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Pura Vida

Christos Yiatrou, C'22

mount st. mary's university campus

Welcome back Mounties! For this week's blog, I wanted to dive into one of the best experiences the Mount has to offer: studying abroad. The Mount provides several opportunities throughout the year for students to spend a semester in Europe or, in my case, Central America. For students who like to travel and want to experience other cultures, this will be a perfect opportunity for you.  

I remember as if it was yesterday: Dr. Rodriguez-Lozano asked me to stay after class one day. I was a little terrified and thought I was in trouble, only to find out that she wanted my parents’ contact information so that she could convince them to send me to Costa Rica. Those who know Doctora know that she is resilient, so it didn’t take much time to convince my parents to send me but also my sister, too.  

One of the things that comes with studying abroad is learning the language, and the best way to learn is from the natives themselves. During my month stay in San Jose, Costa Rica, part of the program was living with a host family. As nervous as I was at first, my “Mamatica” always made me feel as if I was one of her own children which helped tremendously in the beginning weeks. Knowing that many study abroad opportunities have the option to live by yourself, I highly recommend you do not. I understand that some people prefer the freedom of living on their own as a way to immerse themselves in the culture, which is great depending on the country. However, if you are going to a place where you aren't fluent in the language, I would recommend a homestay.  

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to go study in Costa Rica was of course to learn Spanish but also to learn more about the culture. For me, the best way to learn about a place's culture is to eat their food and visit their historical sites. Whether I was eating a homecooked meal or at the corner shop where all the locals go, I took every opportunity I got. There were certain times where I had to step back and just enjoy the moments that I will likely never experience again.  

As overwhelming as it was for me to adapt to my new surroundings, this was an experience I was able to share with the other students on the trip. There were many times where I was completely lost or waiting at the bus stop with no change when one of my classmates would essentially save me from a breakdown. There are instances like these where someone who was once a stranger now becomes a friend just because of the experiences you have together in a short period of time. I was able to create memories and friendships with people that I would have never even met if it wasn’t for studying abroad.  

It truly doesn’t matter if you study in Italy, Ireland, Costa Rica, or even Russia. The memories and experiences you have are once in a lifetime. If it wasn’t for the pandemic, I would have gone to Prague and maybe this blog would be about that. All I know is that my experiences of studying abroad have shaped the idea of one day working or living abroad. I always imagined myself venturing into other countries for work and if it wasn’t for my ups and downs in Costa Rica, I probably wouldn’t even consider it. 

Thanks for tuning in! If you are interested in studying abroad be sure to talk with your advisor during Advising Week. The Mount has some amazing trips happening in 2022 starting off the Spring semester in Florence, Italy. Spring Break '22 features trips to London and Spain. Finally, Summer '22 offers a trip to Salzburg, Austria. Register before its too late!


Christos Yiatrou, C'22