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


Time November 24th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

A new Lima pastime I have discovered recently is surfing.  I had tried to surf once or twice before coming to Peru and more or less failed at it, but here I’ve gone three times, and its been awesome (apart from a few minor problems with sea urchins).  Board and wetsuit rental costs 20 soles, or about $7, and ceviche/leche de tigre (very similar to ceviche) taste even better after coming in from the ocean.

A few days ago, after a good surf session, I was sitting in my favorite ceviche restaurant, and I thought: if ceviche is my favorite food, and this is my favorite ceviche restaurant, that has to put this restaurant somewhere near the top of my “favorite restaurants ever list”.  And a bowl of leche de tigre costs $2.  Wow.  I’m going to have serious difficulty readjusting to american prices.

Unfortunately, the beaches near me in Lima are pretty rocky and unpleasant, but once you’re out in the water it mostly doesn’t matter, and the waves are phenomenal!

Spending more time at the beach is reminding me what a vacation this whole experience has really been, and that it’s going to be over fairly soon. : (


This Weekend in Pictures (mostly)

Time September 17th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Huaca Pucllana

We visited, an archaeological site from the Wari culture (500-1000 AD) that was right in the middle of Miraflores on Saturday.

Huaca Pucllana

Huaca Pucllana

It was a fun and interesting tour.  And when I say ‘right in the middle of Miraflores’, I mean like this:


Also at La Huaca, an obligatory alpaca pic:



My orientation team, the Gringos Greenos

My orientation team, the Gringos Greenos

Back in orientation, my team won free one-day tickets to Mistura, a two-week long food festival that was amazing.  It had the vibe of a small scale Lollapalooza or similar music festival, except the focus was (obviously) on food, and the bathroom lines were more reasonable.  It was right on the beach, and there was even sun!



I spent 7 hours there, eating and sampling all different sorts of food, and only spent about an hour not walking from food booth to food booth… I was watching a live food-network type show.

Some foods I ate:

  • Guinea Pig – tasted like dark turkey meat
  • Alpaca – tastes like a really lean steak.  Bien rico (really good).
  • Lots of Ceviche  – probably one of my favorite foods of all time… my host mom is going to teach me how to make it on Saturday!
  • Leche del Tigre – the juice of ceviche (lime, spices, seafood, other stuff).  It tastes like standing on the edge of a windy cliffside overlooking an erupting volcano.  Mildly addicting.
  • Shrimp soup
  • Sushi
  • Fried rice
  • Brownies
  • Chocolate
  • Maricuya Sour (really good Pisco drink)
  • Tons of samples of chocolate, coffee, and other random things

I spent more money than probably any one else that I went with, and felt a little guilty… the total cost was about $30.

Peruvians are extremely proud of two things: food, and the Incas.  I haven’t been to the Andes yet (I’m going next week), but the pride in food is definitely well supported.

The APPETIZER of a great meal I had today for about $2.70 (partially eaten)



The Super-Good Birthday Cake Alexandra Brought Today (partially eaten)



I have only gotten one legitimate and specific question about American culture while I’ve been here (not including the standard broad ones like “What is the US like?”), and it was concerning the portrayal of ‘Southerners’ in South Park.  Of the many Peruvians I’ve met who have been to the US, the majority have been only to Miami and Disney World.

I saw a Radiohead cover band at a bar this weekend.  They were quite good.  Also, in an effort to further emulate the band, they never talked to the audience, and didn’t play “Creep”.

Probably the most glaringly obvious example of machismo I have seen in Peru yet.  This is a normal can of spray paint:


I was talking to somebody in one of my classes today, and he told me about this video.  It’s awesome.

Beautiful Day

Summer almost here!

Summer almost here!


Part of a Concert I Stumbled Upon at PUCP

Time August 29th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

A Band I stumbled upon playing at PUCP around 6 pm that I really enjoyed.  I think they were called Mucura.  I stayed untill they finished playing… about 30 minutes.


