Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

You are currently browsing the archives for the "Peru" category.

My advice to you

Time December 8th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Peru | No Comments by


Picture 1 of 3

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.


Peace out Peru…It’s been real nice experiencing you!

Time December 8th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Peru | No Comments by

img_8703 Picture taken at Machu Picchu

Bags are over packed (mostly from souvenirs) and I’m anxiously waiting to board the plane in a few hours to head back to the U.S. It’ll be 6 months since I’ve been home, and even though half a year has gone by, it definitely doesn’t feel that way. Crazy isn’t it? Read More »


Tick- tock…is it time yet?

Time November 30th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Peru | No Comments by

The countdown has begun! In less than a month, I will be back home, home to the peach state of good ol’ Georgia. I can’t believe time has flown as fast as it has. I’m so excited to be home. The other day as I was cleaning my room, I got inspired and I started to pack. I packed all the winter clothes that I had brought to Peru (there is really no need for them now that it is spring time here). I also packed some of the souvenirs that I have bought from when I went to Iquitos and Cusco. I have yet to be close to finishing with my souvenir shopping, but for now, I’ll pack everything that isn’t breakable into my massive pink and black suitcase. I’m hoping mom will take it back home when she comes to visit me for Thanksgiving break…

In preparation to my leave, I plan to exercise as much as I can because I’m going to be eating as much Peruvian food as I can, because truthfully I will miss it. Peru has a huge variety of fruits and potatoes. My host family is not much of vegetable eaters, so getting back to the U.S. will be good for that reason. The main reason though that I want to be home is that I miss people. Peru is a very (VERY) affectionate country. You are greeted with a hug and a cheek kiss, but it doesn’t fully make me not want to be hugged and kissed by my family and friends. *cough, cough, and boyfriend.

I’m anxiously awaiting the day I go home. It’ll be a good change of things. I’ve gotten used to having my breakfast waiting for me in the mornings, and I need to do my bed more than I should. I also need to eat better. Having a sweet tooth is not good when you are staying in Peru for 6 months. There’s delicious mouthwatering sweets at every corner. Peru is too good for my own good. Haha. I just hope time flies and that final exams are not too stressful! Smooth sailing is the plan. Let’s hope it happens that way. Until then, I’ll keep enjoying Peru.


Enjoying el Carmen and its Afro Peruvian culture

Time November 30th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Peru | No Comments by

14606504_1192663597483870_4696597891845674059_n At el Carmen after our dance lesson

This week, my study abroad program went on a trip to el Carmen. We went to visit an Afro Peruvian community, and it was a lovely time filled with good food, fantastic music and plenty of hip moving, and lots of pool time. (Yes, in Peru, there’s every color of the rainbow kind of people). Peru is a country that is racially divided which is rooted by its colonization history.

But anyhow, to start our weekend trip, we hopped on a private bus to start our 3-4 hour bus ride. I had my neck pillow, my phone on full charge, bottled water, and a book to accompany me during the hours ahead. Most of the ride I read, but once I started to get sleepy, I closed my book and I snoozed off into a deep sleep…only to be later awaken by a lot of shaking. We were driving on an uneven dirt road which was peppered with holes and rocks. It was a very bumpy road up until we got to our lodging place. It was an hacienda, and we were the only ones to occupy it that weekend. I had 2 roommates and I couldn’t wait to start enjoying el Carmen.

We ate interestingly seasoned chicken with rice and beans for dinner, and then later some of the group got together in the media room and watched “Inside out”. It was my first time watching the cute kid movie, and I enjoyed it. I shed a tear or two (I’m such a crybaby). Afterwards I went to sleep and I woke up revitalized the next morning from my awesome sleep.

So Saturday, after breakfast of bread and coffee, we had a talk with Carlos, he is basically a pioneer of the Afro Peruvian community. He works very hard to educate people about the Afro Peruvians, and he also advocates for better rights. We learned quite a lot about the history, the struggles, and the advances of the Afro Peruvians. It was very enlightening and it made me think how racism is a negative phenomenon and how racism is manifested differently depending where you are in the world. In Peru for example, some people think that racism does not exist. In Peru, being politically correct doesn’t exist. Racism is conveyed in jokes, in the media, and in daily language. It doesn’t seem as severe, but I beg to differ.

