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I’m on top of the world, hey!

January 30th, 2016 hmbutl17

It has been a little over one week since I arrived here at La Selva (a biological research station located 2 hours outside of San Jose) and the reality of me actually living in such a beautiful tropical environment has not quite set in. Any day now it feels like I’ll be plucked right out of the rainforest and sent back to snowy, frigid Worcester–but for now, I’m here and I am on top of the world. Yes, literally on top of the world. This week, I climbed a 40 m tower to view the rainforest canopy from above. Instead of sitting in a classroom at 8am, I was chillin’ with the monkeys in the trees. And the view I got at the top was 100% worth the chance of me slipping and falling to the forest floor week 1 of the semester. Promise.


Days here at La Selva are jam packed. From 630AM to 11PM I’m either learning, eating, running, playing soccer, or studying…the remaining time, of course, is reserved for sleep and desperately searching for wifi.

Here’s what a normal schedule looks like:

  • 630AM: wake up!!
  • 7AM: breakfast (mixed beans & rice, eggs, tropical fruit)
  • 8AM-12PM: SCHOOL (lectures focusing on tropical disease & biodiversity)
  • 12PM: lunch (separated rice & beans, meat, tropical fruit)
  • 1PM-4PM: LAB (field work, field trip, or guest lecturers)
  • 4PM: run in the rainforest/ play soccer
  • 6PM: family dinner (separated rice & beans, meat, tropical fruit)
  • 7PM: more SCHOOL! (Spanish activity or lecture)
  • 8PM: study & read scientific articles for the next day
  • 11PM: pass out from exhaustion


While these days may be long and tiresome, I am studying what I love and am constantly being exposed to new opportunities. I get to visit rural communities and participate in campaigns to prevent tropical disease. I casually spot exotic animals on the way to class (pictured below are a blue jean frog, capuchin monkey, & a peccary). I even get to dodge venomous snakes while running through the forest (I wish I could say this didn’t happen).

image  image  image


How do you like them pineapples?

So, you could say the ~pura vida~ life is treating me well. The people here are wonderful and the food is amazing…especially the fruit. Pineapple, papaya, mango, banana, watermelon, you name it! I shamelessly consume at least two servings of fruit with every meal. And this week was especially cool because we got to visit a small pineapple farm and take a tour of the Dole banana plantation.

image  image  image


Also (you may want to quote me on this), I will never get tired of rice & beans. We can check in at the end of the semester after I’ve consumed R&B for literally EVERY meal, but right now I am very content. The kitchen here at La Selva does a great job pairing them with different sides and things always get super interesting at breakfast when the R&B are mixed!! Pictured below is a typical breakfast featuring gallo pinto (mixed rice & beans) and of course some delicious fruit.



Well that’s all for now! Time to study for my first tropical disease exam (also the first real biology exam I’ve taken since May of last year)…Yikes. Wish me luck!


Pura vida,




This week I learned…

  1. imagethat the rule to wear rubber snake boots here at La Selva is VERY important. After
    meeting a quite dangerous Fer-de-Lance during my afternoon run, I plan to be much more aware.
  2. that getting ridiculously muddy during a game of student v. professor soccer is unavoidable…but totally worth it.



3 Responses to “I’m on top of the world, hey!”

  1. Tonya says:

    Enjoy reading what you write…be safe!

  2. Keep up the blogs, Haylie, great reads !!

  3. Bonnie Neumeier says:

    Hi Haylie

    Yes, watch out for those snakes. The fruit sounds refreshing. Glad you are learning alot and enjoying this experience. Love you.
    Aunt Bonnie

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Haylie Butler '17

  • Studies: Biology and Spanish double major with a premedical concentration
  • Hometown: Rossmorr, Calif.
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