Week 3

Time August 25th, 2014 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

The Weather

It’s kind of cold here, mostly because of the humidity.  I’ve been wearing sweatshirts, or at least long sleeves, every day, but unfortunately, I only brought three sweaters/sweatshirts, and somehow I managed to lose one of them in my first week here.  Also, I have only seen the sun three times in my three weeks here.  That’s not an exaggeration either… the first time I saw the sun here was my first day, when one of the guys who as been here for longer pointed it out and was amazed to see it.  The second time was during one of our orientation classes (which take place in this really awesome partially-outdoor brick courtyard thing) when somebody saw part of the courtyard become fully illuminated, a clear distinction from the shadows everywhere else.  He alerted everyone in the class, and we all frantically got up out of our seats to run over and look at the sun, before it was gone.  The third time was a few days ago when I went to an art museum with some friends. I should mention that all of these times, we didn’t have a clear view of the sun; we could just clearly see the glowing outline of where the sun was through an unusually thin layer of clouds, and only on one of those occasions did the sky look blue and like anything that could be considered something other than cloudy.

Even though this makes it sound bad, I actually really love the climate.  It’s very comfortable as long as you have a light jacket or a sweatshirt to put on when you are cold.


I caught my first glimpse of real poverty in Lima when I went to the Chorrillos district on Sunday.  My host mom invited to to come along to a family picnic with her daughter, her daughter’s husband and two kids.  We were in a nicer part of Chorillos in a gated community connected to a country club, where we went for the picnic, but driving through parts of Chorrillos I began to see how many people in Lima live.  There were stray dogs everywhere and looking up into the hills off of the main roads were densely-packed, self-built houses separated by dirt roads.  I can’t wait to start working with people from these areas of Lima when we start the volunteering part of the program in Villa El Salvador next weekend.

The Art Museum

I went with some friends to the historical area of Lima to an art museum.  Unfortunately, almost all of it was closed and being renovated, but one pre-Incan exhibit remained open and it was pretty cool, and the building itself was very interesting.

Pictures of Miraflores, Chorrillos and the Art Museum


I don’t have a whole lot of hope for getting Computer Science/Engineering credit while I am studying abroad here, so I decided to expand my horizons a little bit and take some random classes that interest me.  In addition to the two IFSA required courses, both of which are basically Peruvian History/Culture classes that seem fairly interesting, I will be taking Bio-Huertos (which in English is something along the lines of ‘Urban Farming’), Actuación 1 (Acting 1), and Cine (Film).

Urban farming is something I have always been interested in, and I came here wanting to take an agriculture class or do something related to agriculture with my volunteer work, so Bio-Huertos appealed to me.  Plus there is a lot of class work time in the gardens, where I will hopefully be able to make some Peruvian friends.

Film seemed like a good mix of a fun time and a cultural immersion class that involves discussion and watching films in Spanish.  Our professor has said that he will be exposing us to films from all over the world from all different eras and genres.  The first film we watched this week was the American horror movie, The Exorcist.

Acting has been interesting thus far… I was originally going to take it because I was having trouble finding courses and because there was a chance that it would give me credit for a public speaking requirement I have for Northwestern, but after I went to the classes, I realized that, not only is it pretty fun, its a very verbal-communication heavy class, and I am the only non-Peruvian student, so it has been great for my Spanish, as well as interacting with local students, and we already have a class Facebook group!  If I can learn to act in Spanish, I’ll probably be able to do just about anything in Spanish.  But the class has been unlike any class I’ve had before thus far… Through the reading I have learned things like ‘An actor must have an exceptional perception and sense of sight, hearing, touch, pleasure and smell’, or ‘Being an actor requires an insatiable curiosity for the human condition’, and that ‘Actors must be physically and mentally stronger than other people’.  In class so far, we have mostly made verbal presentations and played games.  We even spent about forty minutes one day ‘exploring the space’ where the class was held.  It was awesome.

All in all though, I think Tobias Fünke’s portrayal of acting is pretty accurate thus far.

Spanish Skills

My Spanish is improving quickly.  I can easily understand all of my professors, or anyone else speaking clearly.  Speaking is much harder, but I’ve been able to make some impromptu verbal presentations that were slower than everybody else’s but still coherent and I said everything I wanted to say.  The hardest things for me are vocabulary and understanding people at stores, on the street or in social settings when I am not initially devoting all of my attention to listening to them.  Also, at the end of the day, I find I am much more tired than I would be if I were speaking English all day.  English also becomes much harder when you are in that Spanish groove, and so I often find myself unable to communicate a complex idea in English or Spanish. tl;dr: My Spanish has improved a lot here but I’ve still got a long way to go.


