Whether you are staying for a week, half a year (like I did) or an entire year, I think there is a few tips you should take into consideration before coming to Peru. For one, your experiences will be different from mine, but I doubt it’ll be super different.
Based on my experiences, I have a few tips/words of advice. I don’t know about you, but for me personally, the fact that I know I will leave eventually is a bit detrimental when making friends abroad. I don’t really make lasting connections. It’s not their fault, its mine, and even though I recognize it, it’s hard for me to be super engaging with others. My only friends that I hang out with are the kids from my program. There’s 11 of us total. We go to bars and clubs to go dancing and. We go out and eat together and just hang around. Though it’s great, I wish I had made Peruvian friends. I guess I blame it for leaving campus as soon as class is over to head to the bus so I can avoid traffic instead of hanging out around campus and getting involved in some of the activities. So advice #1: be more outgoing and meet people. Make new friends and get out more! If you don’t follow my advice and are like me, you’ll still be fine, don’t worry. I don’t want you to regret not making more connections with the limited time you have.
Advice #2: Travel and explore! The places I traveled to were amazing! I went to Iquitos and enjoyed the Amazon, and I also went to Cusco and visited Machu Picchu as well as el Carmen. The thing is though, those trips were all organized by our study abroad program. Now that there is little time left, I wish I could have gone on other trips on my own time with a group of friends. Oh well…
Advice #3: I recommend you get a gym membership or motivate yourself to workout. I lost a bit a weight, but I sometimes wonder how much weight I would have gained if I hadn’t done any sort of exercise. I eat a lot so that wouldn’t be such a pretty picture.
Advice #4: Talk. Talk to your host family and get to know them. I love my host parents! Even though they are in their 60s and work during the day, I get to spend some quality time with them when we get together for dinner. They make me laugh and they are good to talk to if you want know what is happening on the news. They are so intelligent and there’s so much to discuss with them.
Advice #4: Splurge a little on yourself. I had a day all to myself one day and it was a great time. I got to enjoy a movie and supper all by myself and it was a pleasant experience. I was able to reflect about life and I felt independent. It was nice being aware of myself.
Advice #5: Don’t be afraid. I mean I’m sure there will be scary moments that appear, but you should definitely not curl up into a ball and not do things because of it. Just because your surroundings don’t look familiar, that doesn’t mean there’s danger at every turn. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a lovely coffee spot or an eclectic little hole in the wall restaurant.
Advice #6: Get out of your comfort zone. You’ll learn a lot about yourself if you do so.
Advice #7: Seize the day! So what if you are sleepy at 12 in the afternoon? Go outside and do something instead of nap. (I’m a napper so not napping is a bit hard) Make the most of your day. Go for a walk, make a donut and coffee stop and just contemplate life.
Advice #8: Be productive! I can’t stress this one enough. Being in Peru, has been a bit of a cake walk compared to what I face at Holy Cross. Once I’m back on campus for the spring semester, I’m afraid that I’m going to get slapped on the face with a reality check. I have so much time on my hands and I mostly use it to watch Netflix, hit the gym, nap or waste my time away on social media. I started to read a book for “fun” because being unproductive was stressing me out haha. My motivation levels definitely lowered so, yes be productive! Or else you will struggle getting back to the swing of things when you go back home to your university/college (trust me).
Advice #9: Be happy! I always smile to myself on random occasions when I take in all the good in my life. Studying abroad is a big deal, and to be able to be in a different country and having the opportunity to enjoy it is a tremendous lifetime experience.
Advice #10: Cherish your time in Peru…or anywhere that you are. Enjoy yourself. All we have is the now, so we might as well take advantage of our waking time to live life.