WBU students experience different class setting on Costa Rica trip

Release Date: June 12, 2009    

By Adam Henthorn, PR intern

Those who have attended or are currently attending college can appreciate the monotony of hour after hour spent in a classroom. How enjoyable would a course be if you were able to take it on a beach or in an exotic rainforest? For Wayland Baptist University students enrolled in the Spanish Study Tour at the beginning of the summer, this was a reality.

A group of more than twenty Wayland students were led by Spanish professors Dr. José Rubio and Dr. Joshua Mora to the shores and forests of Costa Rica for two and a half weeks of learning, experience and fun. Their studies were held from 9-12 in the morning in an open-air hut in the rain forest, a mere 200 meters from the beach.

“We had class outside everyday,” said senior Diana Gutierrez. “You could hear noises from the birds and monkeys. The air had a sweet smell.”

“Students got six credit hours,” explained Rubio, who taught the intermediate classes along with Mora. “The iguanas were a distraction sometimes.”

The class also participated with social work and attended high school English classes, as well as interacted with people in the town of Nosara where they stayed.

“We didn’t just learn in the classroom from a book. We had to use it and apply it,” said Chase Aycock, a sophomore from Lorenzo.

The trip wasn’t all class and studies however. The day-to-day cultural aspects and activities made the trip fun for all the students. Whether it was soccer or fútbol, fishing in a river, riding horses through the rain forest, or simply walking along the beach, everyone found an enjoyable task.

“It was very humbling and very fun playing [soccer] with the high school kids,” Aycock said.

One standout cultural experience for many in the group was the Costa Rican diet.

“The food was very healthy,” said Gutierrez. “We had fruit every day.”

“There were plenty of pineapples,” recalls Rubio. “There were mangos, and bananas were a favorite fruit with the students.”

One dish that many seemed to enjoy was casado or plato casado. It is a dish comprised of rice and beans, as well as almost anything you can think to add, from chicken or fish to vegetables and fried bananas.

Some of the students went the whole way in experiencing the culture by hunting, catching and eating iguanas. While a few shied away from the opportunity, those who tried seemed to enjoy the dish, which according to Rubio, “tastes better than chicken.”

The trip came to a close with two days spent in Fortuna, where the group had the opportunity to go spelunking (exploring caves), watch soccer games, and go zip-lining beside the Arenal Volcano.

Aside from all their cultural experiences, the students and professors gained a feeling of friendship and unity and a strong sense of community.

“The last night we went out and had a fire on the beach,” says Gutierrez. “We sat in a circle and held hands and sang songs. It was like a family.”

“As a group, we grew and learned a lot together,” Aycock said. “For me personally, I gained a greater respect for the purity of life, or as the Costa Ricans say ‘pura vida.’”  

“[The students] formed a true Wayland Baptist community,” said Rubio. “They grew as persons and as Christians.”

As for future summer academic excursions to Costa Rica, Dr. Rubio simply said: “We are going to go back.”