Costa Rica

VIDA Pre-Vet Costa Rica 2017 – Haley Evans

At the beginning of the year, I had the amazing opportunity to travel abroad to Costa Rica where I helped assist local veterinarians with spaying/castrating dogs and cats. Going into this trip, I had no expectations. New country, new culture, new experiences. I would make the most of it. Being hands on with every patient, assisting with surgery, and monitoring the anesthesia was incredibly rewarding. It allowed all of us to get a taste of what life was like for a vet. Learning new skills, both technical and social, was the theme for this trip. Everything we did required effective communication. By the end of the tour, we were more in sync with how surgeries and consultations went. I can honestly say my decision to take the vet career path was the right one for me. This tour fueled the spark that keeps me moving forward, closer to my goal. There’s a common phrase that is said in Costa Rica: Pura Vida. It means pure life; I took this to heart. Live life in the moment and appreciate what you have while acknowledging what you do not. And work your butt off for what you want.


Haley Evans


Costa Rica

Hassna Khadour, Costa Rica, VIDA Pre-vet trip

I went to Costa Rica with 26 other University of Illinois students, and two supervisors! We had so much fun, we learned so much in the 6 clinic days we had. We all worked as a team, and helped build each other up, and made some strong friendships doing so. Most importantly, we went to get a look into our future as most of the students are animal science, pre-vet majors. We learned how to give dogs and cats full physical exams, give them pre-surgery medications, give them after surgery medications, how to give injections and so much more! I absolutely loved clinic days, and learned so much in my trip. Also, all the people of Costa Rica were so kind and inviting. I hope to be able to go to Costa Rica again, it was a beautiful country! This experience was so worth it, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to be a veterinarian.

Costa Rica, Uncategorized

VIDA Costa Rica Study Abroad

Costa Rica is such a beautiful country! I had so much fun with the students, supervisors, and especially the veterinarians there. Everyone was so welcoming and nice, it was amazing! During my week and a half stay, my team of 26 students spayed and neutered 106 cats/dogs, and had 56 consultations! We were always on our feet working and learning! It was an amazing experience, and I would love to do it again. I would highly recommend it to anyone considering going to veterinary school. My time in Costa Rica was so special, I made so many new friends, and had so much fun! My team worked so hard in the clinics, and after clinic days it was nice to relax and meet new people. I’m very grateful for this experience as it has made me even more passionate about becoming a veterinarian!


Costa Rica, VIDA

Pura Vida: ANSC 398 in Costa Rica Part 2

For the VIDA: Pre-Vet tour, we had 6 clinic days and 3 recreation days. I want to talk more about what we did on our recreation days for my 2nd blog post. Costa Rica is a beautiful country, and we visited at the perfect time of year. Our VIDA guide, Pablo, told us that Costa Rica really only has 2 seasons: A wet season and a dry season. We arrived in early January, which is right in between. Some days could get hot if we were standing in the sun for too long, but the breeze was always cool and in the shade the temperature was perfect.

Our first recreation day we went to La Playa Hermosa, which is one of Costa Rica’s most popular beaches. We arrived early in the day, around 10AM. We immediately found some guides that would take us out on a small boat to a good snorkeling area. The water was unbelievably clear, and it actually wasn’t cold. There were tons of fish, and some students even saw sea turtles. This was the day that every single person got sunburned! We all applied sunscreen, but most of us forgot about reapplying after a few hours. We didn’t leave the beach until 5PM!


La Playa Hermosa


Our second recreation day was spent horseback riding and tubing down a river. The horseback riding adventure was short but fun. Many of us hadn’t ever been on a horse, so it was definitely a learning experience. They gave us helmets just in case! We rode the horses down to a school bus that would take us to the start of the tubing area. The guides said it was a Level 2 whitewater river (I had no idea what that meant at the time) but it ended up being really fun. The water was cold, but the sun was out and we were all enjoying ourselves so much that we didn’t even notice. We all slept on the bus back to our hotel that day.


On the bus on the way to Liberia

Our third recreation day was spent at Santa Rosa National Park. We visited a very old estate that had been renovated to be a museum. We were able to learn about the history of Costa Rica, and they had some interesting artifacts on display. After we walked through the display areas, we walked up some outdoor stairs to a lookout point. The climb was long and sweaty, but the view was worth it! We all took turns posing and taking pictures. We even got to see some Capuchin monkeys up close. Our last recreation day was bittersweet because we went straight from the park to the airport hotel. I think we were all grateful for the experience, but we were also ready to go home.


The viewpoint at Santa Rosa National Park

I loved going on this study abroad trip. It was the perfect length of trip for me, and it went to a country that I would not have visited on my own. I would go on this trip again in a heartbeat if I had another year left in school.

Leanne Hahn

#ILLINOISabroad #ACESabroad


Costa Rica, Uncategorized, VIDA

Pura Vida: ANSC 398 in Costa Rica Part 1

I went to Costa Rica for 10 days during Winter Break ’15-’16 for the VIDA Pre-Vet program. For my first blog post about my amazing experience, I would like to share some of the things I learned while working at the pop-up clinics. From Day 1, the VIDA veterinarians trusted us with every tasks. They would show us how to do it the first time, then they would trust us to do it ourselves. We were able to place IV catheters, intubate animals (with supervision) and administer medications. The vets were very kind and helpful. They were always watching and ready to help if we needed it, and they didn’t mind if we asked tons of silly questions. They never made us feel bad for our mistakes, and they always gave us useful feedback. We would hold small meetings at the end of every clinic day to review what we learned that day, and to share helpful tips with other students on the trip. The vets even asked for constructive criticism on both their language and their attitudes.


A view of a school from our first clinic location in Hojancha.

We had 6 clinic days in total in which we helped 167 small animals and 107 large animals. The majority of the small animals were brought to clinics for spay/neuter. We were put into pairs and given a cat or dog, and we stayed with our animal from start to finish. We learned how to take vitals and do proper physical exams, then we were able to assist in surgery. One person acted as the surgeon’s assistant (Sterile gloves, mask, and cap!) and the other was the anesthetist to make sure the animal was stable. The vets let us do sutures and clamping, and they made sure we all saw at least one of each kind of surgery. It was an amazing experience, and every person I met was friendly and welcoming.


The hotel we stayed for our clinics in La Cruz.

I gained so much from this 10 day trip. I was able to fine-tune skills that I already knew, and I learned some new things along the way. There were many techniques that the vets taught us to do in Costa Rica that I wouldn’t be able to learn without special certification in the US. I also learned a lot about the culture and the people of Costa Rica. Our guide from VIDA was amazing, and he made sure to show us a good time. I would recommend this program to anybody who wants to travel someplace new while gaining experience in the veterinary field.

Leanne Hahn

#ILLINOISabroad #ACESabroad