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On April 25th, 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake stuck in Nepal — the country’s worst in 80 years. Nepali Nangsal Lama, an intern during our first year of operation, has shared details about the dire circumstances surrounding her village in the Manaslu region. Due to the high altitude, it is difficult for many NGOs to reach this area. If you’d like to help provide shelter, food, and medical supplies, a fundraising campaign has been set up to directly help the residents of the Manaslu region. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the earthquake.

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Wanderlust: an irresistible desire to travel

While enrolled at THINK Global School, students are encouraged to be creative during the course of their studies and travels. When the students document these thoughts, we are often delighted with the results. In ‘Wanderlust: an irresistible desire to travel,’ ninth grader Utkarsha V. recounts her month traveling across Costa Rica, learning valuable lessons and overcoming fears. ‘Wanderlust’ first appeared on Utkarsha V.s’ blog.

I always think back to where my story starts. I don’t start with the good things because I appreciate the fact that life is not always good. I look back to the day in New Zealand when it was 7:00 am in the morning and I was listening to the song 피터팬, my mind thinking only about the upcoming math class. We had all been informed that our upcoming semester in Turkey was cancelled due to security issues, and it wasn’t certain where our next semester would be.

We were all excited to know where the next semester would be, and that’s when the news came. “The next semester is going to be in Costa Rica!” my classmate yelled, his phone in his hand as he read from an email. I could hear screams of happiness everywhere and people were running in the corridors. I myself was clapping and my friend was laughing at something I have no idea about. Costa Rica. Yes! The adventure begins! The wanderlust awaits!

The excitement was short lived. When I went back home for Christmas break we were given some articles to read and some videos to watch about Costa Rica. Costa Rica supports 6% of the world’s biodiversity and the videos that I watched showed me some (I am embarrassed to admit this) clips that scared the living daylights out of me. Snakes. Frogs. Crocs. And god knows what else.

I am not being negative or anything but imagine yourself in a situation where you read an itinerary and it says “A week in the jungle exploring Costa Rica’s wildlife and flora!” You’ll get super pumped up; however, when you watch videos and read articles saying,“This extremely venomous snake is deadly.” Or, “You can expect scorpions casually coming in and out of your room.” I don’t know about you, but every bone in my body was shivering. At this point all I wanted was to survive. But oh how life makes us big fools…

I reached Costa Rica and my trip started two days after my arrival. The trip was planned to be a month long, and we were traveling across the whole of Costa Rica. I couldn’t wait to see the things Costa Rica held for us. But somewhere in that heart which was gushing with adrenaline, there was fear. The fear of meeting “new friends,” also known as:

  • Poison dart frogs (Don’t even get me started on my frog phobia)
  • Spider monkeys (No they aren’t Spiderman’s clone)
  • Pit viper snakes (I have seen one even though it’s one of the rarest snakes to spot. Now that’s called luck.)
  • Almost everything you can find in a wildlife guide.
  • I don’t really have a fear of adventurous activities like rafting down Class V rapids or jumping in waterfalls, but wildlife and I don’t get along very well. There are some wildlife and birds that I absolutely love: I have had hummingbirds fly across my face and it was great. And sloths are the best, adorable, little things ever. Yet reptiles are not things that please me.

    Anyways, the trip began and I was enjoying every bit of it. I had homestays in my second week and it was great to live with a Costa Rican family and learn their culture (and SPANISH!). The rafting excursion turned out to be one of the best moments I had on the trip. Nothing could be better than rafting a Class IV rapid, settling in a hammock, having spaghetti for dinner, and then sleeping in a tent that gives you “a natural star-gazing experience.” I wish I could share everything about my trip with all of you, but firstly, I don’t want my blog to be a big, fat book and secondly I am going to publish individual blog posts for special experiences (sometime soon!)

    I didn’t meet “new friends” in the first few weeks and neither did any of my friends (here, I am talking about human friends). The third week was in a research station where we did science sample work. This is the amazing thing about THINK Global School. Where else can you make quadrats, take samples, and do species counts for a science project? TGS is a great place that gives us marvelous opportunities to do things that we could never have imagined doing. I feel that we tend to learn a lot more when we do things firsthand. TGS lets us see the world firsthand and learn from it. We don’t just say that the world is our classroom. It actually is.

    In the research station I saw many types of wildlife, ranging from reptiles to mammals and from mammals to birds. I didn’t miss a lot. I saw many poison dart frogs and they were more scared of me than I was of them. (I knew that was going to happen but it still came to me as a surprise.) There was a snake right in the front porch and I was examining it closely, trying to figure out which type it was. I also saw spider monkeys and white-faced capuchin, and I have to admit that they are the coolest things ever. Their speed, their intelligence to understand predation from different predators, their means of communicating with each other and just everything about them is breathtaking. I was not scared of any of them; in fact, I am glad that I saw things that I considered “fear.” I don’t know how to say this (I feel so stupid right now), but I’ll say it in the way it is: wildlife is more afraid of us than we are of them, and they mean no harm to us unless we go around troubling them.

    After this realization we went dolphin watching and saw so many lovely, wild dolphins. One awesome incident that occurred here was when we swam in a water sprout. It was magnificent! It was raining all around the sprout but inside the sprout it was calm. The water was crazy and we were being swayed from one side to the other. In other words, it was like swimming in a tornado’s eye. It was one of the craziest experiences of my life. About this time, we were wrapping up our trip and in the next three days we were back to catch up with some studies.

    This trip was an incredible experience and an astounding learning experience, too. We learnt things that were important both academically and for life. We grew up in this trip as we were challenged to think consciously and in an aware manner for the environment. I think that this was one of the most memorable and interesting THINK Global School experiences that I’ve had, and I’m extremely happy to have experienced it.

    I promise to come back soon with more articles regarding this amazing trip that I’ve had in Costa Rica. I really didn’t want this article to be super lengthy but I’ll definitely share my never-ending experiences with you all because I am glad to have wonderful readers like you! Please tell me how you felt about this article and suggestions are always welcome. I hope you liked reading this article and are looking for more! I’ll be back soon and if you plan to go to Costa Rica or just want any recommendation for food, music or books let me know!

    Let’s be in the wanderlust as long as our lives last,

    Yours in adventure, happiness and writing,

    Utkarsha (UV) :)

    Student Life: cooking lessons in an Athens home kitchen

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    It’s been a little over two weeks since we arrived in Athens, Greece, for the third and final term of the 2014-15 school year. And we wasted no time delving into Greek culture and all of the mouth-watering food that it offers: we’ve already indulged on gyros, souvlaki, tzatziki, greek salad, and eggplant moussaka! One more »

    weXplore Delphi: student snapshots of ancient Greece

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    On Saturday, April 18th, 2015, our ninth, tenth, and twelfth grade students embarked on their first weXplore trip of their Greece term: a visit to Delphi, a UNESCO World Heritage site containing well-preserved ruins steeped in mythological history. Throughout the course of the day they’ll have the chance to explore the Temple of Apollo, the more »

    Schools helping schools: TGS’ footprint in Honduras

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    Students helping Honduras At the beginning of my March 2015 trip to Honduras, I had a chance to sit through Shin Fujiyama’s opening speech to an incoming group of student volunteers from Clemson, Stony Brook, University of Maryland, and University of Maryland, Baltimore County. I’ve heard versions of this talk several times before when I’ve more »

    A taste of Athens (video)

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    When our students landed in Athens, Greece, a little over a week ago for the third term of the 2014-15 school year, they immediately embraced an opportunity to take in the food and culture of our new Mediterranean host country. From making cold-pressed olive oil the traditional way to smashing plates on the dance floor, more »

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