Carter Harris - 2011 Program Participant

Since studying abroad in Costa Rica, Carter has traveled to five different countries and learned how to speak multiple languages on a conversational level. The knowledge about sustainable development he gained through study abroad has stuck with him over the years. To this day Carter enjoys traveling the world with the friends he met while studying abroad too.

Carter and His Friends at the Summit of Chirripo in Costa Rica.
Carter and His Friends at the Summit of Chirripo in Costa Rica. Photo by Carter Harris

Why did you choose ISA over other study abroad programs?

ISA offered the most educational and experiential options. My thought was that if I was going to study abroad, I was going to make the most of my experience. ISA had the most diverse class options. Also, the opportunity of ELAP - their Experiential Learning Program - was very appealing because I wanted to volunteer/intern while studying abroad. 

As a Middle Tennessee State University grad, what advice would you give to other MTSU students who are planning to study abroad in Heredia?

Explore Heredia. Don’t just go to class and return to your house every day. Before and after class explore the side roads and venture out beyond the daily walk to and from school. Heredia is a beautiful city full of gems you cannot find anywhere else in the country. Spend time with your host parents. They will teach you tremendous amounts of knowledge. You will learn more about the culture of Costa Rica and improve your Spanish speaking abilities by spending an hour or two a day interacting with them. Every morning I would have coffee with my host mom while watching the news. I learned more Spanish having coffee with her than I did exploring the surrounding cities on the weekends.  Get out and meet people. If you are shy about meeting people alone ask one of your fellow study abroad friends to accompany you. Meeting other study abroad students and locals will only lead to unforgettable adventures. Bring a good rain jacket if you are studying in the fall.

What made Heredia the best place to study abroad in Costa Rica?

Heredia is a suburb. You get the best of both worlds in Heredia: the city and small town life. The capital San Jose is a twenty-minute bus ride away. Heredia is a peaceful, humble city that gives you all the amenities without being in a stressful big city or an unfulfilling small town. 

Which class did you like the best during your time abroad?

My favorite class was Sustainable Development. It was the class that appealed the most to me when deciding to study abroad in Heredia. I had just recently taken a class called Sustainable Development in Urban Cities at MTSU. The Sustainable Development class in Heredia was the most challenging and rewarding class.

Our class was a group discussion based on reading weekly reading topics. Every topic was relevant and intriguing. We wrote notes from our reading assignments and discussed them in class once a week. Our professor Juan José Lao Martin was the most interesting man I met while studying abroad. He challenged our Western views on every topic and led us to opening our minds to see from a global perspective. He also taught us how to implement solutions to solve global development problems.

What changes have you noticed in yourself and your goals since studying abroad?

Studying abroad taught me how to be better person. I developed intercultural awareness on a first hand basis. I met one of my best friends that I still speak with daily years later and embark on travels with. I learned how a long distance relationship can make or break you, and bring you closer to someone than you ever thought possible. I now have a global network of friends and professionals that I call upon for professional and personal advice. I learned how to be a better friend and the importance of sustaining healthy friendships.

Studying abroad helped me to find out who I really was. As cliché as that sounds, immersing in another culture brings out the unaware ingrained personality traits of every person. You will thank yourself later for studying abroad and you will kick yourself later for the opportunities you did not take, but overall you will become a better person.