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.


Classes have started…

Time August 20th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

…which means life is completely hectic here in Lima. I’m only taking the equivalent of 17 credits this semester, but it seems like a ton. There is mounds of outside work assigned each day, all of which are in Spanish of course.

I am taking a theology class and a linguistics class, in addition to the two mandatory classes that each IFSA-Butler student has to take. The two required classes are Advanced Spanish Grammar, which is basically a writing class, and Peruvian Social Reality. Peruvian Social Reality seems really interesting, and I am very excited for it. One component of this class is working with a NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) for at least seven hours each week and completing a research project based on this work.

I have decided to work with an organization named Casa de Panchitas. This NGO works with domestic workers, or maids that work six days per week with one family. Casa de Panchitas provides a place for these women to go on Sundays, their day off. They also provide legal support, cooking lessons, recreational activities, and sexual education.

I am going to be working specifically with minors. There are many girls here that are working as maids as early as 13. Most of these girls have been forced by their parents to go and find work to support themselves and to help support the family. It is a really sad situation, but Casa de Panchitas tries to help the girls continue their education and know their rights as workers.

I will be working with these girls on Sundays; helping them with their homework (These girls go to night class and then work all day). I will also be helping the girls with self-confidence through song, dance, and acting. I am really excited to get started. My first day is on Sunday and I am sure that the girls will be more than welcoming.

It is a relief to finally get into a rhythm and get more settled in down here. Let the semester begin!


Orientation, Orientation, Orientation

Time August 13th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

The past two weeks have been a blur. Orientation is jam-packed with activities, lectures, excursions, and information. I don’t know how I’ve taken all of this information in…I’m sure I’ve missed some.

We’re approaching the end of our two weeks of orientation, and classes are going to be starting on Monday. I must say that I am deeply grateful to IFSA-Butler for having a structured orientation system. It really helps to become adjusted to the new situations when you are always on the go, always have something to do, and always have people around you.

We have gone to so many places in the past two weeks. From excursions to the Center of Lima, to eating in China Town, to hanging out on the Pacific Coast, I have been afforded the opportunity to take some of the many sights and sounds of Lima.

Last weekend we went to the Center of Lima. We went to the Cathedral of Lima, China Town, the Catacombs, and the Inquisition Museum. The Cathedral of Lima was really interesting. The archbishop lives in the adjacent building, and Fransisco Pizarro is buried in the Cathedral. There are many famous and rich individuals in Lima’s history that are buried in the Cathedral. It was really interesting to learn more about the history of Lima and that of Fransisco Pizarro and the development of the Church in Lima.

We also went to the Catacombs, after eating about 3 pounds of food each in Lima’s Chinatown. There is a very large Chinese population here in Lima, and they have mixed Chinese food with Peruvian food to create Chifa. Chifa is some of the richest food I have ever consumed. I strongly suggest that everyone try it if they have a chance.

In the catacombs we were able to see the remains of over 50,000 individuals. It was kinda creepy, but at the same time really neat to see the devotion that these people in history had to their faith and to preserving history. The catacombs are located in a Catholic Church which was also a monastery.  We got to go into the library that the monks had during the 1600s. The books are still completely in tact, and date back to the 1600s. Only historians are allowed to go through the books, as they are fragile, and most are written in Latin.

I also had the opportunity to go to Miraflores’s famous “Park of Love.” The Park of Love is a park overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The park is named after the massive statue in the middle, which happens to be of two individuals kissing passionately. Miraflores, a neighborhood of Lima, is situated up on a cliff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Therefore, the sights from the park are breathtaking.

The Catacombs

Picture 1 of 10

Orientation, Fall 2010

Tonight we are going to go on a night tour of Lima, which ends in Central Lima at the Park of Fountains. I guess there are massive fountains that go in time to coordinated music and lights. There is a tradition down here of trying to run to the middle of the fountains and back without getting wet.. I think I’ll try it! I’ll definitely let you know how it goes!



here comes the sun!

