Merrick Legutki, Staff Writer

All across the country of Costa Rica there is one very commonly used phrase, “Pura Vida.”

These two simple words symbolize the culture and lifestyle of the beautiful country that Florida Southern’s nursing and education majors visited over fall break.

Pura Vida translates to pure living, it is a phrase that is used for greetings and farewells and can be found on t-shirts, signs and road-side billboards everywhere you travel.

To the people of Costa Rica, these two words are much more important than some of the slang here in America. Costa Ricans live by Pura Vida, they are genuine, kind and are always looking to help you even when they can’t understand a single word of English.

This culture was most noticeable when visiting the schools around the country. One of the professors on the trip, Dr. Bernardo Blanco, is from Costa Rica and wanted to give back to his country on the junior journey, so he organized visits to schools all throughout Costa Rica.

His students got to sit in class rooms and do fun little lessons with the kids, such as, how to wash your hands properly or tips for healthy living.

“The best part of the trip was really immersing myself in the country and getting to befriend the people of Costa Rica,” said nursing major and junior, Jacob Scaff. “I really do think I have made some friends for life here.”

It was in these classrooms that Pura Vida shined the brightest. The children of Costa Rica were some of the happiest children you could meet in the world, which was amazing because they didn’t have a lot- they just enjoyed life.

In America, kids now have an iPad by the time they are five. They like to play Angry Birds and ignore everything else in the world, the birds flying through the air being much more important than people trying to teach them how to wash their hands.

In Costa Rica however, the kids acted like it was Christmas when Florida Southern students entered their rooms with smiles and friendship bracelets. The children were ecstatic when they were given pencils by the FSC students, reacting like they were just given an iPad from a stranger.

These children live by Pura Vida to the fullest, they were constantly happy about being able to be in school and truly appreciated all of the little things they are given in life.

Some of the most fun moments on the trip involved playing boys versus girls soccer, with the FSC students on the girl’s team, during recess. The children ran around screaming and smiling, appreciating a ball that was the secret to so much fun for them, but sometimes taken for granted here in the states.

Besides visiting the schools and impacting the lives of children, students from Florida Southern also got to attend several excursions for fun in the afternoons. They hiked up a waterfall where monkeys were howling at them in the background, they got to go on a two hour horseback ride with a ranch owner from Costa Rica that wanted to share his beautiful country with them.

They also visited a karaoke place where they sang American hits such as “Promiscuous Girl,” “Iris” and “Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing,” which had everyone in tears on account of such bad singing.

“I loved every part of the trip, from washing hands with the kids in the schools to climbing a giant waterfall and jumping in,” junior Chase Hoyt said. “Life is about perspective and this trip really showed how much we take for granted sometimes.”

The best part of this trip was seeing how much it meant to Dr. Blanco. He wanted to share the country he was from with everyone, and all of the students loved every second of the trip.

Blanco told me one night that he thought life was all about adding value to the lives of others. Through this trip we had affected so many children through the schools, the teachers, each other and even himself. He was so grateful for this opportunity to share some of Costa Rica with Florida Southern, and FSC students were so grateful for his attitude, lessons and the opportunity to be humbled when upon realization of how much we have that we take for granted.

Pura Vida my friends.