As seemingly the most introverted homebody that has ever lived, I never would have thought that I would feel so comfortable in a different country.
A few months ago, I would have quickly rejected days filled with outdoor adventures and meeting new people. Ordering takeout and staying at home with my dogs was my version of paradise. Then Mary Kathryn Carpenter, director of Vida, wandered into my depth reporting class last semester looking for journalism students interested in taking their writing or photography abroad.
I dismissed the idea at first. “I don’t have the money for that,” “My parents would never go for that,” and “Ten days without my room? No thanks,” were a few of the thoughts that went through my mind at the time.
But this nagging sense of curiosity made me fill out the application.
“I’ll just see if I get accepted,” I thought to myself.
I didn’t think anything would come of it, but sure enough, I got called in for an interview that would solidify my commitment to the Vida team.
That chance meeting led to so many adventures in Costa Rica. I hiked up an old lava flow to see the Arenal Volcano, ate a termite (tasted kinda minty), swam in the frigid pools of the La Fortuna waterfall, saw monkeys jumping from branch to branch above my head, learned to surf (I may have stood up once or twice) and so much more.
Maybe, the best part of the trip was the people.
I met foresters working to combat climate change with their reforestation projects, a family that has made their own coffee for generations (I can never go back to Starbucks), a troop of surfers that took us on the most grueling hike of my life to watch the sunset over the ocean and cab drivers who initiated many an interesting conversation.
Now as I sit at around 30,000 feet on my way back to Alabama, I’m eager for the team to put together our content and have a finished product chronicling our adventures for others to enjoy.
This opportunity is one that I never imagined that I would be offered, let alone take. I’m endlessly thankful to Kim Bissell, our professor and leader on this journey, for giving me the chance to experience another culture, to have international reporting on my resumè and have the adventure of a lifetime.
Perhaps most of all, I’m thankful I wasn’t absent the day Mary Kathryn came to my class.
So to other introverts or homebodies out there that dread the idea of leaving their comfortable routines, I challenge you to not waste another minute. Get up and go.