Volunteer Review: Sanne A., Tropical Dry Forest Conservation & Community in Costa Rica
I was anxious before my trip to Costa Rica because I had never travelled to a Latin American country on my own before. I was so nervous, because no one I knew was coming with me and this was going to be far away from my family back in the UK. I chose the High School Special program, which was great for me, because I was surrounded by people of the same age who were very kind and keen.
I was on the High School Special Care & Conservation project, however thankfully Projects Abroad were able to change my routine slightly and allow me to learn Spanish the second week instead of Conservation. Despite me really wanting to do the Conservation project, I had to learn Spanish the second week due to my schooling and final exams.
The Care Placement
The Care project was situated in a very poor area, very different to England of course and made me realize how lucky I was. The Care project was very overwhelming because it made me sad to see that some of the children were not as fortunate as I was, however it was also seriously rewarding because I had the opportunity to help these children. Most days consisted of providing lunch for the children, painting their faces, drawing, making bracelets or playing in the playground. At times, though, I got very tired due to the weather and the amount of activities we did with the children.
My first weekend excursion to the hot springs was so beautiful. I overlooked the volcanoes and it was one of the most stunning sights I have ever seen. There was also a restaurant by the hot springs and the food given was delicious. I met some other people who were also traveling around Costa Rica and we had some really good conversations, in which I got to learn about their experience in Costa Rica and other places they had gone to in South America, such as Nicaragua.
The sunset in the evening as well was also so nice, everything felt extremely peaceful and it is something I keep close to my memory and fondly tell my peers about. The next day we went zip lining, horse riding, we had a buffet lunch, we went rafting on the river and even went to another hot springs in which we could paint ourselves with mud and again, feel completely relaxed. We all really bonded here as well as everyone was extremely happy and still to this day we talk about how fun this was.
My second week in Costa Rica
During my second week the group of High School Special volunteers left to the Conservation project, however I remained in Liberia to have Spanish lessons and stayed at a different host family. I joined in with the other volunteers, who were staying much longer and they were all such lovely people! My host family was also so kind; they took me out to one of the typical festivals in Costa Rica, where I was able to eat the traditional food of Costa Rica.
A volunteer who stayed in the same house as me took me out in the evenings where she introduced me to the other volunteers. We basically went out every evening and usually went to the local ice cream shop or several other hang out places where we all socialized. Costa Rica is obviously very different to Europe, therefore walking home after 9pm was a bit unsafe. We all took a taxi home every night, which ensured our safety and there were plenty of taxis around.
The culture in Costa Rica was very different to what I was used to, but I really felt like I was learning about a different part of the world. Writing about my experience makes me miss it a lot and I wish I spent more than two weeks in Costa Rica. If I ever decide to volunteer overseas again, I will most definitely go with Projects Abroad because they are so organized and always there when you need help. Not only did they keep in touch with me to see if everything was okay, but they constantly emailed my parents updating them on how everything was going.
Now that I am back in England I realize how important it is for everyone to travel, not only does it open up doors to learn about new cultures, but it opens up your mind and makes you realize how fortunate you are. Our world is very beautiful, and I can confidently say that Costa Rica has been one of the most beautiful countries I have been to. Similarly, if you are looking to be in safe hands and to go with an organized organization, then choose Projects Abroad.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.