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Conversations from Costa Rica: Global learning broadens perspectives, shapes lives

Learning takes place inside the classroom and thousands of miles away from campus. Among Lipscomb's most unique learning opportunities are its semester-long global learning programs.

Anica Gilbert  | 

Students standing in front of a volcano.

Students studying in the inaugural semester-long program in Costa Rica have enjoyed a number of activities in the beautiful outdoors of that country.

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. This is the second in the series. 

It is crazy to think that the fall 2019 Costa Rica group has lived a whole month in Heredia! 

It seems like just yesterday we were at BNA, anxious and excited about what was in store for us in our new home. When we first arrived, we explored our new city with curiosity and sat through many orientations. We marveled at the beauty of God’s creation as we visited waterfalls, mountains, and beach towns. The whole experience has felt too good to be true!

We have had great adventures, like our beach weekend at Samara. We had the opportunity to kayak into the ocean to a small island, where we then snorkeled on the reef. The rest of the weekend was spent laying on the beach and soaking up the sun. Or like our most recent weekend trip to Monteverde. We hiked the Arenal Volcano and saw the most beautiful view overlooking a lake. A few days later, we went on a ziplining excursion. We found ourselves soaring over the most luscious and beautiful Costa Rican jungle. 

Group of students in rock climbing gear.

Students recently embarked on a zip line excursion, soaring over the lush and beautiful Costa Rican jungle.

There have been many beautiful and exciting experiences over the past month, but some struggles as well. We began settling into a routine in a whole new place with new people. Balancing time in college is difficult for any student, so adding that to the culture shock has been a whole new challenge. As I went to all of my classes, I noticed all of my teachers seemed to be focusing on the concept of identity. We discussed what makes up who we are, how identifying a person by one certain trait can be dangerous and how culture can have an effect on our identity.

The more I dwelled on this idea, the more it truly resonated with me. I am in another country, far away from the things that I used to identify myself. I am far from my family, my school, my friends, my church, my social club and all of my other identities. This left me to wonder, how do I identify myself as my surroundings are changing? 

These experiences are broadening my perspective and forming who I am. I am learning to appreciate excitement, adventure, and God’s creation because of the beautiful places I have gotten to see. — Anica Gilbert

A hike up the Arenal Volcano was a recent group activity.

Then, I realized that this is the beautiful part about studying abroad. These experiences are broadening my perspective and forming who I am. I am learning to appreciate excitement, adventure, and God’s creation because of the beautiful places I have gotten to see. Through small frustrations such as the language barrier, travel plans falling through and missing my friends and family back home, I am learning to be resourceful, flexible and optimistic when the situation is less than ideal. When I feel lonely or confused here, I have had to rely on God for comfort and answers instead of my Mom or best friend. 

So far, study abroad has been the adventure I have loved the most, and the one that has stretched me the most. Adjusting to this culture has not been seamless, but getting to have a deeper dependence on the Lord and making memories with new friends has made the struggle more than worthwhile. I hope to continue to learn more about myself and about the Creator of this world that I am getting to explore!