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June 18, 2014

Students Explore Culture and Diversity of Costa Rica

Three Lafayette students enjoy aqua blue water near a waterfall in Costa Rica.

Students enjoy the beautiful Costa Rican environment.

Costa Rica has beaches, volcanoes, rain forests, and mountains that are inhabited by numerous species of birds, monkeys, turtles, reptiles, and amphibians.

“Seeing the diversity of wildlife during my time abroad was in and of itself exciting. I had the opportunity to snorkel off the Caribbean coast and see several sharks. It got to the point that walking outside and seeing monkeys or taking hikes in the rainforest were everyday experiences,” says Dolcie DeGrandchamp ’15, a neuroscience major, one of 11 students taking Lafayette’s fall semester in Costa Rica.

The program is headed by Susan Basow, Charles A. Dana Professor of Psychology, who led several cultural trips around the country and taught a required cross-cultural psychology course.

Dolcie DeGrandchamp ’15 walks with a a toucan perched on her arm.

Dolcie DeGrandchamp ’15 makes friends with a toucan.

Students lived with host families in San José and studied at Universidad Veritas, where they took four courses. In addition to Basow’s class, all students had an immersion course in Spanish matched to their level of competence. Students chose two other classes from a wide range of possibilities, such as Marine Biology and Human Rights in Latin America.

“This study abroad experience has not only taught me the true meaning of multicultural competence, but also about my true cultural and personal identity,” says Andy Munoz ’15, an international affairs major. “In addition, living with a host family, participating in volunteer opportunities with Costa Rican orphans, going on excursions, and joining student clubs such as the Costa Rican Dance Club has allowed me to further promote a mutual cultural exchange with the Costa Ricans that I met.”

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