Cena Internacional

This past Friday evening, Steve (another Holy Cros student) and I attended a potluck dinner with about 40 other international students and 20ish Peruvian students. The event took place at the house of our Peruvian friends and it was a great evening.

Steve made quesadillas and I made an American classic: Peanut Butter and Jelly! While I was making the PB&Js, I was surprised at the excitement which one of the Peruvian girls had for them! She had worked with Americans in the past and said that they brought PB&J for lunch every single day… which she said got tiring but now she really misses it! Others also knew about the sandwich and commented on how it is a TRUE AMERICAN FOOD!

The other participants brought delicious food from their home countries! Some of my favorites were a spicy Korean street food, Crepes, Spanish tortilla (potato dish), and Ratatouille! Two of my french friends made Ratatouille and it was absolutely delectable! One student from Sweden brought a variety of swedish gummies. I think this was my favorite “dish” because the Swedish candy, Billar, are my favorite gummies. You can only find them in Sweden and I have had so many funny memories with them while traveling around the world with my synchronized skating team. If you get the chance to go to Sweden, Billar are a MUST TRY!!

In addition to the abundance of delightful food from around the world, the evening was also a great chance to chat with friends and meet some new ones! The night was filled with conversations, dancing, eating, and FOOSBALL!

Steve and I make quite the foosball team…. We may not win too often but we sure try hard! We played two different sets of people and while playing against the second pair of students, I think we scored one point for their 20+ points… I asked the french student if he played foosball a lot and he goes “only while on vacation”…. based on his skills, he must go on a lot of vacations!

Unfortunately, I was having too much fun to take any pictures during the evening, but I’ll be sure to upload some pictures soon from other events!!!

Fun with the Fam and the Parroquia

La semana pasada… oh sorry! I forgot I have to write in english here!! #immersed

Last weekend Sandra and I went to an event with our host parents that was hosted by their church parish. When we left for the event we thought it would be a few hours, maybe a parade, some music and dancing, but we were sure in for a FULL DAY!

Here are a few highlights from the day:

  1. To go to the event, we somehow piled 5 people in my host brother’s tiny FIAT (host mom, host dad, host mom’s sister, host mom’s other sister’s husband)
  2. We ate SO MUCH FOOD!! For lunch Sandra and I got Causa (layers of mashed potatoes filled with chicken salad) and then we each had a dessert. I had Torta Hindu (a type of cake that is filled in the middle with what I believe is manjar blanco…aka dulce de leche… aka caramel). It was DELICIOUS! And thennn, we were sitting at the table and the husband of our host mom’s sister (she couldn’t come because she was sick) brought over a ton of Picarones for us to have. They were also DELICIOUS!! Picarones are a Peruvian street food which are basically fried dough rings that you eat covered with miel de chancaca (sugary syrup). Qué rico!
  3. various singing performances by groups and solo artists
  4. dance performances, including multiple awesome performances by a group that did traditional dances from the region of Puno
  5. dancing with our host family in front of hundreds of Peruvians from their parroquia (parish) . This was the first time dancing with our host family and it was so funny! Quite a blast! May have even picked up a few dance moves 😉
  6. The BIG ATTRACTION: BINGO!! Throughout the afternoon, there were multiple rounds of bingo that went on. During each round, it was completely silent, as everyone was focusing intently on trying to win the game. The prizes were various electric kitchen supplies (grill, juice maker, blender, rice cooker, etc.) as well as 4 monetary prizes! Sandra and I were aiming to win the “Masters” prize of 2,000 soles (about $650 dollars) but unfortunately we came up short 🙁

While I didn’t get any homework or studying done, this turned out to be an awesome day of bonding with my host family, eating lots of yummy foods, and making fools of ourselves on the dance floor! ((funny story: I went to the laundromat two days later and the lady there goes “I saw you at the parroquia on Sunday! You were dancing!!!” and I simply laughed and responded with “sí…”))

HC vs. PUCP

A Comparison at a Glance
https://www.holycross.edu/   vs.     https://www.pucp.edu.pe/en/

Student Population
HC: 3,102 full time undergraduate students
PUCP: 23,342 undergraduate students

Dining
HC: Kimball Dining hall is the main all-you-can-eat dining hall on campus. Kimball is open from 7am until 8pm, every day of the week. There are also a few other locations on campus where you can purchase sandwiches, salads, snacks, and coffee. The majority of students elect a meal plan which gives them unlimited swipe access to Kimball, as well as a couple hundred dining dollars to use at the various other locations on campus.

