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Costa Rice Pre-Med & Public Health (Session 1A)

June 23, 2019
I repeat in my head the steps, stated on the Global Works website, which I was to strictly follow, “walk directly to the international gates, do not stop for food, and keep a look out for other green Global Works shirts”. This was not as difficult of a task as I had anticipated because one minute into my walk I was stopped by two kids wearing the same shirt as me. They nicely introduced themselves and told me that they’d see me at the gate. This immediately eased some of the many nerves I was feeling about meeting new people. Lola called and told me to go to gate E14 where I’d find a flock of students in Global Works shirts. Sure enough as I turned the corner there were about 15 more people in the same shirt as me. I bring myself over and say hello to the many unfamiliar faces. It took a good 10 minutes for everyone to really start talking as we were all nervous and a bit awkward. Delaney let us know that we needed to be in groups of 3 if we wanted to walk around or get food. Well, I was very hungry so I asked if anyone wanted to come and two others joined me. We easily began talking about our home lives and the colleges we were looking at. Once back with the group we continued conversations and met new people as they arrived. As time passed I noticed our phones had even been put away. The last hour went by much faster and we were finally on the plane to Costa Rica. I unfortunately didn’t sit with any Global Works kids so my flight was pretty boring and long. Before we landed I was handed the customs sheet which I filled out with much hesitation that everything I did was wrong. That problem was quickly resolved when we landed and a nice girl on my trip helped me fix my mistakes. I stepped outside with my luggage and struggled as I took a breath in the extreme humidity. We all agreed we would not make it through this trip if it was like this all the time. It was a short bus ride to La Dehesa hotel where we split into rooms of 4 girls each and began to settle in. Everyone met up in the central area where we met a group of kids from California that had traveled on a mission trip with their church. They were all so impressed when we told them the medical things we’d be doing. As everyone was getting tired, the trip leaders quickly spoke to us, let us call our parents, and said goodnight.
~By Andi M.

June 24, 2019
We woke up this morning to a beautiful breakfast prepared by the staff of La Dehesa. Beans, rice, fruit, and eggs. After a group activity to learn each other’s names, we were off to a farm to learn about alternative medicine. On the way there we saw beautiful landscapes and colorful houses. When we arrived we were greeted by a knowledgeable farmer who let us sample many different kinds of plants that do different health related things. We tried a flower which was supposed to clear up phlegm in your throat, we tried drinks made of lemon grass that were made to help any stomach problems, and many other herbal treatments. On the trail we stopped by a tree house in the middle of the gardens and had a beautiful view of the city, Heredia. We then proceeded to a dining hall where we would eat a completely organic meal from the farm. On my plate was dried plantains, stew, rice, and plantains that were caramelized. Once our bellies were full we headed back to La Dehesa to do a two hour group session going over group rules and expectations as well as learn a little bit more about the plan for the trip. We are about to walk to a typical Costa Rican restaurant, enjoy dinner, and finish off the night with group activities.
~By Victoria C.

June 25, 2019

Early day at the clinics! After an hour drive we were divided into groups to start our day. Everyone greeted us so hospitably, what an experience! We got to rotate around the pharmacy, check-in and consults. I think everyone who did check ins can now confidently say “Como te llamas?” We also learned to check the blood pressure and properly weigh patients. Moving on to consults. A lot was seen and experienced such as: proper breastfeeding positions, UTI examinations, and so much more. Next we have the pharmacy. We learned which medications were prescribed for what and how often these medications had to be taken to be effective. We had a nice pause in the middle of the day to enjoy a delicious meal made by local families. Then it was time for dance class! Starting with an energetic warm up, we proceeded to learn some moves from salsa, bachata, merengue and swing. We then paired up to learn how to dance with a partner. To conclude the class we did some zumba. I must say that was the best part: everyone was happy from the fun experiences we had had. However the walk to dinner was a long one considering no one had energy left…

~ By Camie H.

June 26, 2019

The night of the 25th, students got their luggage ready for the next morning so we could head to Heliconias after our clinical rotations. After a good night’s rest, (with a 6.5 earthquake waking some) we all got up pretty early and had the usual breakfast. Amazing tasting eggs, pinto, toast and fresh fruits. When breakfast was over, we all loaded our luggage onto the bus and headed to the clinics. The clinics we went to see many Nicaraguan refugees and give them free healthcare and medicine. The 3 different rotations we did were pharmacy, exam room, and waiting room. The pharmacy was very different as many of the prescriptions were over the counter medications and were packaged in tiny plastic bags with little stickers that had directions. In the exam room there were many people who had been dehydrated so we gave them “Drip Drop” which was a powder that contained the electrolytes they needed. While working the waiting room, we learned to take and read blood pressure as well as pulse. We also got an idea of how to weigh in kilograms. After a long day in the clinics we started to drive to Heliconias. We haven’t made it yet as we’re sitting in a restaurant called Mi Rancho eating some dinner. All in all, today was a really good day.

