CRIA – Moving to Costa Rica- NOV 15, 2016
By Lauren Umlauf
Setting foot onto this green campus was nothing like I thought it would be, back when I still had to
flick my feathered hair out of my eyes to look around. I had never seen anything other than your
average caucasian population, with the occasional mixed race student. That was just how I grew
up. Pennsylvania does not exactly have very a diverse population, at least not in the little Amish
area where I was born and raised. I had never heard another language spoken other than on TV,
or seen any wild animal other than a deer or squirrel. I had lived in one place my whole life.
The moment I realized I was meant to be at this school was when I looked around and saw so
many different places within the eyes of my peers. None of them looked the same as my usual
Pennsylvanian. It was obvious that they were not “my ordinary”, which consisted of people who
have never set foot out of their home town, were close minded, and who had nothing better to do
other than start drama or commit crime because there was nothing else to do in town. Entering the
campus of CRIA in 2014 opened my eyes quite a bit.
For the first time I saw beautiful Latina girls who could run circles around me when they merely
spoke about their day in their own language. I learned how insanely impressive it is when a person
is bilingual, or even multilingual. I learned that there is no limit to the amount of stories all these
people could tell me. Even though my grade consisted of 15 people instead of my usual 150, they
were more interesting than all of those boring Pennsylvanians combined into one giant Amish
Then, when I looked outside I would see giant lizards sitting in the grass like nobody’s business. I
was mesmerized by beautiful, huge blue birds that people thought of as pests because they were
so common, and so hungry. The variety of species in this little country is insane, and comparing
the biodiversity to that of my home town would be like comparing a ripe watermelon to a grape. No
Here, I found out that I actually love the ocean and the things that live in it, and that getting sandy
on the beach isn’t that bad if I get to see this unbelievable view. Now I want to major in Marine
Biology. Believe it or not, I hated my parents for sending me here at first. I thought I would hate the
heat, and that learning a new language would be pointless. I have never been more wrong in my
life, for this little adventure has turned into my life. A much better one, too.
Thanks mom and dad!
By Tessia Ladas:
When you are holding the hands of a child who has hasn’t had a proper meal, a bed to sleep on, or
fresh water to drink it takes you back and forces you to realize how fortunate you are. Volunteering
and helping a community is perceived as a selfless act of giving, however, I must admit I’m a bit
selfish in the fact that seeing a smile on a child’s face when they see the small painted shark made
out of toilet paper roll makes my day a 100 times brighter. Volunteering allows you to experience
life through another’s eyes in a world most people turn their backs on. It reminds us the world isn’t
always what we see in front of us. It’s not a 4 X 6 screen plated in glass, it’s not the drama we as a
society are consumed by. It is in fact a collective group of individuals brought together by
compassion and love. I attended CRIA because I found their goals and aspirations to build a
community based on these attributes inspiring and refreshing. To value one’s contribution and
individual guidance is something we should all strive for.
By Madison Wright
Talking about moving and actually doing it are two very different things. My parents had always
talked about moving to Costa Rica after I graduated as their retirement plan, but I said, “They have
schools there!” Then the plan changed to moving to Costa Rica for my junior year of high school. I
was filled with excitement, but I was also filled with fear. I was so excited to get out of my small little
hometown in California, but I was also scared to leave everything behind and start new. It didn’t
feel real until I started packing my bags. I was an emotional wreck. I had lived in Antelope my
entire life and I had never gone to a new school. The hardest thing was leaving all of my family and
friends and coming to a place where I knew no one. I was hoping that the amazing experience of
living in a foreign country would make up for it.
So far, I am so grateful for this move. Costa Rica is a beautiful country and I feel so lucky to be
able to say this is my new home. Every time I post a picture on social media I get so many
responses saying, “I’m so jealous!” CRIA is a really great school, filled with really great people. All
of the students and staff are so nice and welcoming. The coolest part for me is getting to meet
people from around the world. There is so much diversity at CRIA and I love it. At my old school
everyone was American, but at CRIA I have met people from all kinds of places. Overall, I am
loving this change.
By Jasmine Wornstaff
Walking onto CRIA’s campus, you would not believe it is a school. Our classes are situated among
the dry forest, surrounded by the dramatic Costa Rican mountains. The howler monkeys will
serenade you as you walk from room to room. The students who attend CRIA also have a “pura
vida” way of thinking and treating others with respect. I have students in my classes from Spain,
France, Israel, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru and more. We are like a mini United Nations! The
students are known to be extremely welcoming to newcomers as most of us have made the
journey from one country to the next. CRIA also has an outstanding curriculum, making sure our
students get the best education around. We offer a generous number of courses including
Advanced Placement which allow us to gain university credit while still in high school! This great
variety of classes gives us so many options in choosing a future path for ourselves. Personally, I
have attended 4 different schools in 4 countries and out of all of them, Costa Rica International
Academy has been my all-time favorite. CRIA kids are given the skills and confidence to make a
real difference in the world. Costa Rica is truly pura vida for me!
By Ellie Rill
Growing up I thought my whole life would be lived in my small town in Washington State. I
would have never imagined spending my high school years in a third world country with a first
language different than my own. Costa Rica was always a place on the map that I put on my
bucket list to visit one day. Now I am lucky enough to say I live here and attend Costa Rica
International Academy, with other great students from across the world. We get a completely
different experience than most and are able to explore other cultures at such a young age. Our
school gives us so many opportunities to get out in the community and see what Costa Rica has to
offer. We go on a wide range of field trips, from waking up at 3 am in order to watch turtle eggs
hatch to kayaking down the Tamarindo estuary to study the mangroves. These field trips are life
changing and are something I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Costa Rica is a beautiful
country and I understand why it is ranked one of the happiest places in the world!
By Elena Alvarez
It was on our way back from a field trip to Rincon de la Vieja, that I came to the realization that my
classmates and I are not your average teenagers. We don’t go to the mall on the weekends, we
go to waterfalls and volcanoes. Instead of going to a new store, we go to different beach everyday.
We don’t play American football, we surf. We don’t arrive late to class because we get stuck behind
traffic, we arrive late because we get stuck behind cows. And our daily attire is a bikini and a pair of
flip flops. I guess we are a lucky bunch!