Summer 2018

Getting called down to my counselors office was a little nerve racking, since it didn’t happen quite as often. When I approached the counselors office I noticed that she had gone into a meeting room with other counselors and students, so I also went in. I later learned that my fellow classmates and I had been called down for the same reason; we were all eligible to apply for such a wonderful program known as Trip Of A Lifetime. The name quickly got my attention and I was curious to learn more about it, and so I did. I applied and got accepted, and was ever so grateful. I then knew that this would be a summer to remember.

July 8 finally crept up and my heart was racing. I was very nervous yet excited about going on this trip. As I got closer and closer to the airport, my heart began to pound faster and faster. There were so many thoughts going through me head: Will they be nice? Are they going to want to be my friend? Who will be my roomate? I finally made it to the airport and my mind went blank once I saw all those, then strangers, standing online with their suitcases. In that moment I felt very anxious since I saw that most of the people on my trip were going with friends.

After what had seemed forever, I finally made it to Costa Rica and I had befriended a few people. We hopped on a bus and made it to a restaurant for lunch. I thought that the plane ride seemed forever, but the bus ride to get to La Fortuna topped that. The wait was worth it! Los Lagos Hotel in La Fortuna was one of my favorite places. It was so beautiful and I had never seen anything like it. The people and the hot springs is what made this one of my many favorite places.

Tamarindo and its beaches was also one of my favorite places that we visited. I had never seen a sky and  water so blue and such a relaxing climate. There I also learned to surf, which was something I could finally cross off my bucket list. I may have not been the best, but I did catch some waves and had a lively experience. Although these places were beautiful and were new views to me, I have to say that the Costa Rica Dog Rescue was also my favorite place as well. Being there allowed me to share my love and compassion towards dogs that needed to feel loved and accepted. Working with them was an unforgettable experience and has allowed me to possibly pursue a future career with animals.

Going into Costa Rica I didn’t expect the people there to care so much about their environment. This was a surprise to me because here in the U.S. many don’t take as much action as the Costa Ricans did. Many places used biodegradable straws, and had different bins for trash. There was organic, for food waste, plastic and glass for recycling. There were also many places that ran on renewable energy, such as solar, which I found very interesting, since you don’t see many use it. Additionally I found it astounding that many Costa Ricans care greatly about their wildlife, and do whatever they can to protect them.

In every trip there will be some challenges. A challenge I faced was trying to deal with much unnecessary drama that had been started. At one point during that challenge there was a part of me that juts wanted to leave and go home in order to not have to deal with it. But I did not let that challenge ruin my trip. I managed to ignore it, let it settle down and made the best of my trip.

Being able to be part of this program and attend this trip has allowed me to learn and grow more as a person. I learned that there are many people and animals out there who need love and need someone to change their lives for the better. I will always cherish this experience, not just only being able to change the dogs’ lives at the shelter, but also the volunteers’ lives. Many of the volunteers at the shelter were Costa Rican and were very grateful for the help I gave them. I will never forget what I learned from this experience.

Although I am no longer in Costa Rica to be able to volunteer at the dog shelter, I know that I can do so right from home. The skills that I managed to learn over there will be useful in my community, as I’d like to continue to help the rescue. These skills will help me make a difference in my community because I am more aware of how to work with dogs who are in shelters and how to work with the volunteers and or workers. I would like to put these skills to use by encouraging people in my community and at school to help fundraise for the shelter and gather donations.

Overall, this trip has changed my life for the better. I created memories and friendships that will forever be memorable. I am ever so grateful that I was given this opportunity. I didn’t know that there was more out there than just NY. This trip has opened up new doors for me and made me look at the world differently.