The next activity was a music and dance lesson with two siblings of the renowned Ballumbrosio family. The Ballumbrosios are the equivalent to the Marleys. We were in front of famous Afro Peruvian people essentially. I highly enjoyed learning how to play the “cajon” (a wooden box with a hole in the middle of one side), the “cijada de burro” (it’s literally the bone of a donkey’s jaw), and the “cajita peruana” (musical instrument reinvented from the Catholic collection box). The instruments were unconventional, but nonetheless, they were so great to listen to.

It was so much fun and I couldn’t stop laughing when we started the dance lesson. Talk about being coordinated and having rhythm. After a while I got the swing of things and I was able to enjoy it more. By the end of the hour dance lesson, I was covered in sweat and hot. I wanted to jump in the pool, but we then had dinner. All in all the weekend was pleasant and I enjoyed it. I was able to learn and experience part of the Peruvian culture that I hadn’t seen before. Usually when one thinks of Peru, I bet it’s all about the llamas, Machu Picchu, and the Andes, but as I have seen and learned, Peru is super diverse, in its land and in its people. It’s such a great country to visit that’s for sure.

Side note: wear mosquito repellent at all times possible and sunscreen. While we had free time, I laid out near the pool to get some tanning done and I also played volleyball for a brief moment. Playing volleyball was brief because we realized we were being attacked by baby mosquitoes (they looked like gnats). By the end of our weekend trip, my legs were covered with red mosquito bites. I scratched like crazy, and that was not the wisest of things to do. Another unwise thing that I didn’t do was to put on sunscreen. I was burned and in pain. Several days later I was peeling like crazy. I’m still peeling (2 weeks later). Lesson learned.


Appreciating My Peruvian House Friend

Time October 25th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Peru | 1 Comment by

Being in Peru for a little bit over 4 months, I have been able to meet several people, gone to many different places, and tried many different dishes. Today I won’t talk about adventuring in Lima, but I’ll focus my blog on a person. A Peruvian individual who I’ve gotten to know over these months has inspired me to write this blog. This blog is in appreciation for all she does and all she doesn’t know she does for me and my host parents. This person is a 27 year old Peruvian woman (girl, like me, in my eyes) who is from the Andean part of the country. She is humble and pleasant to be around. For confidential reasons I will call her by a made up name.

I met Linda the first day I moved in with my host parents. It was a cultural slap in the face since day one. I noticed she acknowledged me as “miss” and averted her eyes most of the time. She’d serve me breakfast and dinner at the appropriate times. I remember how awkward and confused I was. Why was a young girl my age doing things I could very well do for my own? (note-although I’m legally an adult/ grown woman, I feel like a child and I refer myself as a girl, because “woman” still is a bit alien to me. I guess you can say that I have yet to accept the full responsibility of what “grown woman” entails. I still have a lot of growing up to do. haha)

Anyway, Linda was not much of the conversationalist, but I persisted. I tried my best to make her feel like we were not as different as she must have thought of me to be. She probably thought “oh another snooty exchange student”. She definitely stayed her distance the first few days of my arrival.

I encouraged her to sit with me at the dinner table and talk to me. Without fail dinner is always ready and I’m supposed to eat at 7:30 every night. So instead of eating alone because both my host parents, a veterinarian and a boutique owner, are working, I tried to start a conversation. Little by little, day by day, we got to know each other. Linda is a domestic worker/ live-in maid who spends the night and works for my host family during the week. She goes home during the weekends only. It is quite customary in Peru to have domestic workers. It also gives you a social status.

I was pretty shocked. Never in my life did I have someone other than mi mama/mom cook for me and clean after me. Nonetheless, Linda doesn’t just cook me homemade Peruvian food, and has my breakfast of fruit ready at 8:30 every morning. She calls the laundromat whenever I need to get my clothes washed every 2-3 weeks and makes sure I have it delivered to the house. She sweeps my room and throws my trash away. Also, sometimes when I forget to do my bed due to laziness or because I am in a rush to get out of the house to hop on a bus to go to the university, I come home after school with my bed nicely done with my stuffed, polka-dotted, blue dog perched on top of my pillows. She also walks up the stairs with a tray of food whenever my body decides to get sick. During those times she has gone to the pharmacy to buy medicine as well.