PUCP: There are three major “comedors” on campus. A “comedor” is a dining hall in which you can order full meals. Most students order the Menu Universitario, which usually includes a salad, a main dish, a dessert, and a drink. They also have a vegetarian option, as well as a “plate of the day” and a lighter fare option which you can get at these dining halls for very reasonable prices. In addition to these dining halls, there are many small cafés on campus which serve small sandwiches, breads, desserts, drinks, etc.. One of my favorite things on campus is the fruit stand. This has tons of fruits as well as other healthy snacks and smoothies. It is great when you simply need an apple to get you through your next class.

Housing
HC: Primarily On-Campus residential halls. Additionally, there are a few close off-campus options that some students choose to pursue junior and senior year.
PUCP: NO on-campus housing. Some students live multiple hours from school and commute each day. Many students live in the various surrounding municipalities of Lima.

Class sizes
HC: Besides a few intro classes, the majority of classes which I have taken have had about 20-30 students.
PUCP: One of my classes is a required class for Peruvians, and therefor has about 100 students in it. My other three classes are taught in smaller classrooms and have about 25-40 students.

Homework
HC: As I have taken mainly reading-based classes, I normally had 30-50 pages of reading due for each day of class. This usually added up to about 60-100 pages of reading per class per week.
PUCP: My classes at PUCP are either one or two times per week. On average, each class has about 60 pages of reading per week. For one of my classes, there is a required 1-2 paragraph reflection due each week on the required readings.

Campus
HC: On a MOUNTAIN. Greenspaces between buildings. Not particularly large (takes 10 minutes to get from one side of campus to the other). All the buildings are fully indoors. Only three main academic buildings/complexes. Large athletic complex and multiple athletic fields for competition and practice.

Photograph of a building at Holy Cross with a rainbow in the sky.
The skies over Holy Cross are the most beautiful!
View of Holy Cross from a window in Healy Residence Hall. Worcester can be seen in the background.
Another view of HC with a glimpse of Worcester in the background.

PUCP: FLAT. Lots of green spaces in which students eat lunch, socialize, and take part in events. Academic buildings are spread out across campus, making the campus feel larger than at Holy Cross. Stairwells and hallways of buildings are generally outside. Each subject, (ex. social sciences, law, engineering, etc.), has its own building/complex. Much smaller athletic complex. Courts for basketball, as well as soccer fields, and a track(supposedly…. I honestly have not personally witnessed this).

 

Beautiful view of the entrance to campus and a few main pathways.
Beautiful view of the entrance to campus and a few main pathways. Source: https://www.pucp.edu.pe/climadecambios/noticias/por-que-son-importantes-los-campus-universitarios-sostenibles/

Religious Presence

HC: Jesuit Catholic. Jesuit ideals, as well as many Jesuits themselves, are particularly present on campus. Many students attend mass weekly and participate in activities through the chaplain’s office.

PUCP: Catholic. While there are sometimes small catholic related things that catch my eye, there is no obvious catholic presence on campus that I have noticed. All Peruvian students are required to take a theology course.

Sports

HC: Division one, highly competitive teams, as well as intramural and club sports.

