GAINING INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE THROUGH A BI-NATIONAL MAPPING TEAM APPROACH BETWEEN TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY AND THE UNIVERSITY OF COSTA RICA: THE STUDENT PERSPECTIVE
Some of the challenges that had to be overcome included language barrier, learning to traverse and map in densely vegetated terrain, and identifying highly weathered vs. non-weathered outcrops. A surprising challenge was communicating with geologic terms because many of these terms did not sound synonymous between Spanish and English. Traversing terrain proved difficult but necessary precautionary measures were taken regarding equipment and being prepared for heavy rains and potential flash flooding.
The study abroad experience was a positive, life changing experience. Whereas many study abroad experiences are a form of academic tourism, our experiences were truly an opportunity to work with and get to know Ticos and their culture on a personal basis, as well as contributing to a better understanding of the geology of Costa Rica. Recommendations include: learning common phrases and geologic terms in each country’s primary language will make cooperative efforts more effective. Students and faculty should carry a fully equipped personal first aid kit. Spend initial time ensuring every person is comfortable using all technological equipment used in the field mapping, as well being prepared to troubleshoot common issues that occur in the field. This is the ultimate capstone course to an undergraduate career in geology.