Swanson School of Engineering Study Abroad Scholarship Blog Post One: The Program and The Country

Hi, my name is Leanne Boody. I am a rising sophomore in the Swanson School of Engineering. I participated in Pitt’s Plus3 program studying in Costa Rica for two weeks to learn more about the country, with a focus on the coffee and banana supply chain. 

The Plus3 program is only offered to freshman in the engineering and business schools, making all the participants relatively close in age. As the theme of this trip suggests, the business side of things is larger than the engineering side. However company visits were still interesting and there was a lot to enjoy about the country and the people. The Costa Rica trip differs from the other Plus3 locations as students stay with locals throughout almost all of the trip. This aspect fo the trip really immerses students in the culture of the area and helps new connections form between roommates. On a daily basis our host family would provide breakfast, and then we were expected to walk from our host family’s house to the university. Everybody’s commute was a different length, mine being around half an hour. After meeting at the university the school aspect of this trip would begin. On company visit days our bus driver would arrive and usually a 20-90 minute bus trip could be expected. On days with guest speakers we would all go to a classroom in the university. After the lecture, lunch was often on our own, allowing to explore the mall across the street. Following that, we would meet back at the university, for either a speaker or an activity. The school day finished up around 3-6pm and dinner was provided by your host family. You then had free time to bond with your host family, meet up with fellow classmates, or explore the city of Heredia, Costa Rica.

Before traveling to Costa Rica, I had only known that the country was small and humid. After visiting for only two weeks, I can’t say I have the most qualified understanding of the country and the culture. However, I can certainly appreciate more about it after meeting its diverse population, luscious greenery, vivid wildlife and laidback vibe. The country is unique in many ways, large and small scale. From a foreigner’s perspective, I really enjoyed the awareness surrounding what we put in our bodies. The food was always fresh and ripe, making it one of my favorite parts fo the country. This focus on health coincides with their awareness of the environment as well. 

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