So, this is a blog for you guys, the once who are considering going abroad and seeing the world, Costa Rica is a great idea!
January 2018 I journeyed to Costa Rica for 10 weeks to a far away place and with people I didn’t know, what’s there to worry about? Believe me there’s a lot to worry about when going travelling but this blog post is going to change that mind set for you and make you reassured about journeying in to the unknown.
Now, some of you may be thinking ‘why should we believe her’, ‘you said Costa Rica was great idea’. Well I’m the last person someone would expect to be travelling 5,390 miles away from home. I will tell you why.
How it all began
I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety in 2012 when I was in year 9 of secondary school life, it had been bubbling away for years before that but never been diagnosed. I believe the trigger for this was when my Nana a couple of years earlier had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Over the years I watched her fade away, not knowing who I was, this was the most heart wrenching part. Then she passed away in 2013 surrounded by her family. Whilst this was going on at home, at school, well I wasn’t at school before my nana died I couldn’t bring myself to go in. After a few months they tried to rehabilitate me back in to the school environment, this took a lot of time, I would only go to the lessons I liked at first and would work my way from there. I dropped nearly all my subjects as they were causing me too much stress. In 2012 I was put on antidepressants, I was on them for 3 years with the doses getting higher and higher but 12th October 2015, I came off them (after going down in doses) and I got a tattoo to commemorate it. In 2014 I left school with 3 GCSE’S at a grade C. I got in to college to study animal welfare, I was in the lower course as I didn’t have enough GCSE’S. But I didn’t let that stop me, I graduated with a distinction and went to the higher-level course for 2 years. I finished that course with a DDD, which is a triple distinction.
After that I didn’t know what to do whether to go to university, go travelling or get a job. Which is probably where all you guys are now. I’ll tell you this, going to Costa Rica is one of the best things I have ever done, yeah, I lost my go pro in a waterfall and bruised myself surfing and fell off a quad bike but I wouldn’t change anything, well maybe not losing my go pro but apart from that nothing, it was an incredible experience. And I would want everyone to experience it as well.
So, Costa Rica was a new, scary, and exciting experience for me. I have never in my life ever done something like this before. So many aspects of this trip were new to me, I hadn’t been away from home for longer than 2 weeks and I’m not a very social person, so coming to a foreign country with 20 people I didn’t know was definitely a challenge for me.
Taking the leap of faith
Starting from the beginning, deciding to travel. This is when the research comes in, you need to choose either which country you want to go to or the project or activities you want to do and help with. And on The Leap’s website, they have exactly that. Choosing by departure date, destination, type of experience, volunteer type, and internship.
So back to me and my experience with deciding to travel. For some people they are very spontaneous with their decision making but for me it took a while to decide what to do and where to go as this trip was 5,390 miles out of my comfort zone. At this stage I would say just do it! Jump in the deep end and book those tickets.
I want to also be honest with you. The first bit was awful for me, I was extremely homesick. I missed my family and my friends so much and all I wanted to do was go home. One of my team leaders was an incredible help to me and I am forever in her debt. Rachel Story, if you are lucky enough to have her as your team leader you will have the best time away, she is the most amazing and kindest person that I’ve ever met. Anyway, back to why she’s amazing, she sat with me every day for the first two weeks and we talked about how I was feeling and how I was coping with being homesick and other struggles. I cried every time we had our daily talk and she convinced me to stay and if I went home, I would probably regret it. 2 weeks and 1 day in no crying. And I was starting to enjoy myself more.
I believe if you have struggles or issues, that’s ok and it shouldn’t hold you back from doing this or anything in life for that matter. I also believe having someone to talk to is important if you are struggling as this was my foundation for how I overcame my issues and struggles.
Friends for life
I made amazing friends that I’m sure I’ll have for a long time! This is also an amazing part, you go away with strangers and return with lifelong friends. I don’t know what I would do without them now. I also did things I never thought I’d ever do like go snorkelling or zip lining over a rainforest. I also loved the culture that was there, talking to the locals and experiencing local delicacies. I’m also gluten intolerant and this didn’t hold me back either. I still ate out with friends and had takeaways and I was still part of the group even though I had a dietary requirement, which if you have one, you’ll understand how this can affect your social life.
Coming home, I couldn’t wait to come home. Even though I had an incredible time I was 100% ready to come home. I said goodbye to everyone and promised that I will return one day and see them all again.
To end this, basically research where and what you want to do, have a good support network around you if you need it, stick it out even if it’s tough it’s worth it, I promise you and you’re stronger than you think. Enjoy every minute of it and try to look with your eyes and not your phone.
This experience changed my life and will change yours as cheesy as this sounds it will. I was scared to go to Costa Rica and with people I didn’t know and now I’m travelling across Europe for 3 months on my own and then to Australia on my own for 2 months. Once you travel you get the travel bug. And you just want to go and explore everything! And what I did to help the population of the turtles that we helped send in to the sea makes going on a trip even better, to help save something, whether it’s a species and environment or just helping people. It’s a wonderful feeling and I’m pleased that I’ve left knowing I’ve made a difference.
Well I hope this helps in making your decision or that I’ve inspired you. Enjoy your adventures!