PUCP: Multiple sports teams which compete against other schools, yet are not the same caliber as D1 at Holy Cross. There are also many times when anyone can participate in sports for fun and fitness. There are workshops and times when you can learn different sports as well. Unlike Holy Cross, PUCP also has Chess, Judo, and Table Tennis!! http://deportes.pucp.edu.pe/deportes/

Language of courses

HC: English

PUCP: Spanish (yet a few readings for classes may be in English)

Libraries

HC: Three dominant libraries: Dinand Main Library, Science Library, Music Library. At each of the libraries there is a combination of tables(normally for four people), individual study cubicles, and computers. Dinand Library has the most extensive hours out of the libraries, and the largest seating capacity.

Photograph of the Main room in the Dinand library at holy cross.
Dinand Library! Fave Holy Cross study spot for sure!

PUCP: Central Library, Academic Innovation Complex Library, Social Sciences Library, Theology Library, Center for Oriental Studies Library. The first three libraries mentioned, are all large buildings with various areas to sit and read, meet for group projects, etc. There are also other buildings with large study spaces.

Inside the Social Science Library. Source: https://cosas.pe/casas/122229/nuevo-edificio-en-la-pucp-estudio-y-contemplacion/
Image of the outside of the CIA.
My new favorite study spot on campus: CIA. There is always a soft hum of people collaborating on work. Source: http://biblioteca.pucp.edu.pe/biblioteca/biblioteca-faci/

Security

HC: public safety; a few monitored gates

PUCP: guards at every entrance and must show student ID to enter

Trip to Iquitos

Before classes began in mid-August, we got the chance to travel to Iquitos, which is in the jungle region of Peru. While there, we stayed at a lodge in a small community along the Amazon River. When we got to the Iquitos airport on the first day, we walked out onto the runway and immediately could tell that we were no longer along the coast. The sky was bright, the air was humid, and finally the temperature was above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. To get to the lodge, we had to take a van, a mototaxi, and then a large motor-powered canoe.

During our first afternoon, we got a quick tour of the community, and then set out in our boat to go swimming. Along the edge of the river, there is lot of mud which we had a blast trying to crawl through and bathe in. Nothing quite like a relaxing mud bath in the amazon! To clean off, we swam out into the river and washed off there. To round off the afternoon, we watched the sun set from the middle of the Rio Ucayali.

Steve, Grace, Joe, and I enjoying a natural mud bath in the Ucayali river!
Steve, Grace, Joe, and I enjoying a natural mud bath!

Holy Cross students with our cultural advisor, Luis, enjoying the sunset over the river.
Holy Cross students with our cultural advisor, Luis, enjoying the sunset over the river.

After dinner, we took small canoes out through the marsh to find caimanes (alligators). It was really neat to see and hold an alligator, but since it had gotten dark, the mosquitos were out and vicious!! Good thing we got the yellow fever shot!

Sarah in a canoe holding an alligator.
Pretty cool holding an alligator!

The next day we did a “full day” excursion. After breakfast we set out for a day of animal watching, fishing for piranhas, and exploring the jungle. We got to feed some monkeys, see an anteater, and climb a massive tree. For lunch, our guide, Gumer, and our motorist, Alejandro, made a fire and cooked up the best meal I’ve had in Peru so far. We had fried plátanos (plantains), chicken, LOTS of rice, apples, cucumbers, tomatoes, and piranha, for those you cared to try it.

A monkey sits on the side of our canoe enjoying some orange.
Monkey enjoying some fruit

The next day, we woke up early to watch the sun rise and see some dolphins. It was absolutely incredible! We then went to a nearby community to meet a sloth named Pablo who has been domesticated by a family.

Sarah holding a sloth named Pablo.
Pablo is the CUTEST!

After breakfast back at the lodge, we went for a walk in the jungle to learn about herbal medicine and different plants which can be eaten or drank from in order to survive. In the afternoon, we did canotaje (canoeing). It was lots of fun even though the canoe, made out of wood, not plastic, was super unstable and we managed to tip the boat after about 5 minutes of rowing.

On the last day, we visited another nearby community to see a lily pad. While there, we also ended up finding an anaconda and a baby sloth!!

Joe, a student from holy cross, is holding an anaconda.
Joe holding the Anaconda.

After lunch, we made the trip back to Iquitos and got on a plane back to reality here in Lima.

