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Spread your wings and live the life you desire with Costa Rica Fall 2022 student Addy Hollis.

***This is an example of a student’s experience from Fall 2022. Specific programming and activities are subject to change by semester.

Deciding to start my first semester of college abroad with Verto Education in Costa Rica was one of the best decisions I could have made for my education, life, and growth as a person. This experience is only the beginning of many more adventures and memories I will continue to share with others. Each day, I fall deeper in love with my life than ever before. The moment I realized I get to create the life I want, instead of fulfilling the expectations of others, was the moment I discovered my wings. I am so proud of myself for taking this leap of uncertainty in my life just months ago without knowing what my future would become. I am blessed to have received the support from Verto Education, mentors, and family in my life to embark on this transformative experience of traveling and studying abroad in a completely new country, environment, and among different people on this shared Earth.

I received a chance to start anew here in Costa Rica, leaving behind what no longer served me on my plane ride. I opened my wings and roamed the sky with new flocks, strengthening my feathers. I built self confidence, resilience, and exploration through dance, hugs, smiles, laughs, playing, and flying with the other birds. As I head back home to Chicago, I am taking with me the nostalgia from my past, hope for my future, and just enough in this moment. Being present in this moment within my body, my mind, among others, and within the world enabled me to open my eyes and start living the life I didn’t realize I was holding myself back to. Life is right here. There is no need to have all of the details figured out yet or soon. Simply soak up as much of this current moment as you can and embrace the journey of spontaneity as you grow, adapt, and learn from your experiences.

It is the second to last weekend before I leave Costa Rica and my experiences with Verto Education Pura Vida. I am heading to Puerto Viejo on a weekend girls trip with two of my closest chicas. As I peer out the window, I reminisce on all of the memories I made this semester.

It is now the last weekend of my study abroad experience as I head to the Dominical beach town with a close mentor of mine. Without her, I wouldn’t have even considered or thought I was capable of starting my life abroad. In high school, I thought being accepted into a selective college would be my greatest achievement, but I was farther from the truth. I applied to several full ride scholarships and 16 colleges only to be either rejected or thousands of dollars in debt. Additionally, I didn’t fully know my plans for the future or the career path I wanted to pursue, but I took a chance. I received a full scholarship, immersing myself in explorative, fascinating, and close-knit classes taught by professors with unique global experiences in one of the most biodiverse countries in the world! Not to mention, making meaningful connections with people all across the U.S. and the globe, chasing waterfalls, white water rafting, exploring botanical gardens, going to Panama, volunteering for community service projects in Turrialba, dancing with friends, stargazing, practicing my Spanish with locals, participating in clubs on campus, and trying new foods. Being more open-minded in my experience overall has contributed to a wholesome experience in Costa Rica so far with Verto Education!

I will never forget the cozy RV I stayed at, the rejuvenating restorative yoga practice I was a part of, the soup, pita pockets, burritos, tacos, patacones and other delicious food I ate at beautiful restaurants and on the beach. Going to the Manuel Antonio National park and watching sloths, white tailed and black howler monkeys, birds, blue monarch butterflies, coatis and more animals in their natural element. Lest not forget going on a private boat ride, sipping fresh coconut water from coconuts right from the palm trees, holding and feeding white tailed monkeys’ bananas, and riding ocean waves along the pacific coast. I felt empowered in my body and spirit during an ecstatic dance with my sisters and other beautiful souls just days before the solar eclipse. Rafting along the Pacuare River, and late nights spent warming my body next to the fire, watching the kaleidoscope of stars unfold above the sky, and the sound of rolling waves singing me to sleep in complete serendipity.

A smile slips across my face as I watch the sunset and bewilder at the bounty of palm trees in the distance. My eyes are closed, my hand is floating out of the window, and the wind is kissing my skin in all the right places. At this moment, I am light! I am blessed to be alive and present in this uncertain world alongside the support and love from Verto participants and staff, CATIE campus staff, and my professors who made this experience worthwhile for me. Consistently showing up for myself and trusting the process is the mindset I hope to take home with me after my first semester of college abroad.

I hope this glimpse into my experience abroad with Verto Education in Costa Rica inspires you in some way to get outside of your comfort zone, spread your wings, and never stop flying. No matter how long it takes, you are enough where you are to start living and breathing the life you desire and deserve. ✨ My pura vida means living in alignment with this moment, my mind, body, the world, and others enough as I am. Now get out there and create your own! What are you waiting for? 🌎

Pura Vida mi familia!

Want to see if a Verto start to college can work for you? Apply today to get started.