**finals ended about 3 weeks ago but figured I’d still post this*

There is always going to be the debate: which type of final is better? A paper or an exam? There are pluses and minuses for both. With an exam, you have to study hard leading up to it, but then it is over and done with in a couple of hours. You don’t necessarily know what the questions will be on an exam, so there is an inevitable element of surprise and fear. With a paper, you slave over crafting the best possible piece of work you can before the turn in date arrives. You have the questions or prompt you need, and the necessary resources are at your disposal.

Finals in Perú were absolutely no easier than finals at Holy Cross. This semester I had three final papers and an oral exam. While I was very nervous studying for and heading into my oral exam, it ended up going very well and I left feeling like a weight had been lifted off my chest. As a perpetual procrastinator, my biggest challenge this finals szn was that two of my papers were due on one day, and the next day I had my other paper due. While it is possible to write one paper the day before, it is not possible to write 3 extensive (high quality) papers in three days. I knew this going into the week. Of course, I still procrastinated. After 4 nights of barely any sleep, some chocolate, and too much coffee, all my finals were turned in. Pages and pages of Spanish words complete, it felt good to finish off the semester.

Yet this was not realllyyyy the end of paper writing. For Holy Cross students who study abroad in Perú, there is a required ICIP (Independent Cultural Immersion Project). This project requires students to immerse themselves in an activity, volunteer opportunity, or other cultural experience while in Perú. At the end of the semester, you have to present your experience and/or findings and write a final paper. As I attempted to get the paper done so I could be fully in vacation mode, I found that the combination of 6 months of life in Spanish and my true passion for my project made writing the final paper relatively easy.

Turning in this final paper allowed me to take a deep breath and say chau to this semester of schoolwork. It has been tough, but I have learned so much unique information that I could never get out of Holy Cross courses. This semester I learned about the complexity of Peruvian politics, society, and cultures. I expanded my anthropological perspective. I improved my ability to critically read in Spanish, as well as write strong academic papers in Castellano. In and out of the classroom, I learned and grew in ways I never have before. Just as with the final exam vs. final paper debate, there are pluses and minuses to study abroad. Study abroad is hard. Study abroad is a challenge. But study abroad is also an incredible opportunity to expand your mind, your perspective and your understanding of the world.

Thanksgiving 2019: Thankful for my Host Family

Thanksgiving this year was quite a bit different than my normal American Thanksgiving. While I actually have been out of the country for Thanksgiving in the past, this year felt especially different because I would be celebrating the day with people who don’t know much about the history of the holiday or the “normal” traditions. But as my dad made sure to remind me when I was complaining about not having my favorite foods for Thanksgiving this year, “it’s about the people you spend the day with,” and not what you eat.

This past Thursday I had a wonderful brunch with my host parents and my host aunt [I’ve never called her that but I guess technically the sister of my host mom would be my host aunt…]. My host mom made turkey, potato salad, a salad, rice, and humitas. To share with my family one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes, I attempted to make sweet potatoes. I had to improvise a bit due to the usage of a different form of oven than I would usually use, but in the end they still turned out delicious! Before the meal, my host family had me say my thanks and my host mom also said a few thanks. The meal was quite nice and was a fun time to chat about Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and American traditions.

Here are some photos!

Me with Hermi, my host mom, and Sara, my host mom’s sister!
Thanksgiving with the Family!
Yummy food! Thanksgiving with a Peruvian twist this year!
Sweet potatoes are normally made in the oven but this sort of made due… Nothing can beat sweet potatoes with brown sugar, cinnamon, and marshmallows!

ANDDDD the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, I ran the Lima Night Run with my host brother, Tito. Well… I didn’t run WITH him because he’s way faster than me, but we both ran the race! It was a super fun event and a cool experience running in Lima in the dark! At one point during the race, we ran through a tunnel that they lit up with colorful lights and played music! Overall, the race was great, but there was one portion that was stairs and steep inclines and it was PAINFUL. Even Holy Cross stairs wouldn’t prepare you for 40 flights of stairs in the middle of a race!!

After the race, there were various giveaways and a concert by We the Lion, a popular Peruvian band!

Everyone got a headlamp and had them set to the green setting as we started the race!
Nothing like a free cerveza to top off a race 🙂
Thankful for Tito for daily dinner chats and inspiring me to run
Aftershow: We the Lion