~ By Nevaeh L.

June 27, 2019
Today we did clinical rotations at various EBAIS clinics, which are the public, government run clinics in Costa Rica. We were separated into two groups of three and two groups of four, and we all went to a different clinic to do clinical rotations for the morning. I was at a clinic with Lisa, Tori, and Ashley. We spent most of our time in the examination room. The main doctor Alejandro took us under his wing in the examination room and gave us all stethoscopes. Lisa, Tori, and I listened to our own heartbeats and each other’s as well. Doctor Alejandro let us listen to the heartbeats and lungs and stomachs of a bunch of different patients. Some were babies, some were toddlers, and some were pregnant women. I also spent some time with Ashley with the nurses. The nurses let me weigh the patients and take their blood pressure measurements. I also practiced my Spanish a little when I was calling the patients into the consult room. Ashley drove Lisa, Tori, and I to a restaurant called Happy Land and I had a really delicious chicken salad for lunch. We then went to a nearby school to listen to a doctor give a talk about the public health situation in Costa Rica. She spoke about the common cancers in males and females and the clinical system here in Costa Rica and answered any questions we had. When we arrived back at Heliconias, it started raining pretty hard. Before dinner, a bunch of us went to swim in the pool. At 6pm, we had our first dinner at Heliconias. They served rice and fries, and a really tasty and fresh passionfruit juice, which I had never had before. After dinner, we went back to our rooms and relaxed there for free time before a quick logistics meeting at 8. After the meeting, we went back to the rooms and made friendship bracelets using the different colored strings that Camie brought from home. I started making two bracelets, one with blue, light blue, and white, and another with pink, light pink, purple, and white. After that, we washed up for bed and turned our lights off at 10:30.

~ By Sydney W.

June 28, 2019
Today the whole group took an hour long van ride to the community of San Francisco. We met with a man named Miguel who worked at the EBAIS clinic and was leading us in cleaning and painting their local recreation, workout area. He began by splitting us into groups, some to clean the outside walls, some to clean the workout equipment, and others to work on the outside sidewalk. I worked on the sidewalk which was a surprisingly tedious job of scrubbing mountains of dirt off of the 10 meter path and getting COVERED in mud. We began by scooping the mud out of the dugout sidewalk and followed by rinsing and more scrubbing. It felt as though the job would never get done, but we were very determined to finish and do a good job for Miguel and his community. After a few hours we took a lunch break and walked two minutes to a small restaurant, which around Costa Rica are called Sodas. The meal was really good and well deserved. We all ordered different things, I got grilled chicken that came with a salad and french fries. Following lunch we walked back to the rec center for two more hours of work. When we finally finished cleaning the sidewalks it felt amazing. The difference from when we started and ended was insane, everyone who worked on it felt extremely accomplished. We then decided we deserved a treat for our hard work, so we walked across the street to the little bakery and convenience store to buy snacks. I got an Oreja which means ear in Spanish and is a round, flat pastry with sugar covering the outside. SO good. Soon after we got in the vans to go back to Heliconias where we walked with our guide, Osvaldo, to look for animals. He spotted a couple beautiful, rainbow beak toucans and a sloth! The sloth was so cute, it kept scratching herself and we could even see her face smiling through the binoculars. We had a couple hours of downtime after the walk. I spent my time doing ACT prep homework, you’re welcome mom, while most others swam or played soccer. Dinner was spaghetti Bolognese or veggie pasta and fresh juice of course. Then we went on an hour night walk with Osvaldo to search for animals in the dark. We found a lot of cool animals like a red eyed tree frog, a glass frog, a moth, and another sloth. Some of us, including me, ate termites. Yes, we ate them. Apparently it’s a known thing that you can just stick your finger in a termite nest and get a snack. They weren’t that bad, kind of tasted like peanut butter in a very subtle way. After our exciting night activity and getting soaked in the pouring rain, we all met up for a quick meeting then to our rooms to hang out before bed.

~ By Andi M.

