BEVERLY, Mass. — Endicott women's lacrosse junior Maya Feigenbaum (West Hartford, Conn.) recently went on a study abroad trip to Costa Rica. Feigenbaum, who is majoring in Communication, caught ECGulls up on her trip to Costa Rica.
1) ECGULLS: Can you give us an overall description of your trip?
This experience was really unique for me in many ways. The first week we were in classrooms learning Spanish with only three other students. Considering I haven't taken Spanish since middle school, it was pretty comical trying to learn the basics. I have never been taught on a giant mountain before with views that you could only imagine. Conversa (which is the school's name) had a beautiful view of Santa Ana and a pool for you to swim in between breaks. Each weekend we would travel to different places as a group, the first weekend we traveled to La Fortuna where our hotel looked straight out to a Volcano. I was able to conquer my fear of heights by going zip-lining and let's just say I felt like I could do anything after that. The following week we started our community service project where we had a summer camp for the kids who lived in Santa Ana. We were able to raise plenty of money to buy textbooks, notebooks, and prizes for the kids at the end of the camp. This was one of the best feelings from this trip, you see the way they live and how happy they are to hang out with you really makes you feel like you did something good in your life. The second weekend we went away to Manuel Antonio, this was one of my favorite places because of how beautiful the beaches are. The sunsets were so clear and bright. It was a chance for us to relax and hang out at the beach. In the final week, we got to travel around as a group and explore how coffee was made and check out the city of San Jose.
2) ECGULLS: Describe your overall study abroad experience?
Overall, three weeks is the perfect amount of time if you don't want to go for four months. You are able to learn and explore enough in that amount of time. Studying abroad also allows you to go on new adventures and learn a new culture which is the best part.
3) ECGULLS: Why would you recommend studying abroad to other students?
This was the first time I've traveled without my family and being hosted at someone else's home and although it was pretty scary, it allowed me to come out of my comfort zone. I was able to meet new people here at Endicott that I would most likely never be friends with if it wasn't for this trip. By breaking through my fears and going on new adventures, I was able to see the culture in Costa Rica and make new friendships throughout the process.
4) ECGULLS: What was the biggest lesson you learned?
The biggest lesson I learned was to never take what we have for granted. Just by living in another person's home and seeing little things like how you can't throw toilet paper in the toilet because their sewage system is different or how the water in the shower gets cold a lot quicker than you're used to. Although it seems like such stupid things, it was a huge change for me. You realize their lifestyle and norms are so different and it puts life in perspective. Like when I complain about having too much work, I now understand how grateful I am to have an education because not everyone in the world is able to have this kind of opportunity.
5) ECGULLS: What was your favorite experience?
If I had to pick just one experience from this trip it would be zip lining. For me, this was a huge obstacle and I was extremely nervous the whole time driving up the mountain. But as it was finally my turn there was no more fear; not to be cliché but looking at the scenery of the green trees my world kind of stopped for a bit and I kind of just took in the adventure. The best part of zip lining was right before one of the last courses, there was this thing called Tarzan which basically meant you had the option of being pushed off this ledge and you are free-falling while still harnessed. At first, I was like yeah, no that's not happening. Then eventually peer pressure struck and all I remember is just being pushed off this ledge and swinging in the mountains. It was one of the coolest experiences yet.
6) ECGULLS: Describe the educational side of the program.
Being in a Spanish speaking country, your Spanish automatically improves so much. Considering I really didn't know much Spanish, near the end of the trip I was able to communicate with my host mom and other people much better than the beginning. The first week was where we really focused on our Spanish and were in a classroom setting. The professors make it really fun and sometimes you forget that you are even in a classroom. The best part is that you are earning credits with warm weather and a great view.
7) ECGULLS: Were there any funny stories from your trip?
I don't have any specific memories but I think watching some of us at the beginning attempting attempt to speak Spanish was very comical. I would say a lot of us used incorrect terms that made us look very stupid. Like saying good morning when you actually meant goodnight. The kids at the camp would always point and laugh at us.
ENDICOTT EDUCATION ABROAD
"At Endicott College, we believe our students are best prepared for our interconnected and globalized world if they are culturally aware, multicultural in their perspectives, and able to understand global issues from various points of view. Education abroad (study abroad & international internships) prepares students for success by offering alternative academic understanding, social & cultural literacy and life-changing experiences. Through semester-long academic study, faculty-led trips, or 3-to-15 week internships abroad help students gain new confidence and self-awareness, and obtain the skills necessary for success in today's economy." — said Warren Jaferian (Dean, International Education)
(Photo Credit - Maya Feigenbaum '21)