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

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January 3, 2012

Still pinching myself.  But I’m starting to feel like I’m actually part of this town and this county now, and it’s fantastic.

On Friday, we went to Tortuga Isla.  We took a ferry, then our taxi driver amigo Henry took us through a nature preserve and we saw monkeys!  Then, I went snorkeling and had some time on a gorgeous beach surrounded by mountains, and got home in time to go out for a little while.  On Saturday, we woke up early to take the same ferry, then our man Henry drove us to the amazing town of Montezuma!  It’s probably my favorite town so far.  We hiked up along a river to this amazing waterfall.  We could jump from the rocks which was actually pretty terrifying, swim around in the pool, or just relax with all the gorgeous people and sights everywhere.  We went out to lunch and had delicious food that we could see a family making from our table, then we spent some time walking around on the beach.  After a salsa dance-off on the ferry and some dancing to Party Rock Anthem on tables, we journeyed back to Puntarenas for Fin de Año!

For New Year’s, I spent time with my family who had a party at our house.  Here, it’s much more of a family holiday than one spent with friends, but apparently just until midnight, says my host mom.  After a while, all the other students met up on the beach.  There were fireworks EVERYWHERE. I really think there are no laws here.  So, it seems that my first few minutes of 2012 were spent knee-deep in the bioluminescent Pacific Ocean staring out at the billions of stars, palm trees, endless fireworks, and a beautiful town with the streets full of beautiful people.  Romantic, eh? We went out to a bar for a little while and then ended the night, as always, on the beach.  I came home at 3 am in hopes that my family would be asleep, but as I slept peacefully they apparently karaoke-d until 5 in the morning.  The next day, Sunday, we took a bus to Jaco, another beach not that far from Puntarenas and spent the day there.  Everything is perfect.

Today, we had our midterm (after 1 week of class), and I felt really good about it. I actually really like having a language class for so many hours a day, I just wish I could speak as well with my host family as I do in class.

The beach was perfect today.  I stayed on for a little while after everyone else left, enjoying my iPod’s glory just a little too much.  A song came on that I remember listening to a lot when I moved out of college after spring semester, which brought my thoughts together about a lot of different things.  I honestly thought the world would end when that semester ended.  But it turns out that staying true to myself, including being permanently happy, made things end up even better than I thought they could.

I’ve been saying for a while that I want to really live in Central or South America when I’m older, but obviously that means leaving behind everything I know and already love so much in Maryland and Pennsylvania.  The adventurous part of me that I usually side with says drop everything and go for it, but the side of me that’s in love with my life already says to not give up a good thing.  But didn’t I get this crazy amazing life by taking risks already. No sé.  All I know is that listening to my “move-out” song from last year reminded me that taking it day by day will make everything happen just the way it’s supposed to.

I am too in love with this place.