June 29, 2019

Today, we woke up full of excitement, it was waterfall day! There was an optional yoga class in the morning at 7, and the rest of us headed to breakfast around 8, dressed with swimsuits under our clothes. We had a 30 minute drive to La Fortuna (Fortune in English, what a cool town name). There, we walked down over 500 stair steps, shoutout to Nicholas for counting. After looking at the magnificent, 200-foot waterfall, we went down a few more stairs to the swimming hole. Unfortunately, the weather was cloudy and there were a few showers, so it wasn’t the ideal swim. Still, we got in and swam around in the frigid water. There were beautiful green vines, trees and plants all around the hole, looking like it was straight out of a movie. After hiking back up the 500 steps, we headed to lunch with burning thighs. We got to wander around La Fortuna to look for a place to eat, and the group split between pizza and sushi. We spent the rest of the day shopping, buying presents for all of you back home. A lot of us got hennas, some of which did not turn out quite as expected. Andi got a shaka that looks like the thumb is detached. We drove back to Heliconias and ate dinner together. After, Ashley, one of our leaders, taught us how to make all natural bug spray using essential oils, vinegar and witch hazel. It worked very well! We closed the night making friendship bracelets, which has become a great time passer. We returned to our rooms, and I personally spent the night in a hammock outside, because each of our balconies look out into the jungle, and it’s a pretty cool view. At lights out, we went to bed and got ready for the next day of adventure.

~Iris T.

June 30, 2019

La Clinica Merz, an alternative therapy clinic, was our next stop on our journey to discovering the different aspects of medicine and health. We were really looking forward to the treatments (such as floral therapy, neurofeedback, etc.) we had heard of from our guides. Arriving at the clinic, we had a lecture style talk where Ms. Maria-Elena, the woman who opened the clinic, explained the ¨origin¨ of alternative therapy. She did the lecture in Spanish and I did my very best to translate for the group as she spoke and translate for her when someone asked a question. She discussed the trilogy of a human, the body, the soul and the spirit which is like a guide. She went into depth about each piece, discussing different philosophers and scientists who had the same or similar idea of how a human is composed. We also learned this technique called Ho´oponopono, which is basically you saying 4 things to your soul: ¨Lo siento, Perdón, Gracias y Te Amo¨. These were said to help stabilize your soul so you can reconnect with it and get the trilogy in harmony. Then we did an interesting activity where she had us write our names on an index card along with the fear(s) we relate most with from the 4 she gave us and whether we identify with a zebra (express our anger & emotions) or a cow (keep it in, hold grudges, etc.). From the answers we wrote down, she made floral therapy treatments for each person. After the lecture, we split into two groups and received demonstrations in the massage room and the ionic detox room. Within each group, a student would volunteer to have the treatment given to them while the rest watch and observe. In the massage room, however, two students received two different massages. One massage was with a machine and the other was done by the massage therapist herself using some oils. After the lecture and demonstrations, we had lunch around noon at a family run restaurant a few feet down from the clinic. When we returned after lunch, the group switched stations so each group could see a demonstration of both the ionic detox and the massages. After that, we were able to choose one treatment from the two that we wanted to receive. The majority of us were disappointed with the result of the treatments because they didn’t quite meet the expectations set and we were only given two to choose from. We then returned to Heliconias Lodge, rested for a few minutes then had our dinner. Following dinner was preparation for homestays: a workshop, where we did skits of situations that could occur during our homestays and learned about a couple Costa Rican culture norms that we should be aware of. Once we were done with that, we went on to our nightly logistics meeting where we were briefed of the agenda of the following day. And so….. We await for what the day will unfold.

~Aicha T.

July 1, 2019

Today we left Helaconias and headed to La Tigra, where we spent the morning in their senior citizen center. We were told the history of the center as well as their hopes for future projects. At the center, we participated in activities with the senior citizens, such as relay races and a dance party. Around 11:30, we left to get lunch and with the hope to make our way to the next activity. Instead, we enjoyed each others’ company in the bus for awhile. As you may know, Costa Rica is experiencing protests against tax raises and the minister of education who recently resigned, so we knew that any drive we took could be longer than expected. Despite not being able to go to the hot springs, we had a lot of fun! On the way, we got out to explore the surrounding town. Farz and I went to buy stuff from a pharmacy and we got to pet a dog. We made our way back to the bus and after a while got past the first blockade when it was opened up. Approximately a mile later we encountered the second blockade where we stayed for a while before the police let us know that all cars that weren’t commercial were being allowed through. The welcome potluck had to be rescheduled to tomorrow since the families did not know when we were going to arrive. When we got to Veracruz, we were paired up with our homestay partners and families. I got paired with Iris in Karina’s house. She is married and has a four year old daughter called Tamara. We got time to make conversation with our homestay families and went to bed around 9.

