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Student Studies, Conducts Research in Costa Rica




At Otterbein University, students are given the opportunity to explore and apply their knowledge through the Five Cardinal Experiences. Sophomore Matt Vieth, a zoo and conservation science major, has already added one Cardinal Experience to his experiential transcript – Global and Interculture Engagement.

During fall 2013, Matt took advantage of Otterbein’s vast study abroad program and spent a semester in Costa Rica.

“I chose Costa Rica because I wanted a cultural experience with the chance to work outside of the classroom with all of the wild plants and animals,” he said.

During his time in Costa Rica, Matt said he spent a couple of days in the country’s capital, San José; traveled along the Pacific side of the country and stayed on a beach in a national park in Corcovado for two weeks; stayed at a biological station in the Monteverde Cloud Forest for a month; took a two-week excursion along the Caribbean side of the country into Panama; and then headed back to Monteverde to spend a month living with a host family. Matt also extended his trip six days to travel to beaches in Montezuma and Manuel Antonio with fellow classmates.

“My most memorable moment happened in Corcovado. We took a boat to an island off the coast, and on the way, a Humpback whale and her calf surfaced. We sat there for 10 minutes and just watched the two whales surface,” Matt said. “I was also fortunate enough to see a turtle lay eggs on a beach, and then eggs from a different nest hatching. I was able to see newly hatched turtles run into the ocean.”

Matt said he also had the opportunity to zipline through the forest, bungee jump in Central America and spend a day snorkeling in Panama.

While in Costa Rica, Matt was enrolled in two ecology courses, a Spanish course and a course about humans in the tropics. He also had the opportunity to carry out his own research project studying how habit transformation effects the survival of tree frogs native to Monteverde.

“This experience has made me a better student and has made me want to travel more,” Matt said. “Through my program, I am going to find ways in which I can travel outside of Ohio to work with animals.”

Learn more about Otterbein’s study abroad programs.

Learn more about Otterbein’s zoo and conservation science major.