4 Ways to Know you are Not in Massachusetts Anymore

Today I was walking home from orientation at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Perú (PUCP) and thinking about my experience so far, when this blog idea hit. I realized that since arriving in Peru, there are FOUR main areas in which there are STARK differences from what I am accustomed to in the United States. While there are MANY differences between the two countries, these four differences are what I have found most apparent and relevant to my day to day life here.

1.     Driving

On the second day in Lima, I got in the car with my host brother and as soon as we started driving, I was baffled by the experience. The first word that comes to mind to describe the driving here would be hectic. In order to change lanes, one must stick their car’s nose into the lane so that the person behind is forced to let them in. When a car blinks their lights, that means that THEY are going, not that they are letting you go! Similarly, the use of the car horn is practically imperative while driving here. A beep generally means that that car is going and to stay out of the way.

2.     Salutations

This one I was discussing with a Peruvian friend yesterday. Here in Peru, it is customary to greet someone with a kiss on the cheek. Similarly, when people are leaving, you get up and give a kiss on the cheek or a hug to send them off. This is definitely a change that takes some getting used to. In the U.S., we generally avoid physical or intimate contact until we are particularly well acquainted with someone. Here, when you meet a friend for the first time, you would greet them with a kiss on the cheek.

3.     Dancing

To my delight, people in Peru LOVE to dance! Unlike the casual head bob and funny dance moves that are often present at dances or parties in the U.S., as soon as reggaeton, bachata, or salsa music comes on in Lima, people are singing, dancing, and moving their bodies. It has been really fun to start learning the different styles of dance. I can always count on one of my Peruvian guy friends to grab me for a dance. I’m so excited to keep learning! I think the university’s salsa classes are calling my name!

4.     Buses

I’ve never been a big public transportation girl, so navigating the buses in Lima has been an ADVENTURE. Most buses have set routes which you can find on a phone app called TuRuta, or on the side of the buses, but there are very few official stops. Unlike the T in Boston, for example, while you ride the bus, the cobrador (person who collects your money and gets people on and off the bus efficiently) may shout out a few street names as they approach, but you are responsible for telling them when you want to get off the bus. This therefor means that in order to get ON the bus, you must wait along the route and wave your hand as the bus approaches so that it stops to let you on. The buses are often PACKED and it is always an ~experience~.

Month 1: A Day in the Life

During our first month in Lima, the students from Holy Cross took Spanish classes at a Spanish language school in Miraflores, called El Sol. During the afternoons, we had scheduled activities which have been coordinated and planned out by the EdOdyssey team. EdOdyssey is the program through which Holy Cross students do study abroad in Peru.

 

Here is a rundown of an “average” weekday during my first four weeks in Lima, that I wrote during the last week of Spanish classes:

 

Before I fall asleep each night, I go to the clock app on my phone and set three alarms: 6:23 AM, 6:30 AM, and 6:40 AM. The next morning, I wake up to the splendid sound of “apertura,” bright and early. I am usually slow to get out of bed, so I must rush to get ready for the day and attempt to be downstairs for breakfast by about 7:06 AM. What I love about breakfast at my host family’s house, is that it is consistent. Every day I have two pieces of bread, a small bowl of scrambled eggs, or occasionally a fried egg or omelet, and either a small bowl of mixed fruit, or a fresh fruit smoothie. My host dad makes the most delicious fruit smoothie. I’m not entirely sure of its ingredients but I think that it usually has strawberries, banana, passionfruit, orange, and pineapple.

 

Around 7:30, the other Holy Cross student living with my host family, and I walk to the bus stop. Depending on the day, we have to wait anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour for the bus. A common problem is that our bus will drive past but won’t stop because it is already filled to capacity. Similar to the T in Boston during rush hour, the bus we take to school is almost always PACKED. Most days, we have to stand for about two thirds of the ride to school. In total, the ride is usually approximately 50 minutes long. The bus passes by Parque Kennedy, which is the main central location in Miraflores, and usually a lot of people get off there.

