There are many fears that can arise when someone asks you, “Is this your first study abroad?” You feel a tingle in your toes and then it slowly winds up your legs, up your spine, spiraling until it lands on your neck. You realize that you actually will experience what your family will never know or undertake, the chance to cross our country’s borders to explore the lands unknown to you. Your family reminds you that this is a trip of a lifetime. What they just do not understand is this has been boiling in my blood for a long time. Ever since I was a girl, about kitchen table high, I have dreamed of seeing new lands, new people, new culture, and behold diversity for so long.
I can remember missionaries coming to our church with their decadent tables of lively colors and unique artifacts from the countries they visited all around the world. Some would have the foods, homemade clothes, and pictures of children my age at the time but very different from me standing beside cows and huts they called wigwams. No more did the pages of books and pictures of other countries wet my appetite. I wanted more, so much more. I wanted to stand on the soil of another country, touch the hands of others so very different from me, my tongue taste the words of another’s language, and grow like I have never grown before because of new knowledge I learned from observing and getting to know others whose lives are unlike my own.
This country girl from the backcountry of the upstate of South Carolina wanted so much more than her tiny life offered her. So today at 25, a senior in the Early Childhood Education program at the University of Georgia, I start to pack for a trip that literally I have been planning since 8 years old.
Costa Rica is waiting for me and let the packing commence.
Where do I start?
What to bring?
What do the locals wear and why do they where it?
What gifts should I bring for our hospitality?
Which boots are water proof for the wet tropics of the Costa Rica Monteverde cloud forest?
How do I practice the language?
These are but the few questions that flood my thoughts everyday since my first study abroad orientation. I can hardly contain my thrill. I still have fears of obtaining enough funding to attend. But I am hopeful. I truly believe that determination and grit can make anything happen. I can’t stop now. I am so close, I can feel the moist air when I close my eyes, I can hear the chatter of the Capuchin monkey in the distance watching if I leave anything so he can steal it, and see the children that I will be working with in the summer camps in their one-room school houses. I have to find a way. Because I know how much I can learn to become a better future teacher. I must find a way.