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Tara Reflects on her Costa Rica Pre-Med & Public Health Trip

When I boarded the plane to the Miami International Airport, I had never been away from home for longer than a week. I was nervous about leaving my family, about having to explore a new part of the world without them. What I learned from my experiences in Costa Rica is that it’s possible to become a part of other families: the community of Veracruz, where we completed most of our service work; our homestay families, who opened up their home to us (and fed us really yummy food); and most importantly, our group of students, who grew remarkably close in such a short time.

The trip began in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. We arrived at the hotel after a quick bus ride from the airport and settled in to our rooms. The next morning marked the beginning of our work in clinics. My highlight of our stay in San Jose was interacting with all of the children at the mobile clinic/soup kitchen. All of the kids were super curious about where we came from, and they couldn’t wait to play with us. Our next destination was La Tigra, where we continued our work in clinics. We were put into four groups and each one traveled to a different clinic to help and observe. At the clinic my group was assigned to, the pharmacists were very open to letting us help, everything from entering data into the computer, filling prescriptions, and calling patients names in the window. After working in clinics for a couple days, we traveled to an alternative health clinic where we learned about floral therapy, massage therapy, biofeedback, and toxin removal.

Our next bus ride marked the beginning of my favorite part of the trip: the homestays. We would spend the next five days with our assigned families completing service work for the community of Veracruz. We painted the outside of a rodeo and basketball court, and also contributed to a larger fence building project. Our homestay mom gave us lots and lots (and lots) of delicious coffee and food. On our second to last night with the community, we held a goodbye ceremony at the service work site. We played games, such as soccer and basketball with all of the children, and then the dancing commenced! Our group had put together a goodbye program, which consisted of dancing and singing with all of our families. That night was one of the most meaningful parts of the trip as I realized how hard it would be to part with these people who had impacted my life so much in just 5 days. The morning after our celebration, it was time to say goodbye. Many tears were shed as we began our 4 hour bus ride to the town of Monteverde.

On our first morning in Monteverde, our ziplining adventure began. I was extremely stressed, given my fear of heights, but the feeling of ziplining and the views were unlike anything I had experienced before. The next day, made our way back to San Jose for our last night. We all came together and shared our favorite and funniest moments from the trip. I believe none of us will forget the experiences and memories we made as a part of our new family.

By Tara Amidon, Costa Rica: Intro to Pre-Med & Public Health (Session 1)