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Intro to Pre-Med & Public Health, Session 2 ~ 2022

July 16, 2022

Today we woke up with the sun at 5:45, it was a lot earlier than we thought it would be and many of us still weren’t adjusted to the time change. At 8:00 we went to the common room and ate a wonderful breakfast of Gallo pinto (rice and beans), toast, eggs, coffee, and plantains. After breakfast we did some introductory activities and set some expectations for our trip. We packed our backpacks and got on the bus before driving 30 mins to a garden where we walked around and played some team building activities. At noon, we ate lunch at a Costa Rican restaurant across the street from the garden and enjoyed some traditional meals and strawberry milkshakes. After lunch we drove up to the top of the Poás volcano where we were able to see the crystal blue water in its crater. We then drove back to the hotel and played cards, rested, and swam. We had pasta for dinner and afterwards, we found a stay cat who we named Mr. Twizzlers. Overall, today was a great start to our trip and we are so excited to visit a coffee farm tomorrow!
By Madeline C.

July 17, 2022

We woke up at 7:30 for an 8:00 breakfast of cornbread, toast, rice and beans, scrambled eggs, orange juice, coffee, and water. We left at around 9:00 for the coffee farm. It was around a one and a half hour drive to the farm. At the farm we got a tour of what was grown. It was a little bit of a hike but it was worth it. We saw a bunch of plants and how they were used to help sicknesses like the flu, and indigestion. After that tour we got lunch of blackened chicken, rice, pinto beans, and coleslaw. We also saw how coffee is brewed. We got to see how different types are brewed and we got to take either the beans or grounded beans back. After that we got back onto the bus and went to Walmart. People got what they needed and wanted (including a chocolate cake for my adjusted birthday). We got back onto the bus yet again, and got dinner at a Costa Rican restaurant. We then walked back and had a meeting. It was overall a very fun day and the food was amazing.
By Rebecca

July 18, 2022

Everyone is sweating profusely. We’ve just finished learning the steps to dance to salsa, bachata, and creole swing, all popular dances in Costa Rica. It was definitely more of a workout than most of us had bargained for, but everyone, regardless of coordination and ability, was smiling. Everyone had much more energy today, despite the fact that it was very long. It was our first day at the clinic, and we were getting an introduction into what our jobs were going to be in the coming days. In the morning, there was disappointment in the girls room that we wouldn’t get to wear our hospital scrubs until tomorrow, funnily enough. At the clinic, we learned about hypertension and how to measure blood pressure (we were all healthy). Then we signed up for our jobs, which included pharmacy work (putting together prescriptions and explaining them to patients), waiting room duty (taking the patients’ vitals and providing education on public health), and shadowing a doctor in the exam room. Additionally, at the clinic there is a program called Casa Club which works with developmentally disabled people, and I joined the group that got to plan some educational activities for them about the topic of recycling. We combined a mix of posters, games, and skits to convey the message. Naturally, this was also an awesome time to practice our Spanish, as that is the language the patients speak.

Lots of other things were also practiced today, and during our free time Lyndsey made her first friendship bracelet. This is a big deal, because everybody’s water bottles have mountains of string hanging from them. The goal is that everyone can make one for someone by the end of this trip. Some of us are scared of the trip ending, though. Maddie and I fell in love with a cat that we met at the hotel. His name is Mr. Twizzlers (or Twizzie), and we got to see a lot of his firsts during his time with us. Maddie made him a cat toy out of the friendship bracelet string, which Twizzie was definitely a fan of, along with the cat treats and cuddles. We watched as he tentatively drank water out of a colorful bowl; it was clear he was thirsty, but we admired how delicately he was able to drink. But I digress. After dinner and time with the cat, we heard the schedule, as per usual. A collective groan could be heard through the building as we learned that we had both an earlier bedtime and breakfast than previous days. Ultimately though, mood was light and excited for tomorrow when we finally went to bed.
-Malena T.

July 19, 2022 

The day started with a nutritious breakfast of rice, beans, pineapple, eggs, pancakes, juice and coffee. After a nice morning of chatting and being well rested, we boarded the bus to drive over to the clinic for a full day! We each had roles assigned such as working the waiting room or the pharmacy, or observing in the exam room as the doctor assessed patients! We learned and experienced so much, and we also got to spray paint recyclable plastic bottles to use as plant holders! We ordered Subway to eat at the clinic and boarded the bus again to listen to quite a supreme playlist everyone collaborated on. During our free time in the afternoon, some people packed for our trip to the next hotel, and some hung out by the pool to swim, read, and work on our many friendship bracelets! To finish up the evening, we all played a fun round of Mafia, and ate delicious Peruvian food on the outdoor deck, as well as microwaved s’mores and perfect leftover cake from yesterday to complete another amazing day 🙂
– Risa

