Italy, Urbania – Unforgettable

Its been 66 days since I’ve been back from Italy, and I still can’t believe I had the opportunity to experience this unforgettable memory. I spent two weeks in the lovely little town Urbania. When I say little, I mean it. Walking the whole town took no more than 30 minutes, can you believe that? Among the narrow cobblestone roads lived some of the most friendly faces and families. Not to mention, their family owned cafes and restaurants – bellissimo! After my morning classes, I would spend my days either wandering the many streets, sketching at the main square, or just hang out central cafe with my colleagues.

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Photographing the narrow streets of Urbania, Italy 

We went on so many wonderful excursions. It was hard to believe how much we were able to see in such a short amount of time. It was pretty impressive how organized this program was!

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Enjoying gelato in Gubbio, Italy 

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Our gondola ride in Venice, Italy

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Personally my favorite visit , Florence, Italy. 

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So much life in such a little town, Urbino, Italy

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Feeling like a total tourist in Rome, Italy  

Even though it’s been 66 days since returning, I’ve thought about this journey every single day. There are just countless stories and memories that I will never forget. My friends and family are probably sick of how I can’t stop talking about it!

Thank you GEO centennial for such an unforgettable opportunity.

Trip to Remember!!!!!

Trip of a lifetime to say the least! This past June I had the opportunity to travel to Prince Edward Island to participate in a GCELE and represent Centennial College, my second home.

The first day we spent at the Habitat for Humanity warehouse cutting lumber that was to be made into picnic benches for an upcoming fundraiser. It was rainy and cold but that never stopped us! We pushed through lifting, cutting, transporting, and organizing every single piece of wood. We encouraged each other and most of all we completed our task with no injuries, all 10 fingers in tact!

The second day we finally got to work on the house. It was amusing to see all of the ladies minus Pierre, wearing hard hats with tool belts. Most of us had never even picked up a hammer before. We divided ourselves into a few small groups and we worked effectively. At the end of the day it was an unbelievable feeling to see how much worked we had completed. We all had a sense of accomplishment knowing that our hard work would give a family a home that they would otherwise not be able to afford.

Later that night we had the pleasure of meeting Erica and her daughter, who are the future owners of the house we built. The moment we were introduced it gave me clarity. I knew then that no matter how many bumps and bruises I got, I would never quit.

Overall it was an experience I will never forget. Not only was I able to apply what I learned during my first year at Centennial College, I also was able to learn so much. Hats off to Pierre and Anjana, at all times they kept their composure and helped to keep the group focused and on task. Thank you Centennial College for the opportunity to travel to Prince Edward Island and help to make a difference in a deserving families life.Bonding over some grub!!!

P.E.I = Beautiful
P.E.I = Beautiful
After a hard days work;)
After a hard days work;)

I’m Afraid of Bugs, Dirt, and Germs (& I can’t swim). Was Caño Palma has Tough as I Thought it Would Be?

As part of our GCELE experience we have to blog about our experiences in Costa Rica. The posts have be short which makes sense, so I picked 3 very specific topics. If you have any questions about things I didn’t cover, feel free to reach out @AmeliaR_N. These blogs will also be reposted on my personal blog.

Before Cano Palma people who knew me would crinkle their faces and respond with “Why are you going?” or worse, they’d smirk and say “You’re going to die.” I’m not very big on the great outdoors.

When I got back most people would say “You survived!?! Was it as bad as you thought?”

Here’s the thing. It was amazing and I’m extremely proud of the work I did there. That being said it wasn’t like I showed up and was greeted by a 5 star or even 2 star resort. Conservation work is extremely hard and when you Google ‘how many Sea Turtles are left?” or some other question, the amount of work that went in to that answer you searched in 0.40 seconds is staggering.

fbpost^As soon as I got WiFi I wanted to tell the world what was happening.^

Here is a list of some of the tougher things we experienced on our trip ( a small look at all the work conservationist do):

  • Washroom Things
    There was no hot water –ever. To conserve water you flushed by pouring half a bottle of rain water into the toilet. The water on base tasted heavily like metal. I used very little water to shower or brush my teeth (which I did in the company of giant bugs).

