Cierra Burnett is a Memphis Native. She is currently a Masters student in the Higher Education Administration program and works as a Graduate Assistant for LSU’s Office of Community-University Partnerships.
I never realized just how much studying abroad would change my life. My 10-day excursion to the rich land of Costa Rica was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had in my life. In those few, short days, I fell in love with Cumbia dancing, ate more plantains and gallo pinto than my stomach could hold, practiced my Spanish while chatting with locals, and stood at the edge of a volcano as the sun rose. I gazed in awe at the beautiful architecture of the Teatro Nacional and imagined the people who entered its doors hundreds of years ago.
One of the moments I will always cherish most from the trip was a conversation that I had with a man hula hooping in Parque Central in San Jose. He said something so profound that it has stuck with me since: “Your comfort zone is your dead zone.” When he said those words, I was so moved by the meaning behind them. It was basically like saying that every moment spent afraid to step out of your comfort zone is killing you; And it’s true. I am so glad that I stepped outside of my comfort zone and decided to take on this adventure. I entered Costa Rica an apprehensive American, but I really do believe that I left Costa Rica as a Tica (a colloquial term for a Costa Rica native). I did everything that I could to embrace the culture, the people, and the language of Costa Rica, and that made all the difference.
I wish that every single student would make an effort to study abroad at least once in their college career. It was more meaningful and transformative than any other involvement opportunity that I took advantage of, and my life has been forever changed because of it. I encourage your students to visit the LSU Study Abroad website at http://abroad.lsu.edu/ to gain more information on how they too could have a life-changing experience like I did.