July 20, 2022
Today we got an early start and headed back out to the Clinic after a delicious breakfast of Gallo Pinto and chocolate cake. Once we got to the Clinic, we began our rounds. Some of us took measurements and vitals, while others observed the physician and filled prescriptions. While the other group went to the soup kitchen and helped to update children’s medical documentation. When all the work was done, we thanked the incredible Clinic staff for their time, experience, and hospitality. Then, we began our drive to Heliconias in San Carlos. After a lunch buffet featuring our go-to of chicken and rice and pit-stop at a local souvenir shop with a beautiful garden, cows, horses, and goats, we continued up the winding mountain roads for another few hours. Luckily, the drive was clearly worth the trip. We arrived to our beautiful hotel, enjoyed a relaxing swim in the heated pool, and tasty dinner of more chicken and rice. After dinner, we had an active lesson on the Costa Rican Healthcare System and a game to practice what we learned. We got patient cases and had to decide what level of care within the public system they needed: clinic, hospital or specialized hospital and we had to carry our “patients”  to each one. Then, we said goodnight and prepared for another early wake up and action packed day!

July 21, 2022

Today we woke up at 6:30 in the morning ready to eat yet another delicious breakfast of eggs and beans. However today was not like any other. It started first when we all filed into two vans and began the 15 minute drive to the cheese farm. There we learned so much about how the farm came to be, from only selling to one Colombian man and a couple neighbors to having more than 40 clients. We then got the chance to roll fresh mozzarella and even got to taste it. The owner then took us to explore the rest of the farm as they not only made cheese but grew many delicious fruits (I guess the the star fruits looked especially enticing as many people took them right off the plant.) We ended our visit eating lunch made of fish, steamed vegetables and rice.

Our next activity was starting CPR training which everyone did amazing with especially naming the fake bodies we had to practice on. Then bellies full of cookies and Gatorade had some free time to relax before dinner. After dinner everyone gathered around the pool area some swimming and some just relaxing. And reflecting on the homework due for the wilderness first aid training tomorrow. And then we all stayed up talking on our porches excited about our sleep in day to 8am.
~ Grianne M.

July 22, 2022
So today was something. A pretty good breakfast of pancakes. Some of us rested in the comfortable rooms at our lodge, while others continued with our first aid certification training. We had a full day of training and that led to everyone passing our first test of the course and getting CPR certified. While also coming up with some very unique slings out of salt and pepper shakers. Learning how to use a tourniquet without it ending in the patient losing their arm is always good. We were split into two teams and spent some time using our Macgyver skills to race to build a backboard. Also learning how to clean the “wounds” our teacher gave us. But moving on, we ended the night with some room changes and a dinner that was not rice and beans, but pasta! Overall, it was a very busy but good day, just missing some friends.
~ Lyndsey

July 23, 2022

This morning we woke up at 8am to have an 8:30 pancake breakfast! We then wrapped up our Wilderness First Aid course by performing scenarios, such as, “what do you do if your patient got hit by lightning?” We then took the final tests! Thankfully, the whole group passed, and we finished with a WFA graduation!

Later on in the day, we drove into town and had lunch, and then had an hour of free time to roam and shop for souvenirs. Once we got home, we headed up to a chicken tender dinner. Overall today was a great day, we got a lot done and had tons of fun!
~ Eliza

July 24, 2022
Today we started with breakfast at 7 am. Then we left for the ziplines. There, we took five ziplines down the mountain as it was raining which only added to the experience. I loved the excitement when ziplining today!
After ziplining, we drove to an organic farm where we had lunch and took a tour of the area. We learned about the natural compost and many different types of medicinal leaves. Then we explored the muddy paths leading deeper into the farm. Unfortunately, we stumbled upon a poisonous snake that interrupted our endeavor.
We made our way back to the bus and had some free time in the cabins before and after dinner. Before bed, we had to pack in preparation for relocation tomorrow.

July 25, 2022

This morning I woke up very eager and excited to travel to a new location in Costa Rica. At first I was sad about leaving the beautiful Heliconas Nature Lodge, but realized there were many new adventures ahead. We started driving to Monteverde, about a 4 hour drive, but stopped for lunch on the way. I enjoyed the classic Costa Rican dish, arroz con pollo, with an amazing view of Lake Arenal. To top it off, I had an icy cold strawberry smoothie, just the thing I needed for a hot and humid day of traveling.

After finally arriving at Monteverde, we visited a Frog Pond. There were many interesting-looking insects on display, as well as frogs. As we took a tour of the frogs there, it was very difficult to spot them in their habitats. Thankfully the guide was there to point them out to us. It surprised me how small some of them were, making it extremely easy for them to stay hidden. To end the day, after dinner we went on a night hike through the rainforest. I was intrigued when our tour guide showed us a venomous scorpion that glowed in UV light. I saw many unique plants and animals including snakes, toucans, and tarantulas. Overall, today I learned so much about the native plants and animals here in Monteverde.

~Maddie W.

