Castleton student George Grant thought picking up a male iguana in a Costa Rica rainforest park and showing the enormous animal to his fellow classmates would be an incredible way to start the trip.
But just after arriving for the January term study abroad trip, luck was not on Grant’s side. The iguana turned and bit a large chunk out of Gratn’s leg leaving him with a hole in his ankle and large gashes on the front of his leg.
Four hours and 27 stitches later Grant was released from a local hospital and put on a flight home after only 18 hours upon landing in Costa Rica.
“It was a single moment that had severe consequences,” said Professor Cynthia Moulton who accompanied Grant to the hospital.
Moulton ultimately Grant was to be sent home to recover due to a chance of infection.
“I didn’t want to risk it,” Moulton said, adding that she gets very attached to each student which made the decision difficult.
The rest of the class continued the adventure through Costa Rica having learned an essential lesson.
“Don’t touch any of the animals.” said senior Jaclyn Van Eck,
“It was like the joke for the rest of the trip.”
The remainder of the 10-day trip consisted of exploring plant life, touring national parks and experiencing wild animals in their natural habitats. While traveling from city to city, students observed and studied much of the diversity and unique agriculture prevalent in the Costa Rican culture.
“I always wanted to study abroad, but I could never fit it in,” said Van Eck, adding that the college’s January term provided a perfect opportunity for her to study a different culture while not being away for several months.
Starting in San José the group traveled by bus to go on excursions like zip lining, and touring a coffee plantation with stops at waterfalls and cloud forests.
“The culture is absolutely fascinating and to see the vast amount of animal diversity was an opportunity that comes around rarely,” said student Stephanie Perkins. She also stated that she would love to visit Costa Rica again in the future.
With the trip counting as four course credits and also filling a science frame the trip was not all fun and games.
Students were required to keep a journal and complete several other projects and reading assignments, along with a final reflection paper.
“It’s very rewarding to show students things they wouldn’t otherwise see,” said Moulton.
She hopes to teach the course again in the future, and give more students the opportunity to experience tropical diversity first hand.
“The program offers a highly educational and memorable experience” said Perkins, “my time spent in Costa Rica was truly life-changing.”