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Conversations from Costa Rica: The confidence to try new things

Global learning is an important part of the Lipscomb University experience. This fall students have a new opportunity to study in one of Latin America's top global learning sites.

Anica Gilbert  | 

Group of students standing at waterfall

In August, 18 students and one professor embarked on a new adventure as the first to study abroad in Lipscomb's new semester-long program in Costa Rica.

This semester Anica Gilbert, a sophomore strategic communication and vocational ministry major at Lipscomb University, is participating in the new global learning program in Costa Rica, one of the top study abroad destinations in Latin America. Gilbert will share the group’s experiences in a series of blog articles this semester.

In August a team of 18 university students led by biology professor Mary Sledge, who is teaching a course on tropical ecology there this semester, made school history as the first group to participate in the Lipscomb Costa Rica program. While in Costa Rica, students will also take Spanish classes in addition to several general education courses and experience the many cultural and life lessons learned by studying abroad. 

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On my last night in the United States before departing to live in Costa Rica for three months, I watched “The Sound of Music.” It’s my favorite movie, so this isn’t all that uncommon for me, but this time it felt different. 

I had planned on studying abroad since I decided I was going to Lipscomb, however, the closer the departure came, the more apprehensive I got. I didn’t like that most of my friends were going to different locations, that we would be the first group to try this new program in Costa Rica, or that I would be away from the campus that I had come to call home. These worries kept me from sleeping, so I decided to think about Maria and the Von Trapp children’s problems instead. 

“Sound of Music” follows the story of an aspiring nun, Maria, as she becomes the governess to seven children, brings music into their home, and eventually falls in love with their widowed father. There are also fantastic music numbers, a car chase scene, and lots of shots of Julie Andrews frolicking in a field. 

The song Maria sings as she is leaving the abbey on her new adventure is called “Confidence.” She sings, “I’ve always longed for adventure, to do the things I’ve never dared, now here I’m facing adventure, then why am I so scared?” 

These words struck a chord with me immediately. Like Fräulein Maria, I was on the brink of something I have always anticipated, and all I wanted to do was stay at home. I searched my mind for the reason that I was feeling this way, and I realized I feared that I wouldn’t find a home in Costa Rica like I found a year ago at Lipscomb. I began to pray about this feeling, asking God to provide comfort and a home during my time abroad. 

Then, I was reminded of a very similar prayer that I prayed when I was moving to Lipscomb last year. I asked God for comfort, community, and confidence during the transition to college. And when I began at Lipscomb I found a new dependence on Him and a group of people who seek Him earnestly. I was floored. I realized that in a way, I have been praying the same prayer my whole life. I have constantly prayed to feel at home in all situations, and constantly God has answered with the gift of His presence. 

Now, as I have been in Costa Rica for almost a week, I am trying to lean into the Lord as I go to new places, befriend new people and immerse myself in a new culture. Just like a year ago, I am learning the language and practice of being dependent on God in an unfamiliar place. I know that I am home whenever God goes with me. Maybe I won’t marry a sea captain or have to escape to Switzerland, but like Maria, but I have confidence in what the Lord will do through study abroad in Costa Rica.

Learn more about Lipscomb University's Global Learning Program.