July 26, 2022

Students went to ArteSana’s, an organic farm where they learned about medicinal plants and the cycle of the moon. They then went to a yoga class and as their blog post, Charlie (aka Lachlan) gathered the following quotes to describe the group’s day:

“I missed half of the day, how am I supposed to write the blog post?” – Charlie (Lachlan)
“The dogs get jealous of each other so you have to pet both at once.” – Becca
“We hugged trees and were bitten by bugs.” – Lyndsey
“You only live once.” – PJ
“I’m not sure anymore where my feet end and the dirt begins… But it’s not supposed to matter.” – Malena
“Yoga in trees, if you please.” – Derek
“Make wonderful days in all kinds of ways.” – Marcela
“Being a crow is easy.” – Sy
“Ohhhhh it’s the soap not the soup… got it” – Maddie
“I’ll get back to you.” – Marielis
“Yoga definitely has its place in my life” – Jamie

July 27, 2022

It all started with some banana pancakes that had no bananas. After breakfast we got ready to head over to a community center and piled in the van. We learned about exchanging and buying services/goods by playing a fun game. We all had different jobs that varied from doctors, witches, electricians and different fruit farmers. After the game we had some lemongrass infusion tea and then went back into the center to continue our work. We talked about flowers, and different ways to use them in medicine. Then we split into groups and went outside to get flower essence. We had to ask the flowers for consent to spray it and take its essence. After that we made tinctures, some of us used alcohol and others used sunflower oil. We were able to use fresh and dry herbs to make our own mixture. We labeled our potions and moved onto making essential oil infused sprays. We had the option of relaxing or concentration essential oils that we were able to mix together and make it our own. Then we had lunch at the public market across the street. After that we were on our way back to the hotel where we had a short break before learning about K-tape. Marcela showed us three different K-tape techniques that we were able to try on each other. When K-taping ended we had some down time before a chef came to our hotel and made us sushi. Whoever didn’t have the opportunity to go on the night hike yesterday went with Sir Derek. And the rest of us chilled by the fire. After dinner the chef whipped out his guitar and started playing while some of us sang along. The rest of us hung out with each other, talking, some of us (me) dyed our hair, and we just enjoyed our time together because we realized it would soon be coming to an end. So we have to enjoy the moments we have left 🙂
By Bea

July 28, 2022

Today started with a lovely 4:30 am wake up. When we got on our favorite bus with our favorite driver, everyone was silent but we were still ready for music to play. Halfway during our road trip we stopped at a souvenir & breakfast place where we had gallo pinto and eggs – and no, we are not yet sick of the gallo pinto. Back on the road we continued singing to throwbacks and falling in and out of sleep. We started seeing lots of palm trees, a crocodile bridge and what we have been waiting for – the ocean! Once we arrived, we grabbed our bags off the bus and all the girls piled into one room to quickly change for the beach. Finally in our swimsuits and of course, covered in sunscreen, we walked two minutes to the beach. We dropped our bags in the sand and ran into the ocean. There were many waves to jump through and the water felt perfectly warm. After the beach, we walked to a Mexican restaurant nearby where we enjoyed tacos and fresh fruit smoothies. We then headed back to the hotel with our tummies full and excited to take a dip in the pool. The rest of the afternoon was relaxing and full of options. Many headed back to the beach, even in the rain, and some had movie time back in the rooms. We finished the night with chicken, beans, rice and a green salad, all made at the hotel. Lastly, we played our favorite group activity; mafia. Now we are all cozy in our new rooms, eating our oreos and cheeto puffs with netflix playing in the background and aloe vera continuously being reapplied.

By Josie

July 29, 2022

Today we had a later start and ended up having breakfast at 9am. We walked to the beach at around 10am and would start our surf lessons there around 10:15. We got into the water around 10:30 and split up into three groups to even out the waves for everyone. Everyone looked super good in the surf and everyone was standing up and riding their waves all the way into the beach. Even though it was some people’s first time surfing they got the hang of it very fast. We had a quick break at 11:30 and had water before heading out again until 1pm when we got out.

Lunch was at the hotel and everyone felt very tired after a long day of surfing. We hung out at the hotel until 5pm when we all went to a nice final dinner overlooking the ocean. We ended the night playing games and remembering the memories we all formed on the trip.

July 30, 2022

Today was a perfect conclusion to Costa Rica 2k22. We woke up way earlier than was necessary, had one last serving of rice and beans, and headed back down to the surf. This time, instead of catching waves on boards, we caught waves onboard a local whale watching vessel under the careful watch of a nice man named Michael. Without his knowledge, we would’ve hardly known we were spectating a mother Humpback the size of a schoolbus. Wow! After chasing after an unfriendly pod of dolphins, we retired to a sheltered area of the coast where we swam in the perfectly warm water. Our hours in the sun left us perfectly worn out for the 4 hour bus ride back to San Jose.

A brief stop at yet another souvenir shop netted us just a few more novelty tees and bracelets bound to break within the month, the post-shopping fever carrying us all the way back to the big city, where we now await the airport.
By Jamie and PJ