Today we are spotlighting our TU faculty member, Dr. Sarah Haines. Below Dr. Haines shares a little about herself, her program in Costa Rica, and her overall perspective about study abroad:
“My name is Dr. Haines and I am a professor in the biology department at TU. I came to TU in the Fall of 2000. Before that, I was a middle school science teacher and a part-time instructor at several other colleges and universities. I was a double major in college- animal behavior and biology. In graduate school, I studied the feeding behavior of capuchin monkeys. Then I realized that I was really interested in teaching. I earned another master’s degree in education, which led me to my current position at TU. I teach biology courses to student who want to be teachers.
My study abroad course is BIOL382/582: Environmental Studies and Conservation in the Tropics. I chose Costa Rica as the location for this course due to the country’s focus on conservation, sustainability, and biodiversity. My alma mater, the University of Georgia, also had a field station in Costa Rica at the time that I was planning to run this course for the first time, and after speaking with the director I knew I had found the right place for my course!
The one thing about the course that excites me the most is the opportunity that the students enrolled in the course have to see and experience so much biodiversity and geographical diversity in such a small country. There is wildlife everywhere! The country also offers a lot of geographical variation, which leads to variation in species found in different areas, so that presents a wonderful opportunity to study different ecosystems.
If I could tell students one thing about studying abroad, it would be to try to push yourself to go out of your comfort zone. So many of my students have told me that they did just that, and it made the course experience very rewarding. Speak to people of another culture. Try foods you haven’t ever eaten before. Try to speak the language! All of these things will greatly enhance your experience.
If you are planning to visit Costa Rica, one term you should be familiar with is “Pura Vida” (pronounces poo-rah vee-dah). Simply translated, it means “simple life” or “pure life”, but in Costa Rica, it is more than just a saying—it is a way of life. Costa Ricans use this term to say hello, to say goodbye, to say everything’s great, to say everything’s cool. However, it is not
the words that reflect the true meaning of ¡Pura Vida!. Pura Vida is the way Costa Ricans live. Not surprisingly, Costa Rica has been named one of the happiest countries in the world, mostly because its inhabitants don’t stress about things the way most foreigners do. Costa Ricans have a very relaxed, simple way of looking at life. No worries, no fuss, no stress—pura vida to them means being thankful for what they have and not dwelling on the negative. Although many people use the saying ‘pura vida’, until you’ve been to Costa Rica, you will not truly know what pura vida feels like. It’s an emotion, it’s an attitude, it’s happiness, and it’s a way of life. Once you’ve visited, you will understand the true meaning of pura vida.”
Be sure to stay updated with more of our faculty spotlights! And don’t forget to check out Dr. Haines’ program in Costa Rica! #TUProud #HowBigIsYourWorld