-Gaby H.

July 2, 2019

Today was a very busy day for all of us. After settling down yesterday at our homestays, we finally broke the ice and were able to start a new journey. Before leaving the house, my host mom, Annia, cooked us a delicious meal. Although it was fried and I never liked fried food, it was absolutely delicious. Walking to the playground with my host brother at about 8:30, we arrived at the meeting spot to begin our community mapping project. With our attentive guide, Osvaldo, we walked along the roads in the community, investigating what the community looked like in general. Along the way, we saw a big farm, Tierra Fertil, a creek, a school, and a lot more. We then had a group discussion of what the resources were, and what the community looked like. Although it was a very interesting activity, I guess what everyone is looking forward to is the party, Bienvenida, where our host families all come together to celebrate our arrival. And so everyone got all dressed up, and we were ready! The party started with the community leader, Rosario, welcoming us with a speech. A group of very cute girls then performed, two of which are my host sisters. Their traditional dances and their voices really had my heart. Then it was karaoke time! No one volunteered until my new host mom, Victoria, finally dragged me out of my seat and insisted I should sing a song. I was very nervous, but I went up. With my whole body shaking from the beginning of the song to the end, I didn’t think I could do it. But I did, and there was a big round of applause. After that, a lot more people went up to sing. When people finally got bored of karaoke, we all started dancing. I felt so excited that I was able to connect with the kids and everyone there. Everyone was so welcoming and enthusiastic and I felt they all wanted to get to know our culture. I remember how the kids all came to talk to me and eat with me even though I spoke really bad Spanish. They were willing to gesture and do things that would make me understand their meanings. It was truly an incredible experience for me!

-Lisa Z.

July 3, 2019

Today was by far our most back-breaking and productive day yet. The community asked us to remove dirt that had been picked up and dumped into their community area from the wind. For several hours, we scraped and shoveled tough dirt through pouring rain. We even saw monkeys swinging from branch to branch within eyeshot of the village. Near the end, we even got more helping hands after some local teenage boys woke up and came out to help. Even past the language barrier we were able to work together. By the end, each and every one of us was soaking wet and caked in dirt. After a well deserved shower, we all were surprised to learn that we all were going to visit the hot springs after all! After a short and exciting thirty minute ride, we arrived at the hot springs and were welcomed by the beautiful sights of pools and pools of heated springs. There were even two slides that were deceptively slow. Additionally, the springs were more artificial than we expected. The hot spring water was fed to the pool by pipes, and the pools themselves were made up of man-made rocks. The hottest pool went up to 42℃ (107.6℉), and the coldest was lukewarm at best. We stayed there for a few hours, our bodies tired from shoveling dirt. When we arrived home, we were happy to see our beds, tired from a long day and excited for the next.

– Brandon T.

July 4, 2019

Today was a very busy and adventure filled day. Right as I woke up, my mom, Joana, prepared a very lovely and delicious meal for me: beans, rice, and plantains. Right after eating, me and my roomie, Farzaneh, headed to the meeting spot where we met the rest of our group and continued our journey. We began with visiting a pineapple plantation which was located in Tierra Fertil. The manager of the company guided us around through the 600 hectares of pineapple plants. We started by riding a big truck that lead us through all the stages of pineapple growth. This was very interesting and educational. Towards the end of our journey at the pineapple farm, the guide cut up fresh pineapple for all of us which was very delicious. After this trip, everyone headed back to their families and we all ate lunch. For lunch I ate this delicious meat with 3 different salads and delicious rice. This was very yummy. After, we all met up with the group and we planned our going away party for tomorrow. During this, we all worked cooperatively to create different games and activities for all the kids and adults for tomorrow. Also, the guides surprised us a with a 4th of July cake to celebrate our holiday from back home. After we finished planning, me and some of my fellow colleagues went to the mejenga, the word for a local pick up game of soccer, and were joined by many children in playing a huge game, this was so fun! Then I headed back home.l took a quick shower and my family and I walked to Fresia’s house for tortilla night. Here we all learned to make delicious tortillas that we all ate. For every tortilla that we wanted to eat, we had to make it ourselves and then put the meat in afterwards. Overall, today was very fun and very busy but very very very fun.
– Gabi F.

