Pura Vida…or Why we are Here by Sam Kilkenny

Why are you here?

I mean, here on this Planet?

I’ll tell you Why: You are here to Hike (yeah, with a capital H).

But you got a fight on your hands.

Netflix wants you to watch their new show.

Industries of all shapes and sizes want your attention—and your money.

Your school assignments yell at you. Apparently they must be completed or you will never graduate.

Your parents tell you it’s not safe.

Your legs tell you they’re too tired.

Your bed calls you back—come on, sleep in, just a little more.

Don’t listen to them!

Don’t listen to any of them! Just pack a bag, bring some water, tighten your boots, and GO.

To Costa Rica—and the UGA Campus in Monteverde specifically.

When you arrive at UGA Costa Rica, you will spend time in the sun, whether you plan to or not; you will eat whole foods; you will be surrounded by good, friendly people.

The sun will provide you with your necessary vitamin D and increase happiness. The food from the Comedor will provide you with the rest of your necessary vitamins. It will be delicious and you will get even more happier. The people will provide you with a community unlike any you’ve known. You will spend every meal with them and get to know people from other programs and other universities. The jokes you will share, the love, kindness, late nights, will of course (I think you know where this is going) increase happiness even more.

The whole campus is alive with smiles and positive attitudes just from being in this amazing place. No one has to try very hard to make it happen. It’s just part of the entire experience. You will be exposed to the trails that surround campus, no matter which program you are in, you will surely go on hikes with a naturalist and be exposed to the local flora and fauna.

During the first week of class, we went on four hikes. It’s amazing to have a naturalist with us that we can ask questions, show us where to go, and point out the interesting things. They have so much knowledge about the species of the area.

But there is also a magic in not knowing everything. It allows your mind to run wild, nothing is off limits and anything is possible. When you don’t know what’s around the corner, don’t know what creature is making that foreign sound, and don’t even know what bug is crawling up your sleeve, you become a kid again.

And you also figure out the real answer to the question I began with: Why are you here?

You are here to seek beauty; You are here to climb the mountain behind the campus—to see the Pacific Ocean; You are here to bear witness to this place. You are here to fight for it—and the rest of our bright marble blue planet.

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