So, basically Linda is my hero. Plenty of girls/women like Linda exist in Peru. They are the domestic workers who clean, cook, take care of children and the elderly, and, I’m sure, do other various tasks. Are they appreciated as they should, probably not? They are easily taken as invisible.

For my study abroad, there is a volunteering component, and I happen to volunteer at a place called La Casa de Panchita (Panchita’s House). It is a safe haven for young girls (8-13 year old) and older women who are domestic workers or at risk of being domestic workers. It’s an employment agency that allows women to develop and grow in the atmosphere in which they are in. They are made aware of their rights as a domestic worker and are given the tools to better themselves in their work environment.

My volunteering mostly involves playing with the young girls and engaging in activities to make them aware of their situation. It surprises me how many girls are aware of their rights and risks of being a domestic worker. It saddened me the first time I volunteered to see how these girls had to grow and mature at a faster rate than other kids just because of their economic situation. My feelings have changed since the first day. I believe La Casa de Panchita is empowering these young girls and older women. In a country filled with racism pointed towards the mainly indigenous, and sexism and machismo that affects many of the Latin American countries, women are more likely to become victims of discrimination and whatever other baggage an indigenous female that may or may not know Spanish have put against her.

So now Linda, calls me by my name and sometimes by “Ana”. Every night at 7:30, whenever my host parents can’t join me for dinner, Linda turns the television on and sits with me as I talk about all the craziness of my life. I don’t really consider her a mere domestic worker. She has become a friend of mine. She may be 6 years older than I, and from a different background than I, but we are in the same wavelength when we talk about girly things or anything that involves life. We have shared many laughs and on her part plenty of gasps and giggles before saying “Oh Analhi”. I’ve braded her hair, and we’ve gone to the pharmacy together. We have our mini gossip sessions or just talk about life. I like her a lot because she thinks I’m funny. Anyone who thinks I’m funny is a friend of mine. I definitely don’t think I’m funny even when I’m trying to be.

So here is to you Linda and all who spend countless hours at a home that you cannot call yours, for being away from who you love while you care and tend for others who may or may not value you. You are appreciated! I wish more bridges would form instead of having people distance each other because of their race, economic status, or gender. As the golden rule states “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Luke 6:31, I do believe)


Peru is more than Machu Picchu

Time October 19th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Peru | No Comments by


Picture 1 of 15

Read More »


Being Peru Ready

Time October 10th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Peru | No Comments by

Today’s blog is about what essentials to bring and how to prepare for Peru if you happen to decide in studying abroad or just visiting. I arrived June 14 in Lima, Peru, and it was winter. Going to Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, has helped me experience what an actual winter looks and feels like. Massachusetts and Lima are quite different. For one, winter is not that bad. It’s not freezing out and you don’t look like an Eskimo walking around with a long puffy coat with the fur on the hood. The weather is usually in the 50-60 degrees here in Peru. It’s quite humid so I rarely use a straightener. I’ve rocked the messy bun since day one. Disclaimer, Peru has an incredible biodiversity. It has the Amazon, the coast which is desert-like, and mountains. The weather and climate will be different depending on where you go. When I went to the Amazon. I was wearing shorts and t- shirts. It gets pretty hot there. I couldn’t stop sweating, but I had a great time in Iquitos, Peru.

In Cusco, it got much colder than in Lima. I had to layer up. At night it got cold enough for me to wear 2 jackets at the same time. I advise for lots of mosquito repellent if you plan to go to the Amazon and Machu Picchu in Cusco. Even though I layered on the repellent at both places, I was bitten by mosquitoes. It was not fun.

After you pack the repellent, and a decent amount of weather appropriate clothes for your stay in Peru, make sure you also pack your favorite snacks (especially if you are staying for an extended period of time). In my case, after being here three months, I could kill for some Hot Cheetos and Takis as well as any kind of sour candy such as Sour Patch Kids or Sour Punch Straws. In Peru there is no chips nor candy of that sort, and candy is pretty expensive, more so than the U. S. I advise to load up on your favorite U.S. snacks so you can avoid cravings and feeling sad when you can’t do anything about it when you realize you can’t find what you want in any Peruvian store. You also have to be able to adjust to your needs. In Peru, the milk does not come in plastic containers which are kept refrigerated. Milk is boxed and stocked in shelves at the super market. Once you open it, you must refrigerate it. I think Peruvian milk is sweeter compared to the U.S. milk. Also, Peru does not have any pre-packaged ready to bake anything. Craving a warm out of the oven cinnamon-roll, croissant, or biscuit from a conveniently packaged tube container? Too bad, you must go find some already made at a store or local Starbucks (yes there’s plenty of Starbucks in Peru as well as Dunkin Donuts). If you are a coffee lover, you won’t have a hard time finding some great coffee, so don’t worry.

