UNK students explore beautiful Costa Rica – UNK News

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Lively nightlife. Incredible culture. Tropical beaches. Beautiful landscape.

Sounds like the perfect summer vacation, right?

Ziplining was among the many activities UNK senior Tatum Vondra enjoyed during his recent study abroad trip to Costa Rica. (Courtesy photos)

For Tatum Vondra and 10 other students at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, it definitely was. They visited Costa Rica as part of a study abroad program organized by the Department of Modern Languages ​​at UNK. Seven of the students stayed there for a month and four participated in a two-week program.

The group took classes at the Costa Rican Language Academy during the week and spent their weekends exploring this Central American country known for its beaches, volcanoes and biodiversity.

We asked Vondra, a senior business administration student majoring in marketing and minoring in Spanish and event management, a few questions about this great experience.

Tell us about the trip. What things could you do?
The first weekend we went to Monteverde and La Fortuna. In Monteverde we ziplined and spent time exploring the area. In La Fortuna we stayed at a hostel, ventured to a waterfall with a swing, went swimming at a resort near the volcano and spent some time in this beautiful town.

The second weekend we went to Jaco and Manuel Antonio, two towns on the Pacific coast. We spent most of our time here lounging on the beach and soaking up the sun. San Jose (where we lived) is in the middle of the country and we stayed there during the rainy season, so it was nice to experience the coast as well.

On the third weekend we spent time visiting local craft markets and experiencing the nightlife. My 21st birthday was June 19th so we celebrated it with friends and our host families!

The Costa Rica adventure included a stop at this waterfall with a rope swing.
The Costa Rica adventure included a stop at this waterfall with a rope swing.

Why did you choose this study trip abroad?
I had heard good things about the program and was aware of the welcoming culture of native Costa Ricans towards Americans. I had planned to attend this trip after my freshman year; however, travel has not been possible for the past two years due to COVID. The people of Costa Rica are so nice and the school was a phenomenal place to practice my Spanish skills.

What was your favorite part?
It’s so hard to choose just one. The day Costa Rica qualified for the World Cup was definitely a favorite. The whole town of San Jose was a party, and everyone was so inclusive in letting us in on the festivities. Another interesting part of the program was being able to meet students from other states and countries. Our group bonded with students from North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, and Louisiana, and I became friends with two Belgian students.

As a student, what was the value of this experience?
This experience has been invaluable. I gained independence while cruising in a new city and it was an exceptional way to improve my Spanish skills. My classes were 1:1 with a teacher and we became very close over the course of four weeks. I continued to keep in touch with my host mother and my teacher.

Why should other students study abroad?
I would recommend studying abroad to other students for a long list of reasons. Studying abroad forces you to step out of your comfort zone and learn new things about other cultures, as well as yourself. Exploring a new country gave me a new perspective on life, improved my professional and communication skills, and created memories that will last a lifetime.


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