From March 7th-10th, we left Lima and headed to Tarapoto, ready to escape the city traffic and busyness for a few days. While Tarapoto is a city, it is MUCH smaller than Lima and much calmer. The majority of transportation is via Mototaxi instead of buses or cars. This trip definitely helped me affirm that the jungle is my favorite climate in Perú. The food, fresh air, calmness, culture, and nature, all add up to make the selva a beautiful place. While Tarapoto was much different than my experience in Iquitos last semester, I still loved it!
In Tarapoto, we did a night walk in the jungle, tried out new foods and fruit juices, visited waterfalls and large lagoons, fished and made pottery. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves and show the lovely trip which we had.
More than anything, I am beyond happy to have shared this experience with the lovely group of students who came to Perú with EdOdyssey. It would be impossible to count the number of laughs we shared or hilarious stickers we sent in our Whatsapp group during this trip. From swimming in freezing cold water, to tasting camu camu for the first time, to catching a plastic bag while fishing instead of a fish, it was all smiles! The trip was yet another reminder that study abroad is so much more than just the “study” or the “abroad”. It’s about the people you meet, the connections you make, and the experiences you share with those around you. <3
On February 6th, I hopped on a plane to Canada. And then I hopped on another plane to LIMA! Yeah, I know that going north to go way south makes no sense at all, but it was cheap so it makes at least a little sense….
Leaving for Peru felt a bit different this time around. I already knew what to expect of the university, the people, my house, the program, and my host family. The only 2 major differences were that it was going to be a new group of Holy Cross students and I’d be arriving in the depths of SUMMER.
So on February 9th, I arrived at Tanta for my welcome lunch part 2. Walking up to the table a few minutes late, like a true peruvian, I was warmly greeted by a hug from our cultural advisor, Luis, and lots of smiling faces. After just that day, I knew that it was going to be a great group. The beauty of study abroad is being able to connect with diverse individuals and people you may never have been friends with otherwise. While I knew all the Holy Cross students coming for this semester, during my two weeks here so far, these previously “hi”-friends have become true friends. I’ve always believed that the people you surround yourself with play a crucial role in the shaping of your life and the experiences you have. The group’s positivity, desire to improve their Spanish, and overall commitment to taking full advantage of the opportunity to be in Peru for a semester has already made the beginning of this semester special!
Over the past two-ish hot, sticky, and wicked sunny weeks of summer, the mornings have been spent back at El Sol Spanish school in Miraflores. In the tardes, we either have activities organized by the EdOdyssey team, or have free afternoons to disfrutarnos. As I write this blog, it is a free afternoon and I’m sitting in a park writing with pen and paper, watching dogs play with each other. The sun is beginning to set, and the cool breeze feels like the perfect refresher after another hot, humid, Lima summer day.
There are many more updates to come, but I’ll pause here…. Peru PARTE 2 is going just dandy. Only a few tears have been shed so far, mainly due to the frustrating bus system, so I’ll consider that a win J. It has been great to see and hear from peruvian friends again, dip my toes back into the nightlife, and bond with the new Edodyssey group! Additionally, being the only student with my host family this semester, I’ve been able to bond and chat with them a lot more. Due to summer vacation, the daughter of my host brother… my host niece I suppose… has been staying at the house and it has been a real blast bonding with the energetic, talkative gal!
**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 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!
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!
Let me just start by saying that I had no idea what Peruvian food was before I got to Lima, and quite frankly, I thought it would be similar to Mexican food. Oh how I was wrong.
During our pre-departure meeting with the President of EdOdyssey (program that Holy Cross does study abroad through in Peru), I shouldn’t have brushed off the president’s comment about how we will probably gain weight. At the time, I had just ended my 12 year competitive ice skating career and was still in great shape.
At Holy Cross and at home, I had never struggled with finding and choosing healthy food options. My favorite foods were, and still are, fruits and vegetables in addition to a daily dose of ice cream. In Kimball dining hall at Holy Cross, I would indulge in a blueberry muffin on Mondays and Wednesdays for breakfast, but I would always accompany it with a big bowl of fruit. My go-to lunch and dinner was a bowl of brown rice with grilled chicken and a bunch of lettuce and salad fix-ins, topped off by some balsamic vinaigrette. When garlic knots were served, I gladly indulged. When I was craving a bagel, I also indulged.
