Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

"RA blog" written by Amanda McLearn-Montz

By Annie Gibson

I am handing over my blog on the CIAPA Experience to the students participating in the program. This way you all can have a better idea of what life is like for a student at CIAPA. This blog entry is written by Currin Wallis. She is a freshman student who has begun her first semester of Tulane at CIAPA in Costa Rica 2012. Pura Vida, Professor Gibson

Amanda’s blog:

I’m a sophomore, so I’ve already spent a year at Tulane. I knew this semester at CIAPA would be different; I’d be learning more Spanish and would be taking a break from my pre-med classes. However, I never imagined just how different this semester at CIAPA would be.

This is my first semester as a Residential Adviser, and it is very different than the semesters other first-time RAs are having. I only have five residents, so I know so much more about them than their names, years, and potential majors. We spend so much time together that we’ve gotten to know each very well; we’re like a make-shift family. This makes my job as RA pretty easy. Every once in awhile we’ll have some blips (stomach flu, stolen pizza, minor conflicts), but it always works out.

Residential life is also extremely different. The food is 100% better than Bruff, and the cooks have become our friends. Campus is so peaceful; it’s much easier to find a place to study here, and I’m not woken up by drunks singing at 2:00 a.m. the night before an exam. It is also convenient to be a five-minute walk away from most of my classes. All the workers here are friendly and let me practice my Spanish with them. Best of all, the campus here is just as beautiful as Tulane’s; it has sculptures, flowers, great architecture, and a gorgeous wooded area with a brook.

Being here has also taught me to not live in the college bubble. At Tulane, many of us students stay in our Tulane bubble which consists of campus, college bars, and fraternity houses. I did leave this bubble to work at Reginelli’s, volunteer at the Children’s Hospital, volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club, and row at Bayou St. John and regattas in other states. Despite getting off campus, I never truly explored New Orleans. When I hung out with my friends, we would stay on campus or go to the normal Tulane places, and I would go straight to my destination and back when I left campus for work or volunteering. Here, in San José, I’ve been much more immersed in the city. We take the buses to the University of Costa Rica three times a week for Spanish class. Then, we’ve experienced the night life several times visiting roller rinks and bars. During the day, we’ve gone on guided tours through the city. I’ve also explored San José on my own. As directionally challenged as I am, I’ve even been able to find museums, parks, and cafes on my own. Any day I’m not able to leave CIAPA to explore and experience San José, I’m very disappointed. I can’t believe how many experiences I missed out on staying in Tulane’s bubble, and I plan to drag my friends into New Orleans next semester.

I’ve also gained more independence and discipline. I can take taxis and buses by myself in a different language. I’ve also planned weekend trips without the help of my parents or coaches for the first time. Also, I don’t have a roommate this semester to help me wake-up, and I need to manage my finances more carefully since I’m not working a job this semester. Most of all, I have to stay in shape for the rowing team without scheduled team practices or a coach to hold me accountable.

My favorite part of this experience has to be all of the traveling. All of our trips have increased my love of traveling, and I feel so blessed to see all the places we’ve already been. Some of these places, like Monteverde and Rara Avis, are being severely affected by climate change and will probably change significantly during my lifetime, resulting in specie extinctions. The trips let our classes come to life because we are able to see Costa Rican life, culture, art, and environment firsthand. Because of the trips, our classes are more meaningful.

This experience has changed my life, and I expect it to for the next two months. When I go back to Tulane, I’ll have a much different perspective. I’ll explore more, take advantage of more opportunities, and be a more understanding person. And I will count down the days until I can return to Latin America. I have fallen in love with Latin America, and I hope one day I can serve as a doctor in this amazing place.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Annie Gibson

    Administrative Assistant Professor - Department of Global Education

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La Hora del Cuento: Summer Bilingual Story Hour at the Pebbles Center

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This summer, join us for La hora del cuenta bilingual readings series at the Pebbles Centers of the New Orleans Public Libraries!

On the first and last Saturday of every month, we will read a bilingual book at the Algiers Regional Library and the Children’s Resource Center Library beginning on Saturday April 28 until Saturday, August 25. Children and parents welcome!

Story Hours Dates and Locations

Algiers Regional Branch
Saturday, May 5
2:30 PM

Saturday, June 2
2:30 PM

Saturday, July 7
2:30 PM

Saturday, August 4
2:30 PM

Children’s Resource Center Library
Saturday, April 28
12:00 PM

Saturday, May 26
12:00 PM

Saturday, June 30
12:00 PM

Saturday, July 28
12:00 PM

Saturday, August 25
12:00 PM