Billy Lake

Costa Rica


Costa Rica—the name itself prompts thoughts of exotic landscapes and wildlife in addition to a potentially awesome experience, and that is precisely why I chose to come here, and to study as well of course.

Being a biology major, Costa Rica offers ecology that is unique in so many aspects that it would be hard to get such an experience from another place such as Keene State College, and so far it has definitely been an experience to say the least.

It has been a month that I have been here since arriving in the beginning of September.

Contributed Photos: KSC biology student, Billy Lake, is living in Costa Rica with a host family that has nineteen cats.

Contributed Photos: KSC biology student, Billy Lake, is living in Costa Rica with a host family that has nineteen cats.

I have made many new friends, managed to handle a month long, Monday through Friday eight a.m. intensive spanish course, and adapted to the culture and most importantly to me, the food.

I was worried I would not be able to alter my culinary preferences to that of the spanish type, but that thought process was most definitely inaccurate as I have come to love rice and beans as a daily meal.

The program through which I am studying in Costa Rica is ‘CIS Abroad’ and the normal semester is 12 weeks long. However, in addition, they offer a 16-week program allowing for students to take an extra four-week course in spanish before the 12-week semester begins.

I chose this option and am not disappointed but more or less happy for more students to arrive.

The university itself is a bit smaller in comparison to Keene State College of course and even now with just the local students and those of the sixteen-week program, it feels pretty full so I am interested to see it in its full capacity.

I am currently staying in a house with local people (‘Ticos” is what they are called here) and I live just a block away from the school so waking up at eight a.m. hasn’t been too hard considering I don’t have much of a trip ahead of me.

I love the family with which I am living, they are very open to natural American habits and customs and very loving as well, as are most of the people I have encountered on my journey so far.

Oh, how could I forget, I live with 19 cats.

Yeah, that’s right—19 cats. It is not a typo.

Fortunately for me as well as them, I love animals and feel blessed to be surrounded by them at all times, even though their bodily fluids come in contact with my belongings from time to time. I look at it as a sign of affection and have become very good friends with most all of them, give or take a few of the previously stray, skittish ones.

Contributed Photos: KSC biology student, Billy Lake, is pictured on stilts in San Jose.

Contributed Photos: KSC biology student, Billy Lake, is pictured on stilts in San Jose.

Last weekend, I made my way to Puerto Viejo in the Caribbean, and it truly is beautiful there.

I went with a few of my friends and we paid 10,000 colones (approximately 20 American dollars) for two nights to stay at a hostel named ‘La Ruka’, which is, in essence, a cheaper version of a hotel.

The people that ran the place truly were great and so outgoing and accepting but the best part is we could order drinks right to our room, as they had a bar right in the front lobby. The only downside is that while there, one always feels dirty because of the sweat-friendly climate.

Nonetheless, I absolutely enjoyed my experience swimming in the crystal blue waters and basking in the UV rays of Puerto Viejo, and I get to return when the students of CIS head back there for the included excursion at the end of October.

Contributed Photo

There are many programs that facilitate exchange students into Veritas University here in Costa Rica but October is the month where CIS program students embark on an excursion every weekend, and I could not be more excited for these upcoming trips.

They consist of a tour of a famous coffee house, climbing the Irazu and Arenal Volcanoes, splashing in the hot springs of Baldi and back to Puerto Viejo.

My departure date back to the U.S. is December 21, and I have already spent a month here. I only have just under three remaining, and there is so much more in store.

There are many things that I have yet to do and I intend on checking them off my mental list but while I do not want my time to end here in Costa Rica, I cannot wait to get back and see all of my friends and family and enjoy the second semester of my junior year at KSC.


Billy Lake can be contacted at

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