Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away

Notes from Abroad: Olivia in Costa Rica

Poas Volcano National Park Olivia '24 (front) with friends at the Poás Volcano National Park
March 02, 2023
Olivia Bynum '24

Olivia Bynum '24, an environmental studies major with a digital media design minor, is studying abroad in Costa Rica on the AIFS Costa Rica program.

Studying abroad has been amazing in many aspects and I would like to thank the Ingrid H. and George L. Speros scholarship for making it possible.

One of the most impactful experiences has been my courses. I took Intermediate Spanish 1 in January, and I am currently taking Ecological Photography, Gender and Sustainability and Tropical Birds. Part of the reason that I chose the study abroad program to Costa Rica through AIFS was to improve my Spanish skills and it has been the perfect environment to do so. My Spanish course was a one month intensive for three hours each morning and this helped to build upon what I had already learned in my courses at Lake Forest College. The unique aspect of studying abroad is that I was able to immediately take what you learned in the classroom and apply it at home.

My Tico family has been very kind, especially with helping me improve my Spanish skills. We only speak to each other in Spanish which has helped me to be able to speak more naturally and stop worrying about little mistakes. Although Intermediate Spanish 1 was my most useful course, by far my favorite course that I am taking is Tropical Birds. Lake Forest College offers many amazing courses on campus but because of the climate Tropical Birds is not one of them, so I jumped at the opportunity to take it while abroad. This is my first bird course and I have learned a tremendous amount bird identification that I have been able to apply during our field days. The field days have given me the chance to explore the country and wildlife in a way that I wouldn’t have on my own.

I absolutely love the way that all of the courses are structured. There is a huge emphasis on personal growth and learning at Universidad Veritas, so there are more presentations and papers rather than exams. All my courses include field trips, which complements the classroom learning nicely.

I am very grateful to have the opportunity to study abroad in Costa Rica due to receiving the Ingrid H. and George L. Speros scholarship and I would highly recommend studying abroad to experience a new culture and to extend your learning experience beyond the classroom.

Olivia using a coffee-grinding bike:

Coffee grinding bike

Sloth at Manuel Antonio National Park: