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Final post for all times

Time August 8th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Well, here we are. I’ve been home for a little under a month and to tell you the truth I have yet to suffer from any huge culture shock moments (lucky me). The only thing that I have really been able to do is focus I trying to work as much as possible so that I have enough money to afford my books for my rapidly approaching semester. I would be lying if I told you that Lima was not a big deal in my life. I really, truly believe that I learned a lot about myself and have also begun to reconsider what I want to do with my life. I really enjoyed my time in Lima and I want to devote more of my life helping the people who really need it, and I was able to learn this first hand in Peru. I really want to also take this time to thank a few of the people who helped me accomplish everything I wanted to accomplish. Firstly, my parents, without their help I never would have been able to experience this amazing opportunity and to finally attain my goal of going to Machu Picchu. Secondly, to the Resident staff that made me feel at home in a scary new place, Lali and Mama Laura, gracias por todo!  I had such an enjoyable time and met some really great people, who I hope to remain in contact with for a very long time.

To be completely honest, I don’t really think that the entire thing has truly sunk in yet. I’m expecting that within the next 2 weeks or so I will finally be hit with the culture shock and sadness of not being in Lima. Lima was unlike any place I’ve ever been in my life and it was a huge change from my small town life in New Hampshire. I hated the Combis, hustle and bustle and the honks of cars every few seconds. But now I find myself lying in bed at 3 AM and being unable to sleep because of the lack of angry, honking taxi drivers. The boredom of home is both a welcome relief and an unbearable burden. But I have work to keep me busy until my return to school in Vermont. Lastly before I finish this final post I want to take this time to thank IFSA-Butler for giving me this amazing chance to go to a place I have wanted to go to for almost my entire life. I can not stress enough how much this experience has helped me grow as an individual.

 

Thank you for reading this blog. Pachamama te bendiga!

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5 Days till take off

Time July 11th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Well, the time is officially here. Finals are over and I find myself steadily approaching my departure from Peru. It’s hard to believe that only 5 months ago I was stepping off a plane, having forgotten a lot of my Spanish and trying to figure out what I was going to do. The truth is that I have both loved Peru and hated it. My relationship with this experience has been a tumultuous one from being stressed about school work, to just not liking the people in the city. But all in all this has been an incredible experience for me. Now the thought of packing and going home scares me as much as when I first arrived here, which is a strange feeling. But I guess it is normal to fear leaving the things you have become accustomed to. All that’s left for me now is to walk around the city and pack. There’s not much else to say, all that is really left is to say that for all of the bad times and good times here, I will miss you Peru.

The next blog entry will, unfortunately, be the last and will take place after I have been home for a week or so. Please look forward to that.

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The beginning of Finals

Time June 26th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Well classes are coming to a close and we all know what that means….FINALS! I would be lying if I said I was ready but I also know for a fact that I can get through it all. In fact I’ve already finished one of them. I had my sociology presentation on Monday. It was a group project and I worked with two very nice Peruvian girls who were very fun to work with. Our presentation was on discrimination against transgendered people. The presentation went well other than some technical issues in the beginning of it but we managed to get everything working and the rest of went off without a hitch. Now that I’m done with it there’s a large pressure taken off my shoulders, especially since I’ve finished another paper for my Spanish class which leaves only one exam for my Ethnicity class, a group project for Spanish and my Peruvian Social Reality paper. All of which means I only need to study for one class!!!!! The rest is going to be nice a chill.

It’s crazy to think that 3 weeks from today I will be back in the US. It seems so far away and yet so close at the same time. I shall leave you with one of the jams I have come to appreciate in my time here.

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Chincha and Carmen

Time June 12th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This past weekend the gang and I went to the small town of Carmen in the department of Ica in order to learn a little about Afro-Peruvian culture as well as to have a weekend to chill out. We drove in a bus south for about 4 hours to the Carmen in the region of Chincha which has the largest population of Afro-Peruvians in all of Peru. It was weird going from an area like Lima which has very few Afro-descendants to Carmen which was predominantly Afro with very few Andean looking people. The entire visit was very chill, we stayed at what was once a huge hacienda, now converted to a hotel resort called Huaranjapo. Friday we arrived around 6 in the evening and we were able to just chill by the pool and eat dinner. The next day we went into town and learned how to play cajon, which is literally a box that you sit on and slap with your hands to make two different percussion sounds. It was really cool and the instructor was very patient with our group (we were incapable of keeping time). Afterwards we had a short lesson in tap dancing which was a much more difficult experience for me because I have five left feet and only 3 right feet. After the fun lessons we went back to the resort where some of us learned some more Afro dances and some of us swam in the pool or did homework. That night we had a bonfire and told each other stories, this was a really fun experience because our guide that went with us told us a scary story about La bruja, commonly known as witch but this story was different in that she is actually some sort of monster that scares you either to death or very nearly there. The next day we took a quick trip to a Huaca that had been abandoned by the Peruvian government due to lack of funding. It was sad to see such cool history destroyed simply because there wasn’t enough money to keep it running. After the Huaca visit we went back to the hotel, ate lunch and then we left for our return to Lima. All in all it was a very chill and interesting visit.

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Two weeks after Exams

Time May 24th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Well, I wish that I had more to tell you about what has been going on for the past two weeks since I completed Mid-Terms but not much has honestly happened besides a lot of movies being watched and a lot of readings being finished. I have made a few Peruvian friends finally in one of my classes, which means that I will steadily get more until I know every Peruvian ever. My oldest host brother is visiting from the US for the summer break and he’s a cool guy. We’re both the same age and both have a lot of the same interests which is really cool. In Lima it has officially become “winter” which just means that it’s grey almost all the time with a lot of fog. It’s kind of depressing to be here now, especially when I know that back home it’s about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Also many of my friends from back home are returning from Study abroad. The weather here really keeps you down and it’s now really easy to get a cold because of the colder air and the amount of moisture in it. I’ve already gotten a cold from just the minimal time it has been “winter”. I’m struggling to believe that it’s almost June already. I almost have a month left here, feels like it flew by. Still a lot of stuff to do also. I have a trip to a town called Carmen coming up, the town is one of the areas with the largest population of Afro-peruano culture so it should be really interesting. After that trip it’s pretty much a straight shot to finals. Which is crazy to think that I’m this close to having finals. Well for today I have my volunteering at CEDED and afterwards I will be calling home to speak to my mother and father. A nice and relaxing day after a long week of classes.

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Mid-terms Complete

Time May 10th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This week was devoted to the wonderful and relaxing time known as Mid-terms….or examenes parciales. By wonderful and relaxing I mean awful and stressful of course. Thankfully I have officially finished with them and can now reflect back on them for your enjoyment. First off, exams were difficult because the week before was the week that we all went to Cuzco so we missed an entire week of classes right before, which was difficult to make up (lots and lots of readings to do). But some how I did it and still had a social life or at least enough time to relax. Then of course exams week started this past Monday. I was lucky to not have an exam scheduled that day so I devoted it to study for my Peruvian Social Reality course and my sociology course. Tuesday was the exam for Peruvian Social Reality. It went by very smoothly. It’s always nice when your exam is just a couple short essays because there is no need to memorize specific facts, it’s great to know them but you can still write a good essay without them. So I finished up RSP and started studying for Sociology, the class that I am having the most difficulties with.

Wednesday I studied for the soc exam that I had at 4. Went into la PUCP and took the exam. Not sure how well I did. Some of the questions I knew 100% because they pertained to the things that I had studied because I had felt like I didn’t understand them but some of the other questions I was unsure of. Finally I had my exam yesterday for my class Etnicidad, Identidad y Nacion and it was really easy. All in all studying as much as I did really doesn’t feel worth it because the things that I struggled with I don’t feel like I did as great a job on and the things I didn’t study for I did fine with. And that is the end of examenes parciales. Now I have volunteering at CEDED today and then the rest of the weekend to do what ever I wish to do, like call my mom for mother’s day. Excited for a small little break to catch up with people back home. Until next time.

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Busy times

Time May 1st, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I have to start this blog post with an apology. I have not posted in awhile because my program is keeping me really busy. Not only have I been having classes but I have also had multiple trips to various sites around Lima and Peru. Which is what this post is about, those trips, of which there is much to talk about.

First off I would like to talk about the trip I took two Saturdays ago to one of the many ruins or Huacas that reside inside of Lima. The Huaca that I went to with my study abroad group is called Huaca Pucllana and it is smack dab in the middle of Lima just off of Avenida Arequipa. The site was once the residence of the ancient Limenos and was a very interesting ruin. The civilization was based around the worship of the sea and was also a matriarchal society. Many of the pots found at the site were able to be restored and depict waves or depictions of sharks, which were a food source used during festivals. The society was interesting because they sacrificed the noble women to the sea. We were shown around by the head archaeologist and it was truly an interesting experience to be in the middle of Lima and having ruins all around you. Standing on the pyramid of Huaca Pucllana and seeing the cityscape around you was a very surreal experience but was also very amazing. It was nice to see Lima making strides in preserving it’s history.

The next trip, and the reason I couldn’t write this past week, was my trip to Cuzco. We left last Wednesday and we didn’t return until yesterday. The whole experience was amazing and I will go into further detail…….now. First when we arrived in Cuzco we went to several of the surrounding ruins such as Saqsayhuaman, Q’enqo and Tambomachay. All of which were incredibly interesting and made you feel really small. Actually the whole time spent in Cuzco and the surrounding parts made you feel small. The mountains are so huge, it was difficult to not feel insignificant at times. During the second day in Cuzco we visited a community of Campesinos that have, with the help of a tourism company, started a self-sustaining farming community. We were welcomed into their homes with open arms and showed around their town, which they were very proud of. We hiked up a big hilltop with them and they spoke to us about how lucky the were that people like us were interested in their town and they spoke to us about the interconnectedness that we all have together. It was a really awesome experience.

That same day we traveled to an orphanage for girls that are in risky living situations, whether that be abusive homes or just incredibly poverty stricken. My group put on three short little songs for the girls those being; Barbara Ann (All three guys acapella), Can you feel the love tonight (Lion King) and Lean On Me. Afterwards the girls put on their own show for us and it was great. They danced to several songs and we got to listen to Barbie Girl in quechua. We then all had a big giant dance party and it was amazing. It was easily one of the most influential moments in my life to date and I really hope that I can find the time to go back again this year.

The next day we went to Ollantaytambo a ruin north of Cuzco which was a really interesting because of it’s backstory. It was originally created by an exhile from the Incan empire who wanted to study the stars. The ruin itself was built to resemble a giant Llama and it had a giant face of the creator chiseled into the mountain face. After our visit to Ollantaytambo we took the train to Aguas Calientes the small village just outside of Machu Picchu.

The next morning we went up to Machu Picchu and it was….indescribable. 

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NGOs and Caral

Time April 12th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This past week has flown by, first day of my first full week of classes, first time going to the NGOs that I am working with and first time visiting the 3rd oldest civilization in the world….no big deal. Not to mention I have now been in Lima for a full month, which is crazy to think about. I’ve finally begun to come to terms with the some of the aspects of Peruvian culture that I have struggled with for the past month or so. Not to say that I have overcome them but I am certainly more forgiving for being treated like an ideal. As a white person, who is also from the United States, I am treated like the epitome of what every Peruvian should strive to attain; wealth, white skin and above all else not look indigenous. These things come to ahead when I finally began my NGO work in the sub-section of Lima called Villa El Salvador.

 

Villa El Salvador, depending on the area, would be classified as a slum. In some areas are buildings made of brick/masonry and others where houses are little more than ramshackle huts made from corrugated plating. The group that I am working with called CEDED works in one of the lesser developed areas, meaning it is a full fledged slum. The program’s main focus is to bring homework support to the children in the area as well as to give the children a place to get away from their situation. The drive to Villa El Salvador is pretty difficult, because you start in Miraflores, one of the most affluent areas of Lima and slowly head out towards the lesser developed areas until finally you arrive in the heart of Villa El Salvador. The work however, is really great. The kids are amazing and they are always smiling to see us gringos there. I am helping a few of the kids with homework and also helping another group of students practice their English. All in all it is a very fulfilling experience and I am really excited to continue my work with the organization.

 

This Sunday I start my other NGO which is called La Casa de Panchita. It is an organization that helps the domestic workers around Lima to take classes in many different subjects. I am teaching guitar as well as English. I am really excited to start because I haven’t been able to play guitar in awhile, so I look forward to playing and teaching others how to play.

 

This past weekend we, meaning IFSA, went to Caral the third oldest civilization in the world. It was really interesting. It was a 3 hour bus ride out into the heart of the Peruvian desert. The drive itself was even interesting because in the first hour or so we drove a long the coast which meets with the desert and the mist created by the ocean was really cool. Eventually we go into the actual desert desert and that was also really interesting because there were random patches in the desert that were green and were being used as farmland. But for the most part very little the of the land was actually being used for anything.

When we finally got to Caral we had to walk about 1 Km in the sand which was much harder than I imagined it would be (I never had to walk in the sand unless I was at a beach). Once we were at the actual site our guide, the lead archaeologist of the dig, showed us around all of the pyramids and told us what the civilization was like. It was all very interesting and I was able to take some very cool photographs. All in all it was a very interesting weekend and I’m happy that I was able to go, even though I’ve had a cold since Friday and the desert air did not help me.

 

 

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Week Two and class selections

Time March 21st, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So I have now been in Lima f or two weeks. Orientation is over but it was amazingly fun while it lasted. The entire group here is great and they are all very fun to be around. Through orientation we learned strategies to keep ourselves safe in life as well as interesting slang that is only used here. We ate lots of cool Peruvian food and also explored the closest place to get a decent Burger and Pizza. We traveled all around Lima, from the Plaza de Armas to El barrio Chino. All of which was very fun and interesting. A couple of days ago I was able to go down to the beach for the first time since arriving and that was really fun, we all just chilled and listened to music while the sun shone and vendors came around selling Inka Kolas (Peru’s national soft drink, also utterly delicious) and Churros.

 

One of the things that has been difficult to get use to is the traffic here. As a resident of New Hampshire I view any sort of traffic as inherently evil. In Lima traffic is hell. Riding around in the small, cramped and always full combis while stuck in rush hour (which feels like it always is) is torture beyond belief. Not to mention that in Peru textbooks are incredibly expensive so Professors just photocopy the text. This means that as a student we have to go to the Fotocopiadoras and ask for them to copy the required reading. This wouldn’t be awful if Peruvians believed in lines. But alas they do not and it is typically a giant mass of students yelling there class codes to get the texts they need. It’s incredibly inefficient and it is easily one of my least favorite aspects of being in Peru.

 

There are some very interesting aspects to Peruvian culture that either does not exist in the United States or is slightly different. Something that I have struggled with is the amount of public displays of affection. It is not uncommon to walk down the street or ride a bus and see a couple sharing a passionate kiss. Another thing is that Peruvians tend to disregard personal space, obviously not out of rudeness but because it’s just not a cultural thing here. The “personal bubble” is a very United States invention and it’s sometimes off putting when speaking with locals who will stand very very close to you. I have only experienced this once or twice and each time it came from none Limenos. Another thing that I have struggled to get use to is the besito, also known as the kiss on the cheek, when greeting or leaving the company of a woman. It’s very strange and can make you uncomfortable but it’s something that’s done here and something that I will have to overcome.

 

Lima is classified as a desert so it never ever rains. However, it is the most humid place I’ve ever been to in my life. The Summers here are much the same as the one in New England with a high in the 80s or so. The place where it differs is the humidity. In New England the humidity fluctuates day to day and some days are better than others. In Lima, it is always humid. Typically your average day is about 90%-98% humidity. This makes living here an absolute killer. There are days when just getting up from bed has caused me to break out sweating. It also makes me much more tired by the end of the day. But the weather is always consistent which is something to be said. Lets face it, New England can’t exactly say the same.

 

My time in Lima has been short but I can honestly say that I enjoy being here. There’s something to be said about living in a place that truly feels alive. I use to hate cities but this may change my mind about them. So far my experience has been a rather positive one, there will always be some things that may upset us as people in a new culture but for the most part I can look past most, if not all of them. Some days are obviously harder than others. Some days you miss your friends and family, while sometimes you just simply miss your culture, you miss the consistency of the things you know. In another culture you are always wondering what to do next. But I am happy and that is what counts and I look forward to sharing more of my experiences in future posts.

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First week in Lima

Time March 11th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

It’s difficult to even begin to describe this past week. So much has happened that I sometimes whilst standing in the middle of a crowded side walk I stop and realize “Wow, I’m in Peru”. Most of it seems like a really vivid dream. It’s utterly amazing to see all of the things here. It’s one thing to see pictures of Miraflores and another thing entirely to finally be here and be walking the streets. We’ve done a lot of stuff in the time we’ve been here as well, from classes to walking around central Lima and visiting the Plaza de Armas. I really can’t be sure if I would want to change anything. All of the IFSA staff are really supportive and caring and the group I’m with is really great.It’s just so crazy to finally be here and be speaking Spanish everyday and being apart of the community. This is a really short update because I’m still trying to gather my thoughts. I will add photos to make it a tad bigger.

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Packing

Time March 4th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So I promised that I would share my insight into packing and since this is my last pre-departure post I figured this would be the time.

 

The important thing to consider when packing is the climate you’re going to, especially when that climate is on the other side of the equator. Taking that into account is very important, it could mean the difference between packing 4 pairs of pants when in reality it’s going to be Summer there. Another thing I found helpful is to set everything outside of your suitcase at first so that you have a rather rough visual of how much stuff you have.  I found it useful to start with about 10 days worth of clothes and then add or subtract as needed. I also suggest packing shoes with purpose. This meaning only pack shoes that 1. You know you will use and 2. serve a specific purpose (ie. Normal everyday shoes, sturdy shoes, etc.). This way you are cutting down on extraneous bulk in your luggage, which is important to take into account because you are more likely to have more stuff coming back then going there. So remember to keep as much space left. It’s also a good idea to try and pack anything in your checked luggage that might be searched on the top of your bag so that airline security doesn’t have to destroy your perfectly packed bag. Another good piece of advice is to listen to your study abroad program when they tell you what should go where, whether x item goes in y bag. That’s really all I can think of to help pack. It’s an odd experience packing up all of your clothes and knowing that the next time they are getting worn is in a different country.

The next post will be once I’ve arrived in Peru. I will also try to get some pictures to go along with it.

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Financing

Time February 11th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So I figured that for this pre-departure post I would write about financing for Study abroad. I will tell you this now before anything else. It is really confusing to determine how much you will need. Obviously your plane ticket will be a large portion of the trip entire. It’s good to create a goal by first attaining the amount of money for the airfare and then afterwards to begin thinking about your living expenses.

1.When planning your living expenses always start with food. Food is your number one priority because without food…well you know the gist. So find out what your food situations will be in your study abroad program. If all of your food is provided then bring a small amount for going out some nights and for snacks…lots and lots of snacks. If your program only finances some of your eating then bring more money for food. The way I see it is that you should never have more money in a category of financing than food. Food is important, if you want to buy a souvenir, not starving is a better souvenir. People at home will understand.

2.Transportation is another category that should rank fairly high on your priority list. If you live on the campus of your study abroad Uni. then lucky you, bring less money for getting around because you’re all set. If you live in a home stay figure out your transportation options: bus, taxis, bumming a ride, whatever. Also plan for possible trips (vacationy type things).

3.Finally the last thing that should play a priority is textbooks. Textbooks are expensive in America and that doesn’t change abroad. Be sure you have enough for textbooks. The great thing is that once you have your books you’re done, no need to purchase again.

4. This is the part where you take the rest of your money and use it to buy souvenirs or other non-essential things while abroad. Keep in mind I am using “non-essential” lightly. This includes things like toothpaste, deodorants, shampoos and clothes.

5. This is the last step. Keep track of your money. If you spend 13 on a shirt, find a place and write it down. Your parents will love to know what you’re spending your money on and it can be the difference between getting sent $200 when you need it.

 

I understand that thinking about money prior to studying abroad can really lessen the experience but as they always say “it’s best to be prepared”, so yeah do that preparation. Make sure you’re confident in your financial access prior to getting to the country. No one wants to get to Madeupcountryopolis and realize you don’t have enough money to buy proper shoes.

 

Next post will be about the exciting adventure of getting packed efficiently. See you next week maybe I’ll vlog it.

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The wait…

Time January 29th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

So I thought that maybe I would start off my first couple of blog posts in a pre-departure showcase to try to give people an idea of what study abroad is like.

 

By far the worst part of study abroad that I have experienced so far is the wait. The wait is not fun, exciting or even nerve racking. It is just plan lonely, pure and simple. It’s especially hard if like me you have a program that starts later than most of the others, because all of your friends and loved ones will either; 1. Be back at your University, doing their own stuff, taking classes and being otherwise busy, or 2. Already be abroad, experiencing their own country, and otherwise being busy. This is what is somewhat rough. The people you care about are not with you and they are also too busy to speak to you, which leaves you stuck at home, possibly working, but otherwise being pretty bored (there’s only so much stuff on the internet that you can find amusing). After a while you really just get the need to finally go abroad because otherwise you’ll remain bored out of your mind.

 

Now perhaps some, if not most of you reading this are saying that this isn’t how it was with you, and to that I celebrate how smoothly the wait for study abroad went for you. For me it has been pretty tedious. By now all of my friends are abroad or back at Uni. and either don’t have time because of classes and homework or time differences, etc., etc. So I rarely am able to do much other than work. This becomes a really horrible schedule. Wake up, go to work, finish work, go home, do something for a few hours, go to sleep. This is going to be my schedule for the next month, until I leave in March. As you can very well see, not super exciting.

 

I hope that this post won’t be received with thoughts of how negative my outlook is. I am purely trying to document my entire study abroad experience to the best of my abilities, and this all has to do with said experience. I know that many people who are preparing to leave either today or relatively soon are rushing around making sure everything is packed, nothing forgotten. But here I am sitting in my living room, typing this post before I have to leave for work and all I have to show for myself is a boarding pass for a flight that doesn’t leave for another month. My warning to other study abroad students is this.

Prepare something to do while you wait. Don’t depend on work to fill in the days because it drains you quicker and makes the wait bitter. If you can, visit your friends at Uni. before you leave. Find something to do that will improve your mood, like going to the gym or reading.

 

Well that is the first post of my blog. Kind of off to a dark start but as I said it’s part of the experience and I want to document it all. I will post again towards mid-February to continue and I will write about the preparations going into my trip. Until then I hope that everyone is having a wonderful semester abroad or at Uni. Until we meet again.

 

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