N.U.in Costa Rica, 2011
When Mitchell Gruber applied to Northeastern, he was immediately sold due to what he knew he could gain from experiential learning opportunities. “Northeastern was my first choice of schools that I had applied to because I knew it was going to give me opportunities to do experiential learning and get out into the world.” After being admitted into The N.U.in Program, Mitch was excited about starting his global journey even sooner and having the chance to see a new part of the world in his first semester of college.
Despite not knowing any Spanish and having never been to Latin America, Mitch chose to participate in N.U.in Costa Rica, an experience he knew would push the boundaries of his comfort zone and allow him to learn about a culture different from his own. “I see myself traveling to places like London and Greece in the future for business more often than I do Latin America. If anything I might have traveled there for a week for vacation, and so I wanted to do something that was different and that I would learn the most from.”
While in Costa Rica, Mitch volunteered at a school in San Jose, teaching Basic English to underprivileged children in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Being exposed to that level of poverty was an eye-opening experience for him, allowing Mitch to develop a better world view and greater understanding for other cultures. “The students I worked with did not have much, but were some of the happiest kids I had ever seen. It made my experience so much richer and taught me so much.”
Despite the difficulties of living in a new country and having to overcome the language barrier, Mitch credits the site director and support staff for helping to make the transition smooth and easy. “They really helped in the adjustment process and were always there when an issue arose.” When he first left for Costa Rica, Mitch’s family was skeptical, but after overcoming the initial challenges of adjusting to a new country, his family was in full support of the program and valued the positive changes they saw when he returned. “They could see how it made me a better person and better prepared for life. Take advantage of the opportunities this program provides. If you just think of this program as a stepping stone to get to Boston, you will miss out on so much. This program has so much to offer, so don’t let everything pass you by.”