Honors Summer Adventures: Volunteering in Costa Rica

¡Hola! Alexis here, reporting on my amazing summer! I was one of the lucky Honors students who had the chance to go abroad this summer.  I just got back from a four-week program in Costa Rica! Unlike other students, instead of studying abroad I actually volunteered through a program called International Student Volunteers.  I heard about the organization through a speaker in one of my Biology classes and decided to look into it, and I’m so glad I did! I was placed in a Sea Turtle Conservation project in Ostional, Costa Rica.

Coulter 2The olive ridley sea turtle I studied

For my first two weeks in Costa Rica I patrolled the beach at night looking for sea turtles that came ashore to lay their eggs. We did some data collection (counting eggs, measurements, etc.) for an ongoing research effort about olive ridley sea turtles.  Since I knew that I would be helping with this research I also talked to a professor here on campus before leaving and we decided that I could also get an internship credit for this experience. Score! Working with the sea turtles was incredible! I loved learning about them and having the opportunity for such hands-on research.  Not only did I love studying the turtles, but I also discovered how beautiful Costa Rica is at night.  On our patrols we were always under a sky of shooting stars and next to waves that glowed from algae! As I only worked at night, I had the entire day to explore the beach, caves, and the waterfalls of Ostional.  In addition, when I wasn’t spotting howler monkeys or running away from crabs, I spent a lot time with the locals and fell in love with Costa Rican culture.

Coulter 1Surfing it up at Samara Beach!

Although I was sad to leave Ostional after two weeks, my last two weeks were well spent on a Costa Rican Adventure Tour. It was the most exciting two weeks of my life! I had the chance to go on a three-day whitewater rafting tour on the Pacuare River that included a hike to a gorgeous waterfall and a natural waterslide! I also got to relax in thermal hot springs, open my pores in a mud spa, see an active volcano, kayak the ocean, snorkel in clear blue water, catch some waves surfing, zipline over the jungle, and rappel down a waterfall! My adventures in Costa Rica were incredible and an experience I will always remember. It was the perfect summer abroad, but I can’t wait to come back to Iowa State!

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