My experience through uVolunteer was better than I could have ever hoped for. Flying into Costa Rica, barley knowing Spanish, away from everything I knew was a little nerve racking, but I was instantly at ease when I was greeted right out front of the airport by a couple of uVolunteer staff, ready to take me to the dorms in San Ramon.
After our taxi ride, we arrived at the dorms where I got an introduction to Costa Rican culture and San Ramon. I finally settled into the dorms, which were very cozy, welcoming and safe. There I met a few other volunteers who much to my surprise invited me on a few trips to La Fortuna and Puerto Viejo. In addition, I also had the opportunity to travel to Panama with my newly made friends, which added so much to my experience in Central America.
When I came back from Panama I was ready to start my project in San Carlos at La Marina Animal Rescue. Again I was given plenty of information about my project and home stay family, as well as the bus system. I was taken by two staff members on the first few buses, and they sent me off on the last one that would bring me to my destination. After smooth traveling, I was dropped off at La Marina where I was greeted by the family who owns the center, as well as the daughter of the family I would be staying with for the next couple of weeks.
The home-stay family was one of the most incredible experiences, and they made me feel like I was part of the family. I spent Christmas and New Years Eve with them, which allowed me to experience a different type of holiday season than I was accustomed to back in California.
When I completed my project I had a few days to travel around Central America and met up with another volunteer back in San Ramon. We traveled to Nicaragua, another unexpected trip, as well as to the Pacific side of Costa Rica, which I recommend to anyone who has a little extra time.
Going through uVolunteer was one of the most life changing experiences I have had, and I look forward to future traveling and volunteer projects.