Dominican Republic

Why I Chose the Dominican Republic

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Anja Goolsby is a student at Central Michigan University and is an ISA Photo Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Latin America, the rich culture and vibrant atmosphere seem to ignite a fire within me that makes me want to see and experience new things. My passion for Spanish language stems from the many trips I have taken throughout my life to the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico.

Flying through the sunset over the Caribbean Sea.

Flying through the sunset over the Caribbean Sea.

Although I had the choice to study in Spain or South America, I chose to study in the Dominican Republic because of its similar climate and geography to the Caribbean Coast of Mexico. Now one may think, “That’s not ‘Real Mexico,’ that’s probably just a resort,” but this was not the case 19 years ago when I first set foot on the hot white sands of what was then a small fishing village, Playa Del Carmen. Before it became a vacation mecca (that I still adore,) it was only a block or two of hotels, convenience stores and restaurants where Mexicans worked and vacationed, alongside adventurous Europeans and the odd American.

Even six years ago Playa Del Carmen's Beaches were practically deserted during Spring Break season!

Even six years ago Playa Del Carmen’s Beaches were practically deserted during Spring Break season!

I associate Spanish with the memories of how the balmy air blows through the streets, so humid it seems to touch you like a warm sheet billowing in the wind. How at night, the latin music can be heard whether you’re out dancing salsa until dawn or laying in your bed, listening to the distant sounds of fun and fiestas. The beat resonates in my chest, filling me with excitement and a thirst for adventure.

A view of Puerto Plata from atop Mount Isabel de Torres.

A view of Puerto Plata from atop Mount Isabel de Torres.

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t enticed by the fact that the Dominican has some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet! So far, I have visited Puerto Plata, Sosúa, Cabarete, and Boca Chica and have been absolutely in awe at each different beach. The water looks as if an artist has taken a paintbrush to the horizon and carefully blended each color of blue: aquamarine, turquoise, cyan, cerulean, deep blue, prussian blue, and finally indigo. It is also interesting to point out that the south of the island is on the Caribbean Sea and the north of the island is on the Atlantic. 

 Sosúa is a huge vacation destination for Dominicans, the water is calm, clear, and blue.

Sosúa is a huge vacation destination for Dominicans, the water is calm, clear, and blue.

Cabarete's beach is home to some of the best windsurfing and kite surfing in the world

Cabarete’s beach is home to some of the best windsurfing and kite surfing in the world

The only thing that could be more beautiful than the beaches here are the people. Because I have spent so much time in Latin America, I have grown to love the way of the emphasis on family, fun, and fiestas. I had heard that the people of the Dominican Republic were extremely friendly and welcoming, likely to strike up a conversation at a bus stop or return a smile at a street crossing. Although I loved Spain when I visited last summer, I found their reserved demeanor to be a bit of an obstacle when trying to practice my Spanish. Thus, I chose a country where the people had a reputation for being warm and friendly, all the better to make new friends and learn the language.

My friend Ani, playing with the pigeons at the square in Puerto Plata

My friend Ani, playing with the pigeons at the square in Puerto Plata

My roommate and I love our Host Grandma, whom we affectionately call "Mami."

My roommate and I love our Host Grandma, whom we affectionately call “Mami.”

Overall, my decision to study abroad in the Dominican Republic has been the best I’ve made yet! This beautiful country has done nothing less than exceed my expectations completely. What with it’s lively atmosphere, beautiful weather, gorgeous cities and beaches, as well as my wonderful host family who I’ve grown to love like my own, The Dominican Republic = Home.

The world awaits…discover it.

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