Hear about the Wheaton in Costa Rica program through the first-hand accounts of those who recently were there.
This trip was an absolutely amazing experience for me in countless ways. I formed relationships with a group of people and professors that had become my family during our trip. When people ask me what was the best part of the trip was for me, it was the friendships I made with this group of people and all of the experiences we shared together. It was the times where we were together in class or simply riding in the bus.
I experienced so many things that I would never have had the opportunity to do otherwise and my eyes were opened to seeing and understanding others realities.
Wheaton in Costa Rica made me appreciate the "pura vida." It can be hard to slow down and appreciate each moment in the general flurry of activities. In Costa Rica, I didn't have the billion different activities and commitments that come with campus life. The first weekend, I found myself in an unfamiliar town with a host family, none of whom spoke English. So, I had to overcome my fear of sounding ridiculous and try to speak Spanish. But by the time I said goodbye I realized that this place had impacted me far more than giving me a bit more Spanish speaking confidence. Besides having the best avocados and mangos in the world, Costa Rica is a place full of people who have told me their stories and shared new perspectives. I've had the opportunity to be with people and to listen to them. And the listening may have outweighed the (sometimes failed attempts at) speaking! Now I understand that immersion isn't just about language It's about stories. This slightly expanded understanding of the perspectives of my brothers and sisters in Christ in a "bubble" different from my own will, I hope, help me to be a better neighbor to all those who I come in contact with, whether they have a background like my own or not.
Wheaton in Costa Rica was an amazing experience full of joys and challenges that have positively impacted me. My favorite souvenir was the spare house key I had used over the summer that my hosts let me keep, an open invitation to return to the country, culture, and friends that I have grown to cherish. I would definitely recommend this trip to other students. Immersion is the key to improving language and cultural competency. The program develops new perspectives for students to contribute in classes back at Wheaton. [One highlight of the trip was] witnessing a "desfile" (parade) pass through the streets of San Rafael celebrating the 130th anniversary of the founding of the town. Little did I know that I would quickly become part of the parade, invited by a relative of my host family to ride in a "carreterra" (beautifully painted cart pulled by cows).
This trip is an immersion experience. Through life with a host family, weekly trips to the city, travel around the country...I was able to experience life in Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. I learned the most Spanish, history, theology, and more from listening to those around me. The conversations and experiences I had with people, both with natives and with other students, are what I will remember the most. They made me think differently about life and the world around me, and most of those thoughts were in Spanish! I am grateful to be able to have been a part of the Wheaton in Costa Rica program.
Wheaton in Costa Rica not only gave me the confidence to speak Spanish to strangers and explore places independently, but it also shaped my understanding of Central America and Latin America as a whole, in regards to cultural and socio-political history. You can read as much as you want about a country, but it is not until you are there — living, interacting, and forming relationships with its people -- that you can even begin to comprehend the character of a foreign place. From going to the market with your host family to taking the bus to the city and asking for directions from locals to soaking in incredible views of volcanoes, and cathedrals to meeting a renown Nicaraguan priest and writer to floating in the Caribbean ocean… these experiences are all instrumental to true learning.