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  • Bedroom Things

It was always hot in the rainforest and never dry. We had a fan we could use if Necessary. Since people worked all hours of the day and night, the rooms were almost always dark (so people could sleep whenever) and very quiet. We slept in bunk-beds which we had to cover with Mosquito nets. Those nets made it extra hot but it was either that or get eaten alive –your call.

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  • Workload Things

The shifts were varied and 24/7. Patrolling the beach to protect Sea Turtles, Hiking in the jungle to track animals and record data, working in the community, tagging trees, maintenance around the station. The chores were endless, usually very physical, and never ending. We were told that Centennial’s presence was a big help because it allowed overworked-scientists to catch up on rest and recover from illnesses.

workload^Wearing dark clothes with long sleeves for the hot Night patrol (can’t scare the turtles away!)^

  • The Nature Thing

It was always hot and always wet.  Clothes never dried. Shoes and feet were always damp. This meant you were always, damp, itchy and sore. Bugs might not be a problem for everyone but the bugs were huge. A bird flew in the room once which was cool until I realized it was actually just a big bug.walk^My regular walk from the dorms to the kitchen^

  • The Isolation Thing

WiFi was scarce and you were working nonstop but in the few off times you’d sometimes notice how out of touch you were with your ‘home-life’ and while it’s not always a bad thing, it can be lonely.us^IT HELPED THAT THESE GREAT PEOPLE WERE HERE.^

Stay tuned to read about my favourite part of the trip!

@AmeliaR_N

Facts about living in Costa Rica

Hello! Pura Vida to everyone. In this post I am going to sum up 6 things I have learned during my stay in Costa Rica so far. Hopefully this will be helpful for whoever plans to come to this beautiful green country after me.

  • Pura Vida. Pura Vida means literally everything. Whatever happens and whatever you do, you can always say Pura Vida. It translates to “pure life” and you can say it in place of good morning, hello, goodbye and many other things. This phrase represents the simple life we live in Costa Rica. Your bus is an hour off schedule? Pura Vida!
  • You are going to sweat like you have never sweat before in your entire life. The simple fact that you are alive means that you are going to sweat. It doesn’t matter what you are doing. You are going to sweat.
  • In Costa Rica you can find the most enormous insects you could ever imagine and the smallest of insects. You can find a moth the size of Michael Jordan’s hand or an ant as small as the tip of a pencil.
  • Mosquito Nets. Check your bed out before going to sleep. There might be a critter waiting for you to say goodnight- like a tarantula, or snake. This is why we have mosquito nets. Pura Vida!
  • Speaking of bugs, bug spray will be your best friend.
  • Rice and Beans. Gallo Pinto is the typical dish in Costa Rica which includes rice and beans. You will see it everywhere and eat it everywhere at any time- breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have eaten more rice and beans in these two months more than I have in my entire life.

To finish, I am going to show you some more pictures!

-Alberto Fabra, Project management

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Internship in Costa Rica – Villas Mastatal

Hello everyone!

My name is Alberto, I am a student of Project Management at Centennial College. I am doing my internship at Villas Mastatal in Costa Rica. Mastatal is a small village (about 80 people) in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle, midway between the capital (San Jose) and the Pacific Ocean.

Villas Mastatal is an eco-sustainable organic farm owned by a friendly and young family, Javier, Raquel and their little son Andres (just 4 years old!) I have been here since July 1st but I haven’t been able to post because the Internet connection here is quite bad. Although it is frustrating at times to be without wifi, it is very peaceful to feel completely disconnected in a small paradise.

Butterflies The place where we do yoga in the afternoons!

There are several volunteers at the farm who help the family to maintain it. When I got here we were sixteen, now we are like eight, it depends, as all of them are travelers coming in and out. I have met so many different and unique types of people from all over the world on the finca (farm). We are all very different but have similar characteristics. Villas Mastatal attracts similar people who are spontaneous, open-minded, and adventurous. We are like a family here and switch off helping with meals and cleaning. To help with meals we go out on the farm to collect the leaves for the salad and other fruits and vegetables.    Some of the work we do

They also do have several small-scale projects in the farm, such as:

  • Create a butterfly garden
  • Compost and eco-friendly toilets
  • Protect and fix trails at La Cangreja National Park
  • Design and construct a greenhouse for tomatoes
  • Other necessary stuff that needs to be done to maintain the farm, like digging, shoveling out, planting, etcetera.