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Being Peru Ready

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.


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