Michelle Nguyen

Location: Costa Rica 
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Term Abroad: Spring Break '16

Major: Electrical Engineering

Career Plans: Quality testing for a Michigan car company

What's your best memory from your time abroad?
My best memory in Costa Rica was when we went ziplining through the rain forest. It was really awesome to zip through the rain forest and be able to see and hear the monkeys and birds. The ziplines were 1000+ feet so it was very relaxing to be zipping through and enjoying the scenery. 

Academic Planning
This counted as one of my honors classes and it helped me earn my honors credits. It also helped me venture out and explore a different country when I wasn't familiar with the culture or when I have never been abroad on my own!

Initial thoughts on Arrival
It was very humid, but also very breathtaking because the first thing we saw when we landed were the mountains.

We stayed in a base, so we had bunk beds and showers. The staff prepared every meal for our group. They were very nice and lovely people to talk to. 

We essentially babysat about 10 children ages 1-7 for 5 days, 4 hours per day. We played games with them and also taught them English and their numbers in both English and Spanish. Their favorite activities were coloring and blowing soap bubbles for them to chase.

Money Matters
I intern over the summers and make a lot of money, so savings from the summer really helped. In addition I'm on scholarship so my tuition is paid for and I am also a resident assistant so my housing is also covered for the school year. Therefore I don't spend very much money and I was able to afford this trip.

Michelle with other students

Leisure & Travel
The last 2 days of our trip we went to a resort in which we were able to go to the beach, go on a guided tour through the forest and also zipline. Ziplining was amazing because we went through the forests and it was just so magical. We also explored the small shops and everything!

The locals knew not all of us spoke Spanish, but we tried. They spoke slowly so we could understand and they were very nice. It helped that there were a few people on the trip that were very fluent in Spanish. Overall, the locals were helpful. Everyone is so kind. A phrase in Costa Rica that we all learned was Pura Vida, which is pure life. It means to live your life to the fullest. That's what the locals would say because there's no reason to waste away your life being bitter and regretful.

Look for a program that interests you and also fits your budget and time frame. Take advantage of scholarships and it's an amazing opportunity.