As our time in Monteverde comes to a close, we wanted to reflect on our days here. No people could do this better than the students themselves! This blog is written by two of our WIS students and highlights a normal day here, with some very fun memories included as well.
Hi! We are Audrey Trivedi and Grace Desai and we are both members of the Women in STEM Session II program here in Monteverde. We wanted to walk you through a typical day in our lives here on campus!
To start off their day, many of our peers wake up early to go on a refreshing run down the street. Because of the exemplary biodiversity in Monteverde, they often see countless different animals such as Coatis, white-faced monkeys, howler monkeys, agoutis, and even a puma! While some students are running, other students are enjoying a restful sleep for the busy day ahead of them.
Early in the morning, just after sunrise, we are given the opportunity to milk the cows here on campus! We head over to the farm which is just down the road from the main campus, and we wait for an instructor to come and help us out! For most of us, this program is our first time ever milking cows, so it definitely takes some learning. I was definitely not a natural the first time I tried, but we all laughed along in our mistakes!
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! The wonderful kitchen staff always have our first meal ready for us at 7 o’clock, consisting of a mix of rice, beans, vegetables, eggs, accompanied by a variety of fresh fruits. We always look forward to figuring out what the juice is each meal as it’s always a different fruit!
We start off most of our days here on campus in the Women in STEM classroom. Our instructors, Jess and Vane, are both incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about the biodiversity, wildlife, and the ecology here in Monteverde! If we’re not learning from them during a presentation, we’re getting engaged during a round of Kahoot, enjoying popcorn and an engaging documentary, or outside participating in activities and exploring the campus. For example, during our first week here, we divided into groups and set up camera traps around the trails surrounding the CIEE campus to try and capture some of the local wildlife! It was interesting to see the coatis, agoutis, and birds that set off our cameras.
We also did a fun group activity building mini-models of different energy sources and testing them out using power from either the sun, water, or wind. Throughout our entire trip, we’ve been working on a group presentation focusing on a pioneering woman in STEM who has greatly influenced her field today. This week, we have seen our work pay off as we present them to our peers in the morning. Our work isn’t over just yet though, as we just started our much anticipated final project this Friday!
If we don’t spend our morning in the classroom, we are typically out in the community exploring local farms. We have learned about many different women in STEM through our farm visits. One morning, we visited a sugarcane farm run by a woman in Monteverde where we completed community service hours by digging up the weeds sprouting around her plants. We learned about the many uses of sugar cane within food, and we were able to get some hands-on experience through grinding the sugarcane into a juice that we could taste! This was an opportunity we could not have gained anywhere else because it was so specific to the unique biodiversity and members of the community; however, we can use it as an inspiration for future women in STEM. Aside from the sugar plantation, we visited a cosmetic farm run by a local family where we learned about the chemistry and sustainability behind making soap from local ingredients. Furthermore, we visited a coffee farm run by a single mother, and we saw first-hand the dedication that goes into sustainable practices.
After a busy morning, we head to the dining hall to pick up lunch. While rice and beans are always a staple in the kitchen, there have been many different options such as salad, plantains, chicken, chickpeas, and more. The dining hall has something for everyone and always accommodates dietary restrictions whether a student is vegetarian like me, gluten free, or lactose intolerant.
Although they don’t continue into the third week, we usually start off our afternoons with Spanish class! The best part about studying abroad in CIEE is that it doesn’t matter what level of Spanish you are at before coming because there is a class for everyone! On our second day here our program and Climate Change Mitigation were split up into three different classes: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. In my intermediate class, we often spend class learning hands-on! My teacher always had us drawing, coming up with stories and dialogues, making mini-vocabulary books, and playing games like “Simon Dice!” (Simon Says) and “Papa Caliente” (Hot potato). It was really helpful to improve my Spanish speaking skills and confidence with the language here so I could better communicate with local people. For example, we learned some important vocabulary and phrases to use in the dining hall with the staff when asking for food. On days we don't have Spanish class, we sometimes have additional activities for our program or do more service hours. We have planted trees, cleared areas on the farm, collected samples in the river, taken cooking classes, or learned more about Costa Rican culture!
From 3 o’clock until dinner, we usually have the freedom to choose how we want to spend our time. Some students choose to use this time to rest, get their daily journals done in advance, go on a hike, or spend some time outside with friends. After a long day on and off campus, it’s great to have some time to ourselves.
Some afternoons we bond with our peers through a casual but fun game of soccer.Our program leaders, Megan and Katie, are just as into the game as we are, and there is constantly friendly competition between the two teams. The last game we played, the rain was drizzling and our shoes were caked in mud; however, we still gave it our all. In the end, my team ended up winning, and our trusty cheerleader Gosephine provided some positivity to the losing team!
Our last meal of the day is dinner at 5:30. We are all usually very hungry after a long day of learning and getting outside. One of the highlights of each meal is that we eat with the other high school program on campus, Climate Change Mitigation. We love telling each other about what we did each day and what we are excited about doing the next day. There is a strict no technology rule inside of the cafeteria to ensure we’re always talking and interacting instead of looking down at our phones. Another highlight I can’t forget to mention is the dessert. There’s a different dessert at dinner every day. The brownies, cake, cinnamon rolls, ice cream, fried dough, and more always leave us wanting seconds. It’s the perfect way to end the meal every day!
After dinner, we have lots of different options for how to fill our free time. Some days we rush to a local water-tower to view the reds, pinks, and oranges of the gorgeous sunset. Other days, we all hangout in the rec room to watch a movie of our choice. My personal favorite was Get Out, but we have watched many other movies such as Tangled and She’s the Man. I love to go buy snacks or ice cream with my friends at night because there is always a different flavor to try. A couple nights ago, we all joined together for a karaoke night where nearly everyone performed a song for the group! Some of the highlights were Super Bass, Satisfied, We Don’t Talk About Bruno, I Will Survive, and Only. If we don’t have an organized activity, we often spend time with our friends on the hammocks outside our bungalow. With some of my friends, I watched the movie Midsommar, played charades, and drank tea on the relaxing green hammock by bungalow D.
At the end of the day, we all head back to our own bungalows by 9 o’clock to get a full night’s sleep for the next busy day.