Mhmm what else? You must also be prepared for the traffic. Traffic in Lima is by far the worst traffic I’ve ever experienced. My commute to the university could be from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on when I’m out and about. Later in the day the traffic is a nightmare. Cars are honking and taxis are everywhere. You definitely must be careful when you are a pedestrian. Sometimes there is zero regard for pedestrians who are trying to cross the street. It’s pretty scary. But I’m alive aren’t I?

So now, the last thing that I advise for anyone to bring to Peru is money (lots of it). You may become sick and need to go to the doctor (that has happened to me). Healthcare is relatively cheaper here than the U.S., but you still need money to pay. If you love taking vitamins, I suggest you buy them in the U.S. vitamins are expensive here. That also goes for anything health/ nutrition related such as protein shakes and dietary pills, as well as feminine and hygiene products.

The biggest money spender has to be the food. Plan on spending most of it on food. You shouldn’t be surprised by it, because the food is absolutely incredible. There is so much to eat and it’s also so diverse. Peru has 3,000 different types of potatoes so you could imagine the many different types of dishes that may contain them. My favorite dish by far has to be the Peruvian ceviche. I’m not much of a seafood person, but I absolutely love the ceviche. It has chunks of fish which are “cooked” in leche de tigre (tiger milk). It’s a delicious blend of lemon and other things that I don’t really know, but it ends up looking like a citrus milky substance. It’s so delicious. The ceviche comes with red onion, choclo (Peruvian corn), and a piece of yucca on the side. It’s so good I even think it’s better than my Mexican shrimp ceviche, and that saying something. Peruvian food is so good it’ll knock your socks off, so do plan on enjoying the many diverse dishes and sweets Peruvian cuisine has to offer.

I’m pretty sure if you decide on studying abroad or visiting Peru, you won’t be disappointed. I’ve had a great experience so far, that I’m highly thinking of coming back sometime when I’m several years older. It’s definitely worth it.


Where has the Time Gone?

Time October 10th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Peru | No Comments by


at-the-huaca-pucllana At the Huaca Pucllana swimming-in-the-amazon Swimming in the Amazon serenazgo-and-friends-andy-and-nadine Friendly Serenazgo with Andy and Nadine caral-ruin-cont Caral ruin

Today September 14 signals three months since I arrived in Lima, Peru. What have I done during these three months? I have managed to visit the Amazon and swim in it. I have gotten sick three times. I have been able to visit several ruin sites of 2 different, ancient civilizations. I have petted llamas, eaten countless amounts of churros, and managed to be safe while riding back and forth to the university on a combi. I have successfully enrolled in my classes. I have experienced the friendliness of the Peruvian people such as the day I got on the wrong combi to school. I was left stranded on an unfamiliar street. I walked until I saw a lady at a small store and she kindly told me where to go. Once at the bus stop, I met this Peruvian student who happened to be going to the same university. He was aware that I wasn’t from Peru. We talked until we were at our stop. He got off before me and paid for my bus fare. It was the nicest thing. I haven’t seen him since that day.

Another thing I have managed to do is to befriend a serenazgo. Like I have mentioned before on a previous blog, serenazgos are men and women who guard/watch the street for safety measures. Every day when I go to the gym, I pass the same serenazgo. He has a round thoughtful tan face and a sincere smile. I always say “hello” or smile after he nods at me and says “buenos días señorita” as I keep on my way. One day we chatted and I told him how thanks to the serenazgos I feel safe. He assured me I shouldn’t worry. Now every night I leave the gym to go home, I feel better about my surroundings.

Time has flown by and it has been such a wonderful time. It has been a great three months so far and I can’t wait to see what is to come within my last 3 months in Peru.