July 5, 2019

Today was a fun but busy day. We had the morning free until 10 am where there was optional community service which was painting the steps of the communal field. I passed and decided to sleep a little longer. Around 10-10:30am I had planned to cook breakfast for my host family, something Dominican so they could try a different type of food. I cooked mangu, which is green mashed plantain, fried eggs and cheese, and salami (which we couldn’t find so we used bacon). It was pretty good but I made too much, the food was ready around 11:30 (smh), I was starving. After this Andi, Gabi F and Lisa went and sat down on the porch with our host mom. She was going to paint our nails while we asked her some questions that we wrote down to ask the community. We had a pool at our house, so while Andi and Lisa got their nails done I went and chilled in the pool with my host siblings. At 1pm, a group of three went to the small city nearby, Pital, to get some of the supplies for the going away party; we got a pinata, lots of candy, face paint, eggs, and ballons. When we set everything up and people stared to come in, the first thing we did was painting the faces of little ones. We painted bees, butterflies, and sunflowers. After, we drew on paper, played various games, musical chairs and a balloon popping game. We couldn’t do the eggs toss that we’d planned because it would have made a big mess and it would have been really hard to clean up. After the going away party, we all went to our homes to eat some dinner and after dinner we all met at my house for to hang out. We danced and shared the night with our host families for the last time. The day went by slow, or on “tico time”, and we all had so much fun. I will really miss this town.

-Katherine M.

July 6, 2019

Today is the day we have to say goodbye to our host families (but not forever). We had to wake up pretty early in hopes of leaving early, but you know what time it always is, tico time. We left a little later than expected and spent 6 hours in the bus together with a couple of stops of course. The bus ride to Monteverde was beautiful, all those views from the mountain tops, the huge volcano we saw with steam at the top, the calm lake that was surrounded by the mountains and many other unimaginable things. We ate lunch at a “souvenir buffet” which seemingly as the name says, was a buffet and had a souvenir shop inside of it. An hour after eating at the restaurant we arrived at our hotel, Historias Lodge. Once here I had to assign room numbers to the groups. We had some down time and then had a meeting to talk a little more about our life away from technology and our phone, after that we headed to a place called Santa Maria’s Nightwalk, which as the name says they gave us a nightwalk. The group got divided into 2, and we were able to see many crazy animals that not many people get to see, such as different kinds of snakes, scorpions, beautiful and colorful birds, different and very huge moths, walking sticks, and armadillos. After all the walking and animal watching, our amazing guides decided to take us to a very fancy restaurant called “Morphos Restaurant.” The food took a while, but it was worth it, everyone enjoyed their food. We left the place at around 9:30 which was a first for the group. After that we got back to our hotels, everyone said their goodnights in the bus and off to their room they went.

-Farzaneh M.

July 7, 2019

Today was a very eventful day. We went ziplining and, although some of us were scared, most of us were quite excited. The first zipline was a little short, but we also did some that were between 2000 and 3000 feet long. The tallest one was 328 feet tall. The view from that high up really was beautiful but it did scare some of us. Tori was a little hesitant when it came to actually having to leave the platform we were all standing on. At the end of all of the zip lines, we got to choose between either rappelling or “bungee jumping” to get down. Although the bungee jumping was more of just a short fall and then rappelling, it was still both fun and terrifying. Personally, I love bungee jumping and as you can imagine, it’s quite hard jumping off when you can see the 24 meter drop off. I couldn’t even jump off and had to ask the man working there to push me off. It was very fun but also scary. So scary that my legs were flailing around as if I were about to die. The pictures ended up costing $70 for all of them so, we all pitched in and bought the pictures. Delaney paid, and we all gave her $5. After lunch, we had a yoga class which we thought was going to be an hour and a half but it ended being 50 minutes. I felt very relaxed when the class finished. There were also a couple of funny moments during the yoga class. At one point someone fell asleep and was snoring quite loudly and later, we were in a ball laying on our back rolling side to side and, someone fell onto their side with a loud thud. Overall, it was a very fun day and I think most people enjoyed it. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m definitely going to miss everyone on this trip.

-Nicolas H.

July 8, 2019
We woke up to a beautiful breakfast of pancakes and eggs, with all of our stuff packed and in the bus we headed off to yet another alternative health clinic. We arrived and were greeted by two very friendly dogs. Then we went inside to learn about the wonders of natural healing. The first activity we did was make our bundles of herbs specifically designed for our needs when it came to speaking up about difficult decisions. She then proceeded to show us her garden where she grows all of her herbs that she uses for medicine. The garden was in the shape of a heart and protected by the “Grandmother Plant”. We then had a four hour drive of singing at the top of our lungs back to the first hotel we stayed at, La Dehesa, for our final night. We arrived at the hotel and quickly headed off to a fancy restaurant looking over the city. We took so many pictures and are so sad to leave but excited to see loved ones at home.

– Victoria C.