La Primera Semana (The First Week)
*record scratch noise*
Oh, right, switching to English mode.
This week has been a whirlwind.
I arrived in Lima at 11pm and the next morning began the orientation. We met the other IFSA students and our “patas” (Peruvian slang for pals/buddies/friends) from the university. We talked about the program, culture shock, and what to expect. We had a fantastic lunch at Mangos, a Peruvian buffet restaurant by the beach in Miraflores (the area of Lima in which I am living). Then we walked over to the Parque del Amor.
Then, we met our host families.
That’s my host mom, Dina! She and her husband Klaus have been hosting students (and other people who come to Lima for various reasons) for a long time. They are incredibly nice, friendly, and understanding. Dina always speaks slowly and clearly so that I can understand her, which is really wonderful because it’s taking some time for my ears to adjust to the rapid Spanish spoken here. They are very easygoing – she lets us come and go as we wish, she’ll talk with me and ask about my day when she sees me but doesn’t mind when I’m in my room or not around, and if I miss a mealtime she’ll save my food and I can serve myself. They call it “autoservicio gentil y amable” (friendly and courteous self-service). 😉
Oh, also, I am no longer vegetarian. I wrote on my host family matching sheet that I would be willing to be flexible (if I’m in someone else’s house eating their food, I don’t want to be rude or cause problems), so Dina and Klaus have been serving meat dishes. Luckily, they are really good cooks and make tasty sauces and such so I don’t really mind. And they don’t force me to eat anything I don’t want to, so one night when I didn’t want the meatballs they served, it was completely fine and I ate the potato dish that went with it.
Speaking of potatoes, Dina said that there are about 5000 species here in Peru! Isn’t that amazing? They certainly do love their potatoes, and even though I used to not be much of a fan, I really like the ones I’ve eaten here. Dina had some the other night that looked plain and brown with the skins on, but inside had designs of deep indigo swirled into white. So cool.
The second day, we had the “charla de seguridad” (security/safety talk), aptly called the “I’m-going-to-scare-the-crap-out-of-you talk” by our directora. It was definitely scary – we talked about the many many things that we need to be aware of to avoid getting robbed (stealing is an art form in Lima), abducted, etc., especially in taxis and combis (the public buses of Lima). Needless to say, when we took a combi to the university two days later I was a bit worried. But our patas helped us out, and it all went smoothly.
The third day, we went to the center of Lima and did some sightseeing. We went to two different cathedrals and the crypt in one of them. We also passed through a little craft fair and went to a Chifa (Chinese-Peruvian restaurant) for lunch.
There we also tried the radioactive yellow, bubble-gum-flavored soda called Inca Kola. It’s… interesting. I hear it’s an acquired taste.
On Friday, we went to the university (first combi ride!) and walked around the campus, had lunch in the cafeteria, then took our Spanish placement exams. The campus is lovely, and there are deer that just hang out on campus! They are surprisingly calm and unafraid of people.
So, that was the first week of orientation! We had the weekend free, so when I wasn’t finishing my exam (online), Skyping, talking to my host parents and their various guests, or writing this post, I walked around Miraflores a bit and did some grocery shopping. But I’ll save the food talk for another day
¡Chaufa! (Literally, fried rice. Figuratively, see ya!)