Starting on the Right Foot at a New School

Time September 12th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Peru | No Comments by

I have started my fall semester in Peru, and it has been quite different. It was an experience to enroll alright. At Holy Cross, enrollment is like this: I wake up at 6:30 am and sit at my desk and wait for 7 am to roll in while my heart starts beating a mile a minute as it gets closer to enrollment. I enroll, and I fall back asleep until my usual 10 or 11 am class. It’s a virtual academic hunger game for enrollment between my graduating class, and this I have realized is a breeze compared to what I had to do for enrollment in Peru. First week of school is “shopping week” for the international students. The local Peruvian students start their first official classes while the international students get to attend the classes they are interested in and observe the professors, no strings attached. On my courses I had all anthropology courses, and I only went to shop for two classes. I was kind of risking my chances because I didn’t really have a backup plan. Have I mentioned how most of the classes get together once a week for three hours straight? Others however get together two times a week for two hours each. So that was also a bit different for me. It’ll definitely be something I’ll have to get used to.

The week goes by and it’s the weekend. I was pretty determined to get my urban anthropology and relations of gender classes. Those would be useful for my major. However, Sunday rolls around and I change my mind completely. I decide on taking a sociology and an art course. Why? I realized that this semester I don’t exactly want to kill myself with homework and stress. I already have to ride on a combi/ bus twice a day each trip being at least an hour long (on a good day). My course selection in the end was focused on taking art. With this decision I was actually very limited. I strategized and found an art class that did not interfere with my already mandatory classes, and I chose a sociology class that could go into my major. I get a core requirement and a major requirement out of the way with less stress than taking two anthropology courses that required a hefty amount of reading. I felt pretty excited for the fall semester. I hoped I would get those classes. I also prayed, just in case. Read More »


I had a SAAD time in Peru

Time September 12th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Peru | No Comments by

milanesa-con-pasta   no-more-milanesa-con-pasta   churro-counter   churros-con-chocolate   hungry-me Read More »


Feeling Sick but Not Discouraged

Time September 12th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Peru | No Comments by

fall-program-standing-in-front-of-a-water-fountain The fall program (11 of us) I’m on the far left

It is Tuesday August 16th, and I’m writing because I feel inspired and sick. This weekend my body decided to attack me and I became very sick. It has been the second time in two months that I’ve gotten sick here in Peru. Was it something I ate? Probably. Could it be that I have something unpleasant living in my stomach? I really hope not, but maybe. Am I hitting the gym too hard, and I’m wearing myself out? I doubt it. Maybe it was due to the fact that I got my feet wet Thursday playing in the water fountains when we took a city tour of Lima that cold misty night. I was walking around with wet feet for 3 hours that day, so I do think that that has made me sick. Do I regret it? No. I had so much fun that night. Adrenaline pumped as I tried to go through the fountain. One wrong move and you could get sprayed. It happened to me once. I should have listened to my study abroad director when she advised whoever wanted to play in the fountain to bring a set of clothes. I should have brought an extra pair of pants and shoes. Oh well, lesson learned. Read More »


Changing Times: The End of a Visa and the Rise of Another

Time August 26th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, Peru | No Comments by

I remember sitting in Starbucks that April day. As the noise of the coffee shop surrounded me, I was sitting there—stressed, annoyed, frustrated, and hurt. Thankfully, my friend was there listening to me, consoling me through a difficult school year with difficult friends. And thankfully, someone else was listening to that conversation. Someone else who spoke up and invited me to church.


That was the beginning of how I came to attend a certain church my latter years of high school. A church that not only helped grow and strengthen my faith, but a church that led me to Peru on a mission trip.

It was through that church that I met the man who would later become my husband. It was through that church that I met Peru.  Read More »


Returning to Cusco and Dealing with the Police

Time August 22nd, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, Peru | No Comments by

Read More »


Seeing Peru through Tourist’s Eyes

Time August 22nd, 2016 in College Study Abroad, Peru | No Comments by

Shortly after classes ended in the beginning of July, my parents flew down to Lima to visit me and my husband for two weeks. Prior to their arrival in this great city, we frantically rushed around town trying to get everything in order—food and snacks, domestic flights, hotel reservations, activities, and more. But while we were organizing everything so that my parents could have a smooth vacation, we could no longer see Lima as our home; rather, we had to see the city through the eyes of a tourist. This change in perception, although small, drastically changed our view of the city so that we could appreciate it to its fullest. Read More »


A Craving for Sweets and Experiences

Time August 8th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Peru | No Comments by

Today’s blog is about how I discovered my self-awareness of independence as a 20 year old college student while studying abroad in Peru. This discovery was all thanks to my tremendous sweet tooth.

