My Summer with Beyond Study Abroad

 
 

An Adventure in Costa Rica for Student-Athletes

Last summer, I spent 6-weeks in Costa Rica with Beyond Study Abroad. I want to spread the word about this opportunity so please share with people who might be interested!

Beyond Study Abroad 2011

- Spanish Classes

I took a Spanish class at Veritas University. My professor was wonderful and very passionate about helping her students learn Spanish. Coming from a small liberal arts college, I loved Veritas because of the small class sizes and intimate feeling of the university. (My class had only 9 people). The small classes really helped us get over our fear of speaking Spanish in front of each other.

- Adventure Excursions

The first two weekends in Costa Rica we went on Beyond sponsored excursions first to Manuel Antonio beach then to La Fortuna and the Arenal volcano. Each excursion showed another side of the beautiful Costa Rican landscape. Something I'll never forget was ziplining over the rain forest in La Fortuna on 13 different lines, one more than a mile long!

Later, our group decided to go on two additional excursions. Not only did we get the opportunity to explore Costa Rica even more but we had to plan and execute the trips almost completely on our own. We learned a lot about planning for trips and grew more independent through the process.

- Service Learning

The service learning was by far my favorite part of the entire Beyond experience. The overall experience was truly one of the most remarkable things I've ever been a part of. Brooke and I talk almost daily about the children we were able to work and play sports with and how much we miss their smiling faces. The gym these children had access to at their school was equivalent to a leaky, medium-sized parking garage. There were many times we would show up and the marching band would be practicing or other classes were taking place and there was a space about as large as our dorm rooms leftover for the children to play. This never detered them or changed their beautiful smiles. The adapability and incredible spirit these kids have is something I will never forget.

- Athletic Training

The athletic training we underwent was extremely intense. It was a combination of speed and agility, cardio, and strength training. After just 3 weeks everyone could feel a difference in their stamina and conditioning. Josh was able to tailor the training to each athelte, forcusing on specific aspects that would best benefit them in their sport. I came back to the States in the best shape I'd been in for years and feeling completely prepared for my upcoming fall season.

- Reflection

It would be an understatement to say that this experience changed my life. There is an element to living, studying, and volunteering with the people of Costa Rica that one cannot appreciate until they return back to the US. I have always been very interested in volunteer work; I hope to one day become a doctor and work Doctors without Borders. Because I have been so blessed to have access to every sport, extracurricular, and level of education that I could ever want, I have always felt an intense need to give back and help those who are not as fortunate as I have been. The one thing that I have learned through my work with these amazing kids and the incredible people that run Beyond is that we don't need to save the world in order to change lives. These kids have forever left a permanent impact on me.

Seeing athletics from the children's point of view really showed me how much teamwork and attitude are central and crucial components to athletics. When a team has these things, it doesn't matter what game their playing, what type of conditions they have, or how talented each person on the team is; joy and enthusiasm can't be contained when one keeps this in mind. This experience showed me that athletics are not about winning and losing. Athletics are about igniting a passion inside someone. Once one can feel and understand a passion of this gravity they can transfer it to anything in their lives: whether it be their family, their faith, their career, or simply the way in which they live their life.