Have you met Olivia? She won a LIVFund Scholarship to fund her study abroad trip to Costa Rica with USAC over her winter break from school at the University of Maryland. Below is her latest update from Puntarenas, Costa Rica, but in case you missed her previous entries, you can read them by clicking on the links below.

1. Study abroad in Costa Rica, a Christmas wish come true

2. An update from Olivia on study abroad with USAC in Costa Rica

3. Fireworks and leaps of faith in Costa Rica

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January 9, 2012

This past week has been nuts!

Last week, every night after dinner, we would all just go down to the beach and make a fire to hang out for a few hours.  I wish I lived closer to a beach at home because no matter what the weather or what I’m doing, the beach (any beach) will always be my favorite place.  Another one of the students is a yoga instructor and has been leading yoga every morning before classes.  Even though it’s ungodly early, it feels so fantastic.  She plays great music, and I get to watch the sunrise with the sea breeze on me the whole time.  I wish I got to do yoga this way more often.  Such a paradise here.

Friday morning, we left for Arenal on a bus.  The drive was about 3 hours and the whole time I couldn’t stop staring out the window.  This whole country is gorgeous.  I feel like we passed through five different countries – we went from green farmland to something that looked like African plains to big cities to little beach towns.  We went shopping for a little while, and then checked in at our hotel about halfway up the Arenal volcano.  Then, we embarked on a treacherous three minute drive to the Baldi Hot Springs Resort, which was really amazing.  It was probably the peak of the vacation part of the trip… the natural hot springs came from the volcano, and we got to spend time in the pools for a few hours.  There were waterfalls and waterslides and everything! They gave us an awesome dinner there, then we went back to the hotel and had the pool and the hot tub to ourselves for the night.

Saturday after breakfast we went to the volcano and did a hanging bridges tour.  We hiked around the rainforest for a few hours… I loved it. Everything was just amazing.  Everything here is perfect.  After lunch, we just headed back to Puntarenas for the night!

On Sunday morning, we met at school again and drove to Guanacaste for a crocodile tour.  You know how lots of times on these things you mostly see pretty trees, sometimes water, and maybe some birds?  Uh uh.  This time, our boat driver got out and fed the crocodiles right next to us.  And the birds actually were really cool… the tour guide keep yelling ¨YES! LOOK! THIS IS A NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MOMENT!¨, particularly when we saw this tiny pretty little white bird shake a crab to death then swallow it whole.

After lunch, we went on a canopy tour and went ziplining, something I’ve always wanted to do!  It was such a thrill, but also just relaxing and fun to be able to look out at the landscape whilst, you know, flying through the air. This weekend was definitely the one to check things off of my list of ¨things you have to do in Costa Rica.¨  I got to go to so many places and do so many things that I wanted to… and I’m feeling grateful.  For everything.

And now, it is Monday!  The past several school days, this has started to feel like my real life, and now, it’s almost over. On Thursday, we have final exams, one last night, and then, I fly home on Friday.  I plan on milking every single day for what it’s worth and sucking up every ray of sunshine I can, and I won’t let myself be sad until I actually go home.  I think I’m glad I only did a short term program instead of a whole semester, though.  It’s been perfect, and now I just know I’ll have to come back here one day :).