay families in Vera Cruz. Vera Cruz is a small community of roughly 2,000 people. It is extremely hot and humid, and a lot of the locals work at the Pineapple farm. We arrived around 4 p.m. and had a karaoke party with the homestay families. Nick and I “sung” old town road and rick astley’s never gonna give you up. After the party we dispersed with our homestay families. We got really nice homestay families and fire food. Overall, today was a great day. :—)


July 22, 2019

Hi guys! Today we went to ASADA, the place in charge of the aqueduct here in Vera Cruz. We learned about the water crisis on a worldwide scale, but also the effects it has on the people in small towns across the globe, such as Vera Cruz. Their water was poisoned by harmful pesticides in the pineapple farms in and around their village. The strong people living here were forced to go a few months without running water, putting a huge stress on the entire community. They had to be brought water in big trucks and all got limited amounts. Thankfully, they made it through, but it was extremely eye-opening for us as a group. We take long showers, leave the water on while brushing our teeth, etc., but we never stop to think that while we do that, there are people who cannot shower or brush their teeth because there is no water to do so. After that we went back to our homestays for lunch, then met back up and walked around the community to get a better understanding of it. We looked for reference points and mapped the community. Then we made our way back to take a Zumba class. It was super fun, but it was so hot outside that we were extremely sweaty. Our legs are sore from doing so many squats! We went to our homestay for the night and enjoyed more delicious food. Overall a lot of fun and a lot of exercise 🙂

-Skye and Chloe

July 23, 2019

Hey y’all, today we painted the local playground at the recreation center. We had to work with a few colors, but we made it work. First we sanded the wood and then we did about 3 layers of paint. There was about six or seven tires that were painted a very darkish, but lightish blue- some tires also had little red designs to it, which looked very cute. At around twelve, we ate lunch with our host families. After our little lunch with our families, we came back to finish painting, which was very yikes because of the weather, the weather was very hot and some of us got too much sun, also during some point it was raining. The end results of painting the local playground was a success and it was wayyyyy better than before. After painting the local playground, we played a game of fútbol with some local kids. Later, we went back to our homestays to have family time and wash up. Overall, it was a productive and fun day!

-Sophia and Brianna

July 24, 2019

Today, we were able to wake up a little later than usual before going to the local elementary school for a special celebration. Before arriving at the school, we practiced singing the song that we decided to present to the students: Party in the USA. Then, we went to the school and watched many songs, dances and presentations from the kids. It was really cool to see the different ways that people celebrate here in Costa Rica. When it was our turn to share, we introduced ourselves and sang and the kids really seemed to enjoy it! After the assembly, we played with the kids at recess. Many of us played soccer against the kids (and lost) and others talked and got to know some of the younger locals. After a super fun time with the kids, we said goodbye and went to have lunch and spend time with our homestay families. Then we met up again for our next activity — touring a pineapple farm. It was an opportunity that many of us had never had before, teaching us more about the community and Costa Rican agriculture. We rode on a pineapple truck through the fields, as our knowledgeable guide Javier filled us in on the different types of pineapple seeds, and how they are planted, cultivated and harvested. It was amazing to learn about one of Costa Rica’s major agricultural exports, and gain new perspectives on farming and its role in the community. It was a day where we both learned a lot, and had a ton of fun.

-Emma and Paloma

July 25, 2019

Today, we had an early start to our day at Biothermales, a combination of hot and cool springs. There, we enjoyed racing down the slides, relaxing in the hot springs, and we enjoyed eating all types of local breads and cookies. After we finished up at the springs, we headed back to have lunch and spend our last afternoon with our homestay families. During this time, we took naps, spent time with our homestay families, and helped them prepare for the despedida (the goodbye party).

At the goodbye party, we celebrated our time with our homestay families and made some delicious tortillas. At the end of the party, we thanked our families for taking us in and for making our time with them such a wonderful experience. There were a lot of emotional goodbyes as we said our final thanks to our families. We are very thankful to the community for taking us in and teaching us more about life in Costa Rica. We will miss our host families and the community, but will never forget the time we spent with them.


July 26, 2019

This morning, we woke up early to board the bus. We all ate breakfast in our homestays, and expressed our final farewell to the host families that opened their community, homes and hearts to us all. We spent over four hours traveling on the bus to reach our next destination, stopping twice to pick up snacks, stumbling across a past acquaintance (the yoga instructor from Heliconias), and singing some tunes together along the way. Jorge pointed out the view of the Pacific Ocean through the trees, and we eventually arrived at the Treehouse Cafe. We devoured our meals, and after a filling lunch, we traveled to Ana’s home. She is an herbalist and artist who specializes in alternative therapeutic medicines, and holistic and womens’ health. There, we took a walking tour around a portion of her property, and observed plants that spoke to us in some way or another. We also created bath bombs from natural herbs in combinations of 3 or 5, to retain their balance. After this experience we hopped back on the bus to get to our nearby hotel, Historias Lodge. Rooms were redistributed, and we had fun exploring our new surroundings for the next two nights. We ate dinner, and went to bed after a meeting about our trip to Ana’s house, and about zip lining the next day!

-Emma H.

July 27, 2019

The day began with a later wake-up at 9am. Although our bodies were craving sleep after the homestays, our minds later awake excited for the day to come. Breakfast was fruit and-yes you guess it- rice and beans. After breakfast, our hearts and minds race on the bus ride thinking about the thrill we are about to seek. We arrive and get suited up with helmets and harnesses. Our adventure in the sky takes off transforming ourselves into birds of the cloud forest. We go through eight zip lines, plus a practice one. Two zip lines were so long and high in the sky that we went in pairs, clinging on to one another as hard as the gloves on our hands would let us. The eight zip lines came to end, but our adventure was far from over. A bungee jump to the ground was waiting for us. We stood, for what felt like hours, 3 stories off the ground. One by one we walked to edge where we unhooked from the platform and to the bungee cord. Then we jumped backwards free falling until the cord caught us. After, we took a quick ride to the nearby town to go souvenir shopping. Hopefully none of us left out any of our loved ones. Following souvenir shopping some of us participated in yoga (with a lakefront view). We ate dinner at a sandwich shop and following dinner we wrote letters to ourselves that will be mailed to ourselves in 1 year. It was a great way to conclude the second to last night with each other sharing many memories!!!

-Jordyn and Sophie

July 28, 2019

Today was the last day in Costa Rica and we all bonded. In the morning we went to the cloud forest with our wonderful leader and guide Jorge. We didn’t see much in our three hour hike, but right when we got back to the reception we saw a Coati (which looked like a bear/monkey). Even though the hike was long, the forest was so green that, afterwards, people shared that they felt like they were in a simulation. So, even though the animals decided to hide from us and take their naps we still got to experience the amazing trees. We then ate lunch and went straight to San Jose, back to the very beginning. On the bus ride it was a mix of listening to music and falling asleep on each other. After the long bus ride, we got to our hotel and went out to dinner, where we played a weird game of what are the odds. Finally, we started to say our goodbyes in our very last meeting. No tears yet, but just wait for Huston.