Its 9:23 p.m. and I am craving a donut. Luckily, there is a Dunkin’ Donuts stand less than 5 minutes away from my house. Even though my host family’s house is near a busy street with loud noises from the constant traffic, living here has some perks. There is a super market with a Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonalds stand, two pizza places, a gas station, a cute, always crowded bakery, a pharmacy (which I’ve already had to visit twice), and a Scotia Bank (thank God). I basically have everything I could possible need a few blocks away. Read More »


Jumping Through the Window: The First Time I’ve Felt Unsafe Here in Peru

Time August 3rd, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, Peru | 1 Comment by

I just bought our tickets yesterday to return home to the States with my husband. We will be leaving on Friday, July 29th. It’s all a little surreal—even though classes ended a few weeks ago, and my parents already came and visited us, it’s hard to believe that we’re already leaving.

But as I reflect back on my time in Peru, I can remember only one instance of ever feeling truly unsafe.

If you have been reading my posts from the beginning, you will remember that I had mentioned how, upon telling others that I would be studying abroad in Peru, they would scowl and say, “Be safe.”

There is a perception in the United States and much of the Western World that Latin America is inherently unsafe, as it is a haven for drug lords, coups, and civil unrest. However, I found this notion to be largely untrue. While Latinos live a very different lifestyle, their culture is not unsafe. Living among them requires the same amount of common sense necessary to surviving in any other culture.

Even in the poorer neighborhoods of Lima, I never quite felt unsafe. I did take extra precautions surrounding my personal items, but I never felt as though I was in any sort of real danger.

So imagine my surprise at my husband’s worry when I tell my him that the program’s goodbye dinner is in the tourist neighborhood of Barranco.


img_2610 The main square in Barranco


“What are they thinking, taking you there? That is a very dangerous area. I don’t think you should go, especially considering it doesn’t even start until late at night.”

I was initially shocked by his comments until I looked at the location of the restaurant. It was quite far from the main tourist area. Barranco is normally safe, but if you venture too far from the main square, especially at night, things can get sketchy. Even though I would probably not be bothered, common sense tells me to avoid that area at night.

But since I wanted to spend time with the other program students before we parted ways, I went anyway. I called a safe taxi, kissed my husband goodbye, and went on my way. I was looking at pictures on my phone, only halfway paying attention to my surroundings. As we approached Barranco, I noticed that we were driving through one of the bad parts of Lima. I felt uneasy, but I convinced myself that I would feel better once we arrived at the restaurant.

The taxi was about three blocks away from the restaurant. We were going over a series of speed bumps, and as we hit one, a guy suddenly tried to jump through the window open by the taxi driver. I screamed, and the driver promptly shoved the guy outside the window. Frightened, I asked the driver what the guy wanted, but I couldn’t understand him. He did say, however, that this was an extremely unsafe area and that sometimes people will try to steal or kill drivers when they slow down at the speed bumps.

The driver asked me what I was doing around this area, and I told him that I was having a dinner with my study abroad program. He strongly cautioned me to be careful. The restaurant, he told me, was safe, but the surrounding area was not.

The dinner show eventually started, but I could not enjoy my time. The adrenaline from the even was still rushing through my veins, and I was worried about my trip home, since I would have to go through that neighborhood again in order to return home. I called my husband about what happened, and he immediately came to pick me up. I tried to enjoy myself for the half hour while I waited for him, something that proved to be immensely difficult.

My husband arrived in a taxi, and gave me a hug. I started crying about the incident, as I was still scared. I don’t know what the guy wanted, but if the driver had not been proactive in pushing him away, my night would have ended very differently.

My husband told me that while he was in the taxi to pick me up, he say several gangs standing around watching the cars drive by, waiting to do something to an unsuspecting driver or passenger. When he told me this, our taxi driver chimed in and said that the area was unsafe.