Time September 18th, 2008 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I saw my shadow today!  I was sitting on the grass in front of the cafeteria eating Leah´s avocado and then there it was, right next to me, right where it used to be all the time…until I came to study spanish in Lima.  It´s winter here now, which instead of meaning snow or rain or freezing temperatures just means GREY.  Since I got here about a month and a half ago (wow) I´ve seen the sun in the city for an hour or two at a time, on maybe four different days.  It should start to get better soon as we get closer to summer, and I can´t wait!

The kind of amazing thing is that it´s just Lima that´s like this;
when we went to Caral a few weeks ago the sun was beating down on us as we toured the ruins. As we rode the bus back into the city we could tell we´d made it back when we no longer had to squint our eyes to see out the windows.  Even in certain outer areas of the city there´s sun a lot of the time.  Unfortunately, where I hang out it tends to be pretty grey.

So today was exciting!  In an effort to take advantage of the weather, I decided to find a quiet space and read a bit on the grass after lunch.  Obviously that didn´t happen…how could I read when I was busy being deliriously happy with the feeling of the sun on my shoulders?  Leah and I ended up playing catch with a small orange for a good half an hour…and it was surprisingly amusing, especially when it bounced off my head or hit a building and split open and then squirted juice everywhere (don´t worry Whittemores: I´m not wasting fruit, it was already bruised and moldy when we started :] ).

Anyway, when I´m not experiencing sun-induced regression to childhood, what do I do with my life?

I spend a lot of it at La Católica, the university, and a lot of it on public transportation trying to get there or back.   The university is completely closed off from the street, and I have to show my ID card to get in every morning (I feel so official!).  The street outside is really busy and dirty, but inside is very nice and green and pretty.  It´s not like Brown or other traditional US universities with big brick buildins around a main green…it has lots of small buildings connected by paths and walkways through green lawn areas.  The buildings mostly are designated as belonging to a facultad, which is like a department (math, social sciences, etc), and tend to look pretty different from each other.  There are a bunch of cafeterias scattered around that are named after different areas of study, but since I don´t belong to a particular facultad I just eat at the one that I think is the best, which is right in the middle of campus.

Católica doesn´t have dorms on campus, since most students still live with their parents while they´re attending school.  In between classes the students either go to a library, a study room, a cafeteria, or hang out on the grass (my place of choice).  It´s great because there are always people around, and it´s not a huge campus so I can usually find someone I know if I want to wander around long enough. the bad part of it is that all the couples have nowhere to go to do their couple-y things, so sometimes my favorite reading nooks are occupied by people who…well, people who aren´t reading.  Less frequently I come across another interesting thing about la Católica–the deer that live and roam around freely on the campus.  It´s said that they escaped from the zoo nearby a few years ago and now they make their home on campus.  I don´t know how many there are, but I see them every day, and occasionally even see one of the two little fawns…so cute!

Students here take two years of classes in the school of general studies, and then three years of study in their major in a particular facultad.  Since most of the classes they take are required and in a certain order, a lot of people have their classes with a set group of people every semester.  For example in one of my classes there´s only one student in the class who is not in the facultad, and almost everyone in the class is in their second semester of the major.  So they all know each other, which is definitely different than a lot of my classes at Brown, where I wouldn´t know a single person.

I´m taking 2 courses that are required by the IFSA-Butler study spanish in Peru program: a writing/grammar class and a class called “Peruvian Social Reality.”  Other than that I am taking one class in the school of general studies (history) and one in the language arts type facultad (sociolinguistics).  I also am sitting in on a class in the comunication department, but I´m not officially taking that one.

My classes are mostly really interesting, but I don´t find myself having to do much work.  That surprised me, since I was expecting to have reading to do, and to spend a lot of time on it deciphering unfamiliar Spanish words.  But it turns out some of my classes don´t have any reading, and the sociolinguistics class has a lot–in English!  While that´s good for my comprehension and general sociolinguistics-learning, it´s a little disappointing too, since any Spanish practice disguised as something else is helpful.

Oh well, it just means more time to play catch with fruit or nap on the grass in the sun!