Having studied the posters that go up in the Spanish Department every year, the Year 11 trip to Costa Rica was one that I had looked forward to for most of my 5 years at Putney.
An incredibly tropical destination for a school trip and indeed an experience that we found to be hugely eye opening and unique.
Our school, Intercultura, was perched on the palm-fringed 7km pristine beach of Samara. An idyllic location for a much needed escape.
Staying with host families allowed us a very personal glimpse into the day to day lives of the Ticos, a million miles away from our London lives. They made us feel welcome in their homes for the duration of our stay, and this gave us an unforgettable experience of their community life.
Our lessons at Intercultura exceeded all expectations and were genuinely enjoyed by all. On arrival we had to swear that we would not speak any English on campus, an oath that was taken apprehensively. Full immersion in the language which this encouraged forced us to plunge into the initially intimidating realms of our Spanish personas head first. However, by day 2 this felt shockingly natural and even off campus a new language of Spanglish was created. Many phrases were exchanged during conversation in Spanish almost automatically, and even those who wouldn’t consider themselves natural linguists rapidly developed a confidence to communicate outside of English.
As well as Spanish lessons, our days were packed with activities. A highlight was the zip-lining course through the forest, which included a mind-blowing run soaring over a 120 ft deep ravine to a platform where we stopped for fresh pineapple and watermelon looking over the treetops and miles out to sea.
We saw howler monkeys, surprisingly bold iguanas, geckos, a tarantula, and even a boa constrictor as well as many birds and an extensive variety of bugs! We tested our surfing skills (with mixed success) and took part in a somewhat strenuous kayak tour.
Seven days, 16 hours of Spanish lessons, 8 pick-up truck rides, 1 jellyfish sting, 15 coconuts and a fair few sloth impressions later, a significantly browner bunch of Putney girls found themselves embarking on the journey home.
Putney students say it every year but it really was a once in a lifetime trip. Rejuvenated we have all returned ready to crack on with GCSE revision and are especially encouraged to further our Spanish knowledge. I also hope to return to Costa Rica one day and find what more this truly magical country has to offer.
Lilian Nuthall, Year 11