We went home and called over our neighbor to have a drink. I drank some wine, and retold the night’s events for the fifth or sixth time. He was surprised by the choice of location as well, but was glad I was safe. After two or three glasses, I was relaxed enough to fall asleep and forget about my worries.

I woke up the next morning feeling at peace about the whole situation. While there were many things that could have gone wrong that night, there were many things that actually went right. From the proactive behavior of the taxi driver, to the quick reaction of my husband, I ended my night in safety.

And while I was in danger that night, I don’t think that I should let one experience in a bad neighborhood negatively affect my perception of Peru. I love this country and will always be an advocate for its safe environment, provided travelers exercise good judgment and common sense.


Remembering Peru: Souvenir Ideas

Time July 29th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, Peru | No Comments by

There is a popular expression promoting minimalism that goes, “Collect memories, not things.” I wholeheartedly agree with this statement—the minimalist mindset is one that strives to find meaning and value in relationships and experiences rather than material items. When sorting through my things or purchasing new ones, I like to keep this mindset, even when souvenir shopping.

However, that is not to say that I never actually buy anything—quite the contrary! I just think that it is really important to consider WHY I want to purchase a souvenir, just like any other item. I would much rather have a few meaningful pieces than a bunch of junk that I only somewhat enjoy.

Read More »


Amazonian Beauty

Time July 25th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Peru | No Comments by

This week I went on a field trip for my Community Building and Sustainable Development class. We were able to explore the amazon, meet the Yagua people (indigenous group who live in the amazon), interact with many animals, and visit and learn about several NGOs in the area of Iquitos. It was a great experience and I’m happy to share it with ya’ll.

It’s July 8, 1:37 pm in the afternoon. I am casually laying on a hammock in Iquitos, Peru as noisy monkeys and birds do their daily routine of chatter. As I lay here calmly and peacefully swaying under a palm leaf roof, I’m praying that the 98% deet containing mosquito spray does its magic. So many pesky mosquitoes are zooming around threatening to find a place on my legs and arms. Besides the noises of nature, the Amazon is indeed peaceful. The next activity is at 2:30 pm, so it is just enough time to get a short nap in. The nature’s sounds will be my lullaby. Read More »


On Being Sick for an Entire Week (or maybe an entire month?)

Time July 21st, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, Peru | No Comments by

I picked up many nice souvenirs during my time in Cusco. Matching hats made from baby alpaca wool, an overpriced journal, and scented glitter gel pens were my favorites.  I even picked up something with very lasting memories attached to it—FOOD POISONING.

I’m no stranger to street food and sketchy food joints here in Peru. My husband and I regularly frequent establishments that would probably be an American Health Inspector’s nightmare. Since I hail from the land of rules and regulations, there is always a tinge of worry tainting my thoughts whenever I choose to eat at these places. Yet for some reason, despite my constant fears and doubts, I’ve never gotten sick. Because of this, I tend to turn a blind eye to questionable food safety practices.

So imagine my delight when our Program Director invites the group to a pizza place during our last night in Cusco, a respectable restaurant located in the heart of the tourist district. Seems like a safe place to not worry about, right? WRONG!

Read More »


The Necessity of Humility

Time July 5th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, Peru | No Comments by

Even though I have been to Peru four times now, I had successfully avoided visiting Cusco and Machu Picchu until very recently. I probably wouldn’t have gone, either, except for the fact that one of the required trips included in the program is visiting Peru’s most famous tourist attraction. And that’s exactly why I never had any inclination to visit, because Cusco and Machu Picchu are both crawling with tourists. Read More »


Laughed my Heart out in Colorful Peru

Time July 5th, 2016 in 2016 Fall, Peru | No Comments by


Picture 1 of 4

My first week in Lima, Peru has been pretty wonderful. It consisted of a lot of walking, several sight-seeing opportunities, new helpful friends, (more) Spanish, laughable memories, and delicious food (I have yet to be disappointed.*knock on wood*). This week (June 15-19) I did several things and experienced different parts of Lima, but I’d like to focus on two days where I had the most fun. Read More »


Goodbye Peach State. Hello Machu Picchu, Llamas, and Grey Skies

Time June 20th, 2016 in Peru | 2 Comments by

Suitcases are packed with warm clothing fit for fall/winter weather. I’m trading my bathing suits and shorts for leggings and long t-shirts. The calendar tells me it is summer for it is the month of June, but I have prepared myself for a much different season with gray skies and cold temperatures. My short summer has officially come to an end. Though it is bitter sweet, I am excited for what is to come.

