In one of my favorite books, Into the Wild, the protagonist writes, “The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security.” I remember rediscovering this book fall semester when I was considering studying abroad—that quote cemented my decision to study abroad.
|Trying out zip-lining in Monteverde|
Since my arrival in Costa Rica, I have had so many new experiences—enough to fill an 80-page Microsoft word document. As I read over those pages, I keep finding that I have written about the joy that I have found in trying things I never thought I would do—zip lining, bungee jumping, caving, engaging in Spanish debates, and trying new foods. Chris McCandless, the protagonist from Into the Wild, was absolutely right.
Coming to a new country, over 2,000 miles away from home, terrified me. Traveling through customs alone terrified me. The thought of making a terrible mistake while speaking Spanish terrified me. And more than anything, Latin dancing terrified me.
I have the worst coordination in the world. Really, I can trip over myself. So, when my friends told me that we were going to a Latin dancing club one Thursday, I laughed at them. This girl, born with two left feet, was not about to embarrass herself in front of complete strangers. However, an hour later, I found myself contentedly watching different dancers twirling across the floor. But someone else had a different idea. A man, who introduced himself as Alonso, probably in his early 30’s, with frizzy hair tied back in a samurai ponytail, glasses, and a huge smile, asked me to dance. I was a little hesitant, but everyone told me to go, and after warning him that I really couldn’t dance very well, he led me to the floor.
|Pura Vida at its finest!|
Yes, yes it did. And it was an incredible experience.
I returned to my seat with a beat red face, hair out of its braid, jeans that were glued to my skin with sweat, and eyes sparkling. Sometimes, one needs to be terrified into having these “encounters with new experiences,” because as I learned, there is no greater joy than losing one’s “inclination for monotonous security.”
Wishing you a pura vida,
Class of 2016