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This Spring Break, I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to the beautiful country of Costa Rica in order to learn more about their national conservation efforts, delve deeply into the biodiverse environment, and fully immerse myself into the rich culture. While I was hiking up mountains and swimming under waterfalls, I found time to reflect on the magnificent experience I had as my wanderlust soared in the eagerness of the unfamiliar. It was during this time that I focused on my self-awareness and honed in on the growth and expansion. Below are lessons, some sentimental others comedic, that were fostered during my ten day exploration in paradise.

1. Costa Ricans rarely move as quickly as Americans. Living life more leisurely fosters a lifestyle of ease and decreased stress. It’s nice- you should try it.

2. Always say yes to empanadas.

3. Zip lining is a euphoric experience- don’t allow your fears to inhibit you from soaring new heights.

4. Even when you don’t appear to be sunburnt, your skin is slowly cooking. Sunscreen truly is your best friend.

5. Rice and beans are delicious!

6. Hiking in the rainforest is such a unique adventure. Bring along a scope or binoculars to ensure that you get the best view of the beautiful wildlife.

7. Never leave your camera behind! Be sure to back up your photos so that you will never lose the proof of the memories you’ve made.

8. Do not invest in an international cell phone plan. Challenge yourself to disconnect from technology and separate yourself from social media in order to fully immerse yourself in the journey.

9. Be a traveler, not a tourist. Make a concerted effort to educate yourself about the language, culture, and customs of the country!

10. Take note of your adventures. If you allow yourself time before journaling, you will most likely forget important components of the day, especially sensory details, which truly contribute to the significance of the experience.

11. Be prepared for shifting climates. Pack a few extra pairs of long pants, a warm jacket, and a raincoat to ensure you’re ready for anything Mother Nature sends your way.

12. Interact with the locals. Even if you are not fluent in the language, making the effort to say hello and offering a friendly smile means so much!

13. If you have the opportunity to try some locally made ice cream, do not ever resist the sugary urges.

14. Sangria: 10/10 would recommend.

15. Try new things, consider new experiences. Push the boundaries of your comfort zone. Live freely, and explore without hesitation.

I hope that these tips are beneficial to you in your upcoming adventures- whether it be to Costa Rica, Europe, Africa, or beyond! Pack up, explore, and let life take you on the journey of a lifetime.

“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination with reality, and instead of thinking of how things may be, see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson

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