It is 11:40 am. As I finish my Chick-fil-A sandwich (hold the pickles), I look out my small plane window and take in the vastness of what I’m leaving behind. Goodbye green fields of growing crops. Goodbye rural Georgia with its hot humid weather and cheery southern feel. Goodbye everything I care about- family, friends, and sweet tea. In 12 hours I will be thousands of miles away, in a different country. I’ll be saying “Hola” to Lima, Peru. Six months in Peru to study abroad is what is ahead.

What do I expect? I expect one thing and one thing only and that is, to have an amazing experience speaking Spanish and learning about the wonderful Peruvian culture and its history. As a Latin American and Latino Studies major, I have learned a bit about Peru’s history. One thing is reading about a country and its culture, and a quite different thing is going to the country of study and seeing and experiencing several aspects that make it unique and interesting. Studying abroad in Peru will be, I hope, life changing and filled with inspiration to act towards what is just and also filled with appreciation towards a Latin American country such as Peru.

Additionally, I can’t wait to meet my host family and fall in love with them instantly. I look forward to the variety of delicious Peruvian foods. I heard the sea food is amazing. I’m not much of a sea food person, but I may just have to give it a try. Moreover, I must make it an effort to not go over board on the consumption of desserts. It will be an endeavor. It will be great to meet new people and make connections with one another. I can’t wait to explore new places-Machu Picchu, Patagonia, and local villages.

Llamas will be petted. Small curious children will be hugged. Playing soccer while barefoot will happen. A heap of food will be consumed. Much will be learned. I may become lost while walking to point A to point B. I’ll miss my family and friends during these six months. Most importantly, however, many memories will be made.

I pray that this six months adventure allows me to make many lasting memories. I hope to learn a lot and grow as a person every day I spend in the beautiful colorful country of Peru. Here’s to the year of travel, learning, and growth.


How to Pack for Weekend Trips

Time June 6th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, Peru | No Comments by

One of the most exciting aspects of any study abroad program is the heightened ability to travel easily. Whether you want to whisk away to a foreign country for a quick visit, or you want to explore a town that you’ve learned about in class, weekend trips are an extremely likely component of your study abroad experience.

Even if you don’t have the desire or funds to travel much during your semester abroad, chances are very likely that your program will include some weekend trips as a part of your learning experience. In that case, you will need to pack a small bag, which can be tricky. When you overpack for short, highly-mobile trips, you can feel weighed down by excess stuff. The point of trips is to enjoy the experience, so each item should be useful so that you can focus on your travels instead of your items. After taking a couple weekend trips (both for the program and with my husband), I have compiled some tips to help you pack more efficiently for the weekend:

Read More »


How to Study Abroad in a Foreign Language

Time May 16th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, Peru | No Comments by

When I was in the planning stage for studying abroad, many different programs tried to sell me their perfect version of academics in a foreign land. Some took pride in their excursion-based, globe-trotting setting, where participants visit the sites and cultures that they learn about in class, such as having art class at the Louvre or Latin class a block away from the Colosseum. Other programs touted their appeal to foreigners through American professors and independent living arrangements.

However, as I have mentioned in previous posts, one of the reasons that I chose this program in particular was so that I could improve my Spanish skills and attempt to integrate into Peruvian culture as much as possible.

But even so, after I had selected this program, the idea of studying abroad was still overly romanticized, both by my home university and by IFSA-Butler itself. While I received endless information regarding culture shock and safety tips, I felt extremely underprepared when it came to my future classes. Not only would I be taking a full schedule of classes in a foreign language, I would have to adjust to a completely different learning system.Like any Millennial, I scoured the Internet for the best tips out there, only to come up empty-handed. It seemed as though EVERYONE had forgotten the first half of the term “studying abroad.”

Read More »


My Marriage and the Unfolding of Peruvian Society

Time April 25th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, Peru | No Comments by

Confession time: my reasons for studying abroad in Peru run deeper than my desires to learn about Latin American culture and to live in the developing world.

In fact, it even explains my month-long hiatus from blog writing.

Read More »