Story and photos by Scout Gullick
Before I stepped foot on Northeastern’s campus, I knew I wanted to study abroad in Costa Rica. I had never been before, but I always felt this gravitational pull to the country, unsatiated until I fulfilled my study abroad dream during Spring of 2022. Arriving in Monteverde, I didn’t know much about my impending experience aside from living adjacent to a cloud forest and studying sustainability. After a three-hour, winding bus ride to Monteverde, we settled into our bunk beds in our bungalows and went to sleep.
Everyday was an early start. Breakfast was served by the kindest staff at 7 a.m., where after every scoop of gallo pinto and a “gracias” came an endearing “con mucho gusto” (with pleasure). The days were slow, as we learned to appreciate the minutiae of life. We were pretty much in the middle of nowhere, where town was a 2-hour walk away or a 20 minute bus ride, which we only had access to on Sundays. Nowhere was beautiful, though. Our campus was essentially a jungle, with white-faced capuchin monkeys spying on us from the cecropia trees, snakes entering our classrooms and scorpions stinging hello to some people at night during the rainy season. We would get out of class, catch a tan or go on a hike, have dinner and then do an activity, like night hikes, cooking classes, salsa dancing, etc.
We were limited with our exposure to the rest of the world due to the ongoing COVID-19 cases in the country. Monteverde survives off eco-tourism, so the pandemic hit them hard when their target demographic (tourists) could not travel. Thus, our trips into town were reduced, we had to wear masks indoors and we could not travel outside of the Monteverde region unless on a field trip for class. We made the most of it; we would go into town for 12 hours at a time, passing the hours at the gym, drinking Imperials at the one bar in the area, perusing the local gift stores and talking to strangers — and later, talking to friends. It did not matter that we seldom left campus because everywhere was paradise. We were fascinated by plants bigger than we had ever seen and animals and bugs we had never heard of. We built relationships to one another, una mezcla de turistas y ticos, and I strengthened my Latin roots as we transitioned from outsiders of the community to temporary yet welcome fixtures. All it took was a little time.