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Lockdown in Paradise

The stars filled the darkness above me like no night sky I had ever seen before. I looked up as I waded out into the ankle-deep water that seemingly went on for miles in the low tide of the Caribbean Ocean.

The night brought me peace that I previously would have felt was unobtainable.

Just weeks earlier, I had arrived in Costa Rica for a study abroad program through Long Beach State. Before leaving, I went through a rough breakup, left a toxic friendship, I was involved in a car accident that totaled my car, and I left my job to go abroad.

I knew that studying abroad would be a metamorphic experience, but I had no way of knowing what to anticipate.

When I left for Costa Rica, I had a few things in mind: I would be going to school in paradise, I would have an internship, and I would be going to the beach every weekend.

Once I got there, the Caribbean felt like a dream. I met travelers from other countries at hostels, got to see sloths and other native species, and even hiked through rainforests to get to beaches and waterfalls. There was no cell phone service away from the hotels, so I was forced to disconnect from the rest of the world.

It was exciting getting to experience people from different places within my cultural experience. It felt like many of those living in the Caribbean lived for the simple things in life, like the star-filled sky and the warm ocean water.

A scenic hike with a lot of waterfalls is at the Monteverde Cloud Forrest Biological Preserve
A scenic hike with a lot of waterfalls is at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Preserve. Photo credit: Ashley Wilkes

Everything was going great, until we were told that the borders were closing and we had to leave our trip just a couple weeks into it.

Costa Rican locals began to look at us differently. Turns out the first case of COVID-19 in the country was traced to two Americans.

Many of us still had plans for places in the country that we wanted to visit. I still hadn’t seen Guanacaste Province, which has bioluminescent algae.

Reluctantly, we all hopped on a plane and came home just days after we were told we had to leave.

I returned home to a world that was closed down. I was unemployed because I had left my job to go abroad, and finding a job in a world where everything is closed was practically impossible.

For weeks I was reminiscing about Costa Rica and wondering what could have been. Eventually, I realized that it was a good time for me to do something that I had never done before. I started selling my clothes online.

As it turns out many people had shifted to online shopping since everything else was closed. This, coupled with the extra time on my hands, led my clothing resale business to take off.

If it wasn’t for Costa Rica and getting sent home early, I might never have found my true passion for entrepreneurship.

As Helen Keller once said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

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