Arlene Polar

Major: Wildlife Management

Home School: Purdue University

OTS Program: Tropical Biology in Costa Rica

Arlene Polar

Arlene is a Wildlife Management major at Purdue University, IN. In 2022, Arlene was looking for a summer course that could complement her career with field experience, so she decided that OTS’ Tropical Biology in Costa Rica summer course was a perfect fit! For 4 weeks, she and her classmates explored, observed, and even led her own research projects at some of the most unique and well-preserved ecosystems in Costa Rica.

After this once-in-a-lifetime experience, Arlene has become one of our prominent Alumni Ambassadors to encourage other students sharing similar passions for the environment, biodiversity, and conservation. Learn more about Arlene’s experience with OTS in Costa Rica!

“Being surrounded by people with the same drive for the environment and eagerness to learn sets the perfect tone for a memorable experience”

For a college program, I was required to participate in a study abroad experience, take summer classes, or find an internship. I chose to study abroad, and luckily that week I found the OTS flyer in a campus building. The Undergraduate Tropical Biology Program was the perfect fit for me because it was a short flight and only a 4-week term. Perfect for my first research experience. 

The most memorable memory of my trip is walking under a huge Ficus tree that was being used for housing by some Greater Sac-winged bats. Our professors pointed out the huge Ficus tree and each student took a turn with an eye-safe flashlight to see the bats. This was during one of our hikes through the forest surrounding the Estación Biológica La Selva. Being so close to wildlife and being able to observe it without disturbance is amazing. With this trip I got the chance to appreciate nature, perceiving even the smallest noises that the wilderness provided. 

100% do it. You will not regret it. Yes, any course will have the work cut out for you, but the experience is unmatchable. Also, the amount of networking, the student group dynamic, and the general knowledge you will receive are spectacular. Lastly, knowing that applying is your choice and that of the rest of the students makes the experience better and that we were all there because of a shared passion, literally made my heart skip a beat. Being surrounded by people with the same drive for the environment and eagerness to learn sets the perfect tone for a memorable experience. 

Helping Finca Cántaros with tree planting for a plot they are rehabilitating was amazing. Learning about the environment that surrounded us at that moment and being able to put our own grain of sand to help will never be topped by another memory. The bond created by knowing you were a part of such an amazing initiative is insurmountable. I feel connected to Costa Rica now with all my senses; educationally, emotionally, and even, spiritually. Working under the nice sun, feeling my hands on the earth, and seeing all my new friends equally happy with the experience was amazing. 

Ask our Alumni what they think of our Programs!

You can contact one of our Alumni Ambassadors directly to ask for their impressions and recommendations for the Programs we offer. Send a message to Arlene to learn more about her experience in our Tropical Biology Program.