The Influence of Study Abroad: CPI Spanish Immersion, Costa Rica
It’s been a long journey since my first day as a student at CPI Spanish Immersion in Costa Rica, having traveled with The University of North Alabama. This initial opportunity in Costa Rica, thanks to my professor and mentor, Dr. Claudia Polo Vance, was fundamental in helping to open my eyes to a whole new world. Here I should take a quick pause and thank not only Claudia but all those professors and teachers who dedicate their time and spring/summer breaks to establishing study abroad programs, with the goal of introducing young minds to a wider, global perspective. It is such honored work, and they deserve so much appreciation.
Thanks to that first 3 week experience 6 years ago, when I fell in love with the country, the culture, and people, I ended up returning to Costa Rica upon graduation with my bachelor’s in foreign language for an internship position at CPI over my gap semester (which then converted into 4 more summers!), prior to starting my Master’s, and subsequent doctorate in Spanish at the University of Alabama.
It is important to take space to ponder, I wanted to share with ya’ll that I am writing this guest blog post from the top of the tallest building in the European Union. I remember back to 6 years ago; honestly, people who know me today wouldn’t be able to recognize me. I was timid and barely capable of leaving the house without company. My fear of getting out and experiencing the world consumed me…. As that study abroad student trying to improve my Spanish, I learned that I could walk out the door not knowing anyone in the morning but later in the day return to my homestay having made a few new friends, those with an entirely different life experience from my own. Whether it be walking down the street, getting groceries, or hanging out in the local town square, I became more and more motivated to perfect the language and to simply meet people and even get to know them – engage with them about politics, their likes, their dislikes, or just whatever. It was all about building relationships, and I honestly believe that my experience studying at CPI Spanish Immersion nurtured that sentiment. I liked it so much, I decided to take a leap. So, when I knew I had a semester off before starting my graduate studies, I accepted a position interning at CPI for eight months. I never would have thought that would then convert into four more seasons. During that time, I was blessed to work with many university students and professors. It is not until now, as I’m sitting here having a glass of wine, looking down on Berlin from the Fernsehturm Tor and reflecting on who I’ve become over the past few years, that I realize that my experience studying in Costa Rica with CPI changed my entire perspective on what it is to experience life to its fullest. So if you are entertaining even the smallest glimpse of interest in studying Spanish in Costa Rica, do it! You will never regret it, and I can guarantee that you will only be grateful to yourself for having taken that leap of faith!