Yet as I previously stated, my entire time at Holy Cross was characterized by a busy combo of studying and ice skating. Each week I practiced up to 6 days and about 18 hours. I could easily afford to eat bowl of ice cream or a garlic knot here and there. But at the same time, I was astutely aware of the importance of eating well, getting my daily greens, protein and sources of nutrients.
So here I am in Peru… and Bread is my weakness.
I think of students studying in Italy and I’m like, “yeah, I could see how they’d gain weight from eating lots of yummy pasta.” But in reality, I think the carb intake of a Peruvian diet tops a daily dose of pasta.
For breakfast, we get two rolls of bread (pancitos) and an egg, as well as a fruit smoothie.
For lunch, we are on our own. I would go as far as say that about 95% of food options, at restaurants, at bodegas, and at the university, are carb based. Most peruvian dishes include a combo of potatoes and rice. If you’re lucky, you’ll get multiple types of potatoes in your meal! Additionally, among quick snack or lunch options there are empanadas, croissant sandwiches, and triple sandwiches which have about 4 or more pieces of bread in them.
For dinner, our host mom serves us Peruvian food. More bread, potatoes, and white rice.
Each week I tell myself I am going to cut down on how much bread and bread-related foods I eat. But bread is my weakness. What’s a post-dinner tea without a piece of bread with jam?
As I continue to fill my body with carbohydrates and attempt to save my body at the gym each day, all I want is a salad. I miss Kimball. I miss the Pub and being able to design my own salad. I miss the accessibility of healthy options. I miss the days when I didn’t have to tell myself to not eat bread.
Don’t get me wrong, Peru’s food is great! Matter of fact, apparently Peru is the “Best Culinary destination in the World” for the 7th consecutive year (World Travel Awards).
So I guess the point of this blog is to share with you that when someone tells you that you will gain weight in Peru, they are probably right. And if you have even the slightest affinity for bread in the U.S., bread will probably become your weakness too if you come to Peru.
Here’s to another month of bread intake and looking forward to numerous salads and platefuls of vegetables when I get back to the states for Christmas!
Over the past couple of weeks, I have had the chance to do some traveling and also to have a wonderful visit from my parents!! Before my parents arrived, I enjoyed a high altitude, yet super fun and adventurous, trip to Huaraz. It was wonderful bonding with friends and getting to know new people as well. During the weekend, I stayed with four friends in a local hostel which was housing lots of people who were visiting Peru. It’s amazing how many people travel alone and make friends at each stop during their travels. During one of our hikes, Grace and I got to know two lovely ladies from Portugal and Holland.
The following weekend, I welcomed my parents to my new home of Lima! We took a weekend trip down south to Puno and then while I was taking classes during the week, my parents took a trip to the jungle and stayed at the same lodge I stayed at in August! To round off their trip, we had a few days to explore Lima and do some sightseeing around the city!
After a super long stretch of staying in Lima, we finally escaped the city and took a little vacation to Ica, Perú. As part of the Holy Cross study abroad program in Lima, we have three trips which are planned out by and led by EdOdyssey (the program which Holy Cross does study abroad here through). Ica is the second trip that we get to go on.
Our wonderful program coordinator, Patty, runs a small hotel with her family in Ica and kindly welcomed us in for the weekend. During our brief two day stint in the area, we went sandboarding in the sand dunes, rode in a buggie (see pics!), had a barbecue in the sand dunes, cooked (well… prepared) our own Peruvian food, saw sea lions at the Islas Ballestas, and so much more! En route to Ica we also got the chance to learn a little about Afro Peruvian music and culture and even play a little bit ourselves!! After that, we stopped at the Hacienda San Jose for a tour of the hacienda and breakfast. It was definitely a strange experience to witness how a place where slaves were tortured and mistreated, has now been turned into a hotel and tourist attraction. Following this, we stopped at Tacama, a vineyard, for a tour and tasting. We sure love our wines and piscos 😉
I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. T’was a wonderful weekend of laughter, Huawei phone jokes, playing in sand, and enjoying el SOL!
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!!!
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:
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)
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!
various singing performances by groups and solo artists
dance performances, including multiple awesome performances by a group that did traditional dances from the region of Puno
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 😉
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: 3,102 full time undergraduate students
PUCP: 23,342 undergraduate students
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
PUCP: Spanish (yet a few readings for classes may be in English)
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.
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.
HC: public safety; a few monitored gates
PUCP: guards at every entrance and must show student ID to enter