Allison Brishacek

International Experience Country:
Costa Rica
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

University of Pittsburgh | Greensburg

Heinz Programming Area:
International Experience Summary:

Allison Brishacek studied abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica for five weeks through International Studies Abroad. She took two classes, a Spanish class and a tropical marine biology class. Taking a Spanish class helped her feel more confident when conversing with her family at home, and the tropical marine biology class helped her obtain a hands-on experience of different topics related to marine life. Allison went on a tour of the Señor & Señora Ese wood factory with her Spanish class, which is famous for its conservation techniques. Through the biology class she participated in field trips to Cahuita for the exploration of a trail along the ocean, and Cuajiniquil to see a mangrove and go snorkeling. She gained knowledge of different marine habitats and inhabitants through various independent and group projects. Allison lived with a host family who was patient and greatly contributed to her learning about the culture and the language. She quickly developed a relationship with her host family and felt very safe in their home. Allison got to experience what it is like to live in a tropical area and was amazed at how open the housing developments were in Costa Rica. She got to interact with locals by doing everyday activities like stopping at the convenience store to get something for lunch. Allison enjoyed eating the different foods her host mother cooked for her and having conversations with her host mother at dinner. In her free time, Allison liked to watch her little host brother, Ale, play with his toys and would ask him questions to practice her spanish. On the first two weekends of her trip, she participated in excursions to different parts of Costa Rica to see some of the natural wonders that Costa Rica has to offer such as the Arenal volcano and the La Fortuna waterfall.

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

For her CEE, Allison’s first step was to decide what part of our community would benefit most and what they would benefit most from. She decided to work in a group and teach middle school about the everyday life styles of people in the countries. The next step was to find an After School Program to work with.They gave the kids passports and stamped them as if they were traveling. This made the kids very excited. Then Allison presented about Spain. Throughout the presentation they asked the kids different questions so they could be active and many of them answered. The kids also asked the group many questions throughout as well. At the end, they gave the kids mango smoothies, from Costa Rica, then a typical tapa from Spain, which was ham, cheese, and bread. They also gave the kids postcards so they could write down the things they learned that d