In about a month and a half, the group and I will be landing in Costa Rica for the first time. We spent the spring semester talking with people from Costa Rica, learning basic geology, and preparing for everything we might encounter in our trip to Costa Rica. Despite this, I’m still uneasy about what to expect when we get there.
There are times where I fantasize about being amidst the mountains surrounded by magnificent landscapes, soaking in some of the freshest air in all the world. I see myself taking walks through the street of San Jose, enjoying the novelty of the scenery and the glee of being an outsider trying to integrate into a culture and land completely foreign to me. How will the women and children react when they see me, will they be delighted to see a foreigner from the grand USA? How well can I hide that I don’t belong, and is it something that I want to hide? A part of me romanticizes the trip because I’ve never spent more than a week outside the US. I think deep down we all yearn for a mystic escape into a bountiful, beautiful land where anything can happen and the days are replete with new possibilities.
But the rational side of me, the analytic, calculated part, wants to be more realistic. I’ll probably not be in the tropical rainforest half as much as I idealize and the people will hardly take notice of me. Perhaps, our main objective once there will be to learn the subtle art of international connectivity, research field work, and preliminary data acquisition. It will be an adventure of the mind rather than the soul. We might spend more time learning about programming, computer simulations, data appraisal, instrument calibration and debugging, and overcoming cultural differences in a professional setting than anything else. Just as my curiosity loves to over dramatize the future, my brain tends to over-analyze the situation. In reality, the trip will be a balanced mix of the two, drawing the best of each field of thought.
Regardless, I know that after this trip my worldview will be impacted and rebuilt. I will
undoubtedly come across some beautiful scenes as we carry out our field work, and it goes without question that I will find the interaction with international researchers to be enlightening if not at least interesting. This trip will be a treasure trove of experiences, professional, personal, and interpersonal. Whether a romantic get-away into the jungles of South America or a challenging crash-course on research and field work await me, I will tackle this chapter of my life with excitement and spirit, resurfacing better than ever.