Being able to experience different climates and landscapes than those of Mississippi, where I have lived all of my life, was one of the reasons I chose to go to Costa Rica with Hinds Community College’s study abroad program. Also, I had always wanted to experience spending time in a culture that does not speak English. I have to admit that I really had little interest in the wildlife of Costa Rica; however, after seeing sloths, monkeys, toucans and crocodiles in the wild, I’m ready to go back. The trip to Costa Rica is one of the greatest experiences I have had in my life so far.
While in Costa Rica, I was able to see beautiful mountains, waterfalls and even volcanos up close. Before our study abroad trip, I had never been interested in seeing or hiking through mountains. However, while traveling through the mountains of Costa Rica, I began to realize how much I enjoyed it. Once I returned home to Mississippi, it took some time to grow accustomed to the empty sky with no mountains. I have never thought much about where I might go after I graduate from a senior university. Now, after traveling out of the country, my desire to see more of the world has strengthened.
My two brothers (also Hinds Community College students) and I became close friends with our fellow Hinds students since we were always together. We explored some of the towns of Costa Rica, visited the shops and interacted with many of the locals. At a coffee plantation, we learned the whole process that goes into our morning cup of Joe. We went snorkeling, kayaking, swimming in the ocean and bathed in mud at the base of a volcano. I even saw my brother Harrison graduate from Hinds in the cloud forests of Monteverde. While we were having fun, we were also learning more than I had ever known about wildlife and the environment.
At first, I was hesitant to sign up for the trip to Costa Rica because I wasn’t that interested in environmental science. However, I loved every minute of the trip. My experiences there made everything we had learned in Environmental Science classes (which met every Friday during the second eight-week semester last spring) very concrete and real. I even earned a biology credit that I can count toward graduation at Hinds.
For anyone who thinks Costa Rica is a Third-World country where you have to “rough it,” think again. We hiked well-maintained trails without slashing our way through the jungle with a machete. Our guides all spoke English, and our Hinds instructors, Sharon Feaster and Beth Guider, connected everything we saw to what we had learned in our classes. Our hotels all had modern facilities, and the food was fabulous and very fresh. Mango, papaya, pineapple and bananas are important agricultural export crops grown in Costa Rica, so we feasted every day.
The memories of those two weeks in Costa Rica will stay with me for many years. I hope to be able to return to Costa Rica someday soon. Choosing to participate in Hinds' study abroad to Costa Rica is definitely one of the best choices I have made in college so far. In fact, it influenced me to travel with Hinds’ International Study Program in England during Spring Break this semester. I am thankful Hinds Community College has given me the opportunity to travel out of the country and explore more of the world.
Holt Hunter of Harrisville is a member of the Honors Program at the Raymond Campus and an officer intern for Phi Theta Kappa. He will be traveling to Bridgwater College in England over Spring Break in March as part of Hinds Community College’s international study program.