I was on my gap year when I decided to volunteer for GVI, a lot of my friends were going travelling together, but I knew I’d rather do something productive. I saved all my money together for half the year and was in Jalova, Costa Rica by mid February. Choosing Costa Rica was a quick decision for me as I have always wanted to travel around Central America and the tropical conditions are exciting to someone from a cold climate like England. I also found the country very intriguing due to its sheer diversity of wildlife species some of which I learned to identify whilst there. My first week involved a few training days including canal birds, forest wildlife and emergency first response training. However the staff still found the time for me to participate in lots of surveys for which I was very grateful for. It was a great way to put my new found skills to the test! The other volunteers were very welcoming as well as the staff. We all got along very well and the volunteers and I went away together on my second weekend to Monteverde. Even when we were away from base, we were practicing spotting animals, trying to see more of the wildlife available to us in different parts of Costa Rica. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Costa Rica, I definitely did not want to leave. The staff were encouraging, even when I was nervous about doing one of the longest surveys, they got me through it and I was so proud of myself for completing it. My experiences in Jalova have reaffirmed my life choices for university and beyond. I have made a whole new set of friends which I plan on keeping in touch with and potentially visiting over the years. The skills I've learnt during my time in Costa Rica I will use and treasure throughout my life, this will definitely not be the last time I volunteer for GVI!