Through the Colleges’ abroad program in San Joaquín de Flores, Costa Rica, Hobart and William Smith students are studying the country’s eco-tourism industry while participating in a fully-immersive Spanish language academic program this semester.
Most recently, students traveled to Rincon de la Vieja to explore the Northwestern coast of the country and study the city that is encompassed by the Guanacaste Mountain Range and known for its active volcanoes and national parks. Students experienced some of the city’s top eco-tourism industries such as zip lining in the tropical forest, hiking up mountains, and swimming in a spa fed naturally by the thermal springs and mud of the volcano.
“Exploring Costa Rica has been a learning experience because of what the country prides itself in so much, their eco-tourism adaptations,” says Rebecca Czajkowski ’18, an English major with minors in education and Hispanic studies. “All of our tours and trips have demonstrated an interesting kind of preservation of both history and nature that is unrivaled. My own host family has spoken to me multiple times of their pride in Costa Rica’s steps toward exploring nature while protecting it.”
The group also studied numerous parks, such as Voclan Irazu, national theaters in San Jose, as well as coffee processing plants. Carl Weiss ’17, an international relations and Hispanic studies double major, says the experiences are valuable because “we get the opportunity to get a sample of what the region has to offer both culturally and visually.”
The Costa Rica program runs through a partnership between the Colleges and Academic Programs International. Courses are taught entirely in Spanish, providing what the students call a difficult yet valuable learning experience. “Without the challenges, I wouldn’t be learning and growing as much as I am, which I’m extremely grateful for,” says Weiss.
Additionally, homestays with local families further enhances the immersive Spanish-speaking environment. Both Czajkowski and Weiss say the homestay experience has been a cultural awakening and provided a richer study abroad experience.
With more than half the semester still ahead, Czajkowski says she’s looking forward to the many trips and excursions still on their agenda, providing them with the opportunity “to learn about Costa Rica’s relationships with their natural abundance, their indigenous population and more.”
In the photo above, Rebecca Czajkowski ’18 (left) and Carl Weiss ’17 (second from right) pose for a photo in Volcán Irazú National Park with other students in the Colleges and Academic Programs International program in San Joaquín de Flores.