Tropical Ecology and Conservation - Organization for Tropical Studies

It is important to recognize that the OTS program differs from typical campus life in at least three very important ways.

First you will be a guest in Costa Rica, both will have to be sensitive and respectful of Costa Rican customs and culture. In general, Costa Ricans ("ticos" and "ticas") are warm, friendly and courteous. We invite you to interact with many Ticos, and we hope that you will develop some good friendships. It is important to remember that certain behaviors that are acceptable among peers in your OTS group may not be acceptable when it comes to non-participants. For example, Costa Ricans tend to be conservative in their attitudes toward nudity and sex. Therefore, nudity states that are acceptable and unavoidable in the field station dormitories are offensive in public. In addition, nudity on beaches, no matter how seemingly deserted, is inappropriate.

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Second, although you may have one or two roommates in college, Costa Rica will live in close collaboration with other 15 to 25 students and from two to five teachers or field assistants. This means that communication and respect will be crucial. We all need to be as open, honest and cooperative as possible.

We also have to have sincere respect for others, regardless of different opinions and lifestyles. This includes respect for privacy, respect for rules and regulations, and even respect for the fact that unpredictability is an inherent feature of field programs such as ours. In fact, along with communication and cooperation, flexibility and a good sense of humor are the most important characteristics of a successful student in our program.

Third, as an OTS student, you should not only be proactive in asking the questions (and finding the answers) that are important to you, you must also be willing to share your own knowledge and experience with the rest of the group.

  • Adam Floyd