Collecting Water in Sanari Village


By Oscar Miao, Yale University ’17

Oscar was a student on our Summer 2016 Global Health Issues in South Africa  program. This program includes a homestay in a Venda community in HaMakuya. Oscar describes a day in the life during this part of the program below.

We wake up to the sounds of chatter and laughter outside our rondavel, a traditional African-style hut. I slowly get out of my sleeping bag, releasing a low moan of pain from sleeping on impenetrable cement. I fill up my bottle from a tank, and head outside of our rondavel to brush my teeth with the prepared water. Brush, gulp, and spit – a routine for brushing without a tap. Our homestay mother recognizes that we are up, and serves a straw basket full of fruit, bread, and tea.

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Costa Rican Wildlife


By Jocelyn Zorn, Sarah Lawrence College ’17

COSTA RICA: Tropical Biology on a Changing Planet, Fall 2016

iguana-2Costa Rica is home to the most fascinating and charismatic wildlife I’ve ever had the privilege to encounter. One of the most memorable wildlife sightings of my life happened in La Selva, where I got about two feet away from a three toed sloth and her baby. I walked by her completely by chance, and got to watch up close as she slowly (although not quite as slow as I expected!) climbed by me, calmly looking at me while I got closer to examine her. Iguanas also have a surprising amount of charisma.

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Life in the Jungle


By Natalie Myers, Occidental College ’18

COSTA RICA: Tropical Biology on a Changing Planet, Fall 2016

The Tropical Biology on a Changing Planet semester with OTS really appealed to me because of all the amazing places and field sites that the program visits- Las Cruces, La Selva, Cuerici, Monteverde, Bocas del Toro, and others. I was most excited about visiting La Selva, because that was where I knew that I would see the most animals.

On our first day at La Selva, we went on a walk with a nature guide. We saw a mother and baby two toed sloth from the bridge, the famous white cotton ball bats, howler monkeys and various other amazing creatures. These animals were all of the big, charismatic animals that everyone wants and hopes to see in the jungle, and I was excited to see them but not really that surprised.


I was more surprised by and interested in all of the small creatures and things that you don’t notice at first. Throughout my time at La Selva, I saw dink frogs the size of my thumbnail, tiny multicolored weevils, and tiny bromeliads. It was harder to find these, but I enjoyed seeing them a lot more. And these were only some of the things that I noticed more once I began to look past the large mammals and organisms.

All in all, this experience has taught me that its important to recognize the significance and role of these smaller, but equally if not more important, creatures around us. By doing so, we can learn more about the ecosystems around us and how to better protect them.


By Bridget Gross, College of Wooster ’18

Bridget was a student on the Spring 2016 Tropical Biology on a Changing Planet Semester in Costa Rica. This post originally appeared here.

An interesting thing happened during my first session of Population and Community Ecology this semester. My professor stood up in front of class and introduced herself and talked a little bit about her favorite habitat/ecosystem/biome. We then had to stand up, say our name and our favorite habitat/ecosystem/biome. Naturally, I said my favorite ecosystem was the Páramo, a high altitude ecosystem found in Central and South America. Continue reading

Summer in Costa Rica: Las Alturas


By Zoe Wood, Bowdoin College ’18

COSTA RICA: Tropical Biology, Summer 2016

There are several ways to encounter and experience nature, but most of the time we just glaze over the surface. I have always been inclined to hiking, camping, and spending time outdoors. But this past month, I’ve learned that some of the most valuable lessons we learn from nature can come not from rushing to a peak, but from taking it slow and observing.

las-alturas-picLas Alturas Biological Station in Costa Rica is not much more than a remote cabin and series of trails up in the montane cloud forest. When we pulled up to the station the air was cool and quiet; I was immediately reminded of home and felt relaxed. Tell your friends and family that you wont be reachable for a few days, the OTS staff reminded us.

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