 

Most days, we get to school by 8:30 and simply relax in the entrance room before classes begin at 9 AM. The first two hours of class are grammar. This has been very helpful because it is a quick, yet in-depth review of relevant and often-times difficult grammar concepts. After two hours, we have a 20 minutes break, and then classes resume for another two hours. These last two hours are “conversation”. For all four weeks that I have been at El Sol, I have had Jose as my teacher. He is the absolute best and not only helps with my Spanish, but also teaches the class about cultural aspects of Lima and so much more! There hasn’t been a single day this month in which I haven’t laughed during his class.

 

After classes, all the Holy Cross students eat the lunches which our host families have sent with us. Each day it is always a surprise to see what our host mom sent that day.

 

Around 1:30 PM, our awesome program coordinator, Patty, comes to El Sol to collect the Holy Cross students so we can go do whatever activity or small excursion is planned for the afternoon. These activities range from watching Peruvian movies, to going to museums, to visiting different areas in Lima.

 

On most days, we finish up the activity and make our way to Parque Kennedy. From there, I take the bus home. The bus ride home costs 1.5 soles and is usually less busy than on the way to school, making it is easier to get a seat. Each day I get off the bus near the fire station, and I always find it funny when the cobrador says “baja bomberos!” This phrase means that someone is getting off the bus at the fire station. A cobrador is the person who collects your money for the bus and who makes sure people get on and off of the bus.

 

Once I get home, I normally rest for a little while and then walk to the gym. The gym has become one of my favorite parts of the day. I always feel so accomplished when I finish a nice workout. The gym that I have a membership to is quite large and has lots of different machines and classes which I can utilize daily. After the gym, I walk home, take a shower, and have dinner. For dinner, we have various different meals, but there is always bread and butter. My host mom also always brings out hot water so I can make tea. I have truly become a tea girl down here. The main reason I drink so much tea is that I am constantly cold, due to it currently being winter here in Lima.

 

Once we have eaten dinner and washed our dishes, we go upstairs to our rooms. Before bed, I complete any homework I have due the next day. Luckily, the teachers at El Sol are muy chéveres and only assign a little bit of homework each night.

 

And to conclude, here is a fun fact about my daily routine this past month: My three favorite Peruvians that I see each day are Jose (my Spanish teacher), Pablo (my trainer friend at the gym), and the casino guard who always says “buenas noches” to me as I walk home from the gym.

The Adventure Begins

Thursday July 11, 2019

About 9 months ago I sat across from my parents at a local Bertucci’s Restaurant and told them that I wanted to study abroad for my entire junior year. Their first instinct was definitely to question my wild idea, but I was determined to go. So here I am, sophomore year of college in the books and ready to take on the adventure I was not willing to let pass by. In four hours, two other Holy Cross students, Sandra and Jennifer, and I will board our plane to Lima, Peru.

Quite frankly, it’s all very surreal. No matter how many informational packets, PowerPoints, and pre-departure meetings there are, there is really no way to feel fully prepared for such a new experience.

The fear of the unknown.

Will my Spanish be good enough? Will I fit in with my host family? What will the food be like? Did I pack all the essentials? The questions keep coming….

But just as with any new adventure one sets out on, the unknown is what makes it exciting; it is what gives it a thrill factor; it is the reason I so adamantly declared to my parents at Bertucci’s that I wanted to go abroad. In the months to come, I look forward to making the unknown a little more known and the known a little more unknown. I hope to expand my view of the world and learn more about both myself and others.

I’m looking forward to learning about and embracing the customs of my host family. For the first time, I am getting the opportunity to truly experience the power of integration into a different society. This is something that I’ve learned so much about during my first two years at Holy Cross, and which I have come to understand as vital when learning about and understanding others.

With my two STUFFED suitcases in hand and my backpack on my back, I head off on what the youngins may call the biggest YOLO of my life. Sometimes you have to jump and hope you don’t just land on your feet, but that you FLY.

Here’s to the adventure. Here’s to the unknown.