Overseas Study Program
Kevin’s majors: Ethnomusicology, Anthropology
Term abroad: Spring 2011
Reason you chose this program: I definitely wanted to study in South America, and the challenges and benefits of IU’s Lima program really made it stand out.
Favorite classes: Ethnicity and Ethnic Minorities, Amazonian Ethnography
Decribe the housing situation: I lived in a homestay with a retired Peruvian woman and a Japanese woman who was volunteering at a museum in Lima as a Japanese-language tour guide. Not only did I learn Spanish from Teresa, my host, but I also sometimes found myself helping Chi-aki learn the language.
Advice to future study abroad participants: Go walking and explore your surroundings…you’ll feel much more prepared and at home if you know your way around your neighborhood. Also don’t be afraid to have laughably simple goals for the day; sometimes just walking down the street and buying sunscreen is a grand achievement when you’re dealing with a completely new situation, as you will be while abroad.
Best Memory: Too many…watching the sunset over the Sechura desert from a dune buggy after a day of sandboarding…the first glimpse of Machu Picchu as the bus arrived at the top of the mountain and the site suddenly came into view…bailing water out of a canoe that was slowly sinking into the Amazon river on my way back to the jungle town of Iquitos…and eating delicious sandwiches at the food cart “Tio Bigote”
Biggest Surprise: Peruvian food is incredible, and highly varied. Cebiche, saltados, chifas, sanguiches, rocotos relleno…very unique and tasty food. And it’s always very cheap.
Experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock: My favorite NBA team won the NBA championship while I was abroad, and even though I had been able to watch the games at sports bars or via skype, it was very strange to see people walking around in Dallas Mavericks gear when I was in the terminal of the Atlanta airport on my way home.
Complete this sentence: If I could do it over, I would… have tried to get more plugged in to the music scene…Lima has a super-vibrant arts world, but often shows aren’t promoted very well, so you have to pay close attention to find out about concerts in the area.
What you know now that you didn’t know before going abroad: That I can rely on myself to successfully get myself around…whether that’s while backpacking to a tourist destination or just navigating the urban metropolis of my new home.
What I wish I knew before I left: Sunscreen is expensive in Peru, and selection is limited. I am very pale, so I really should’ve thought to pack some before leaving for a country located fairly close to the equator.
Greatest Challenge: The amount of planning that is required sometimes when you have an hour-long commute to school made it difficult sometimes. In Bloomington if I oversleep I can just run to class, but in Lima running behind compounded the variables that were already out of my control, like the unpredictability of the combis and the crazy traffic in Lima.
Fact about your host country that you think people would be surprised to learn: Peru is the 3rd largest country in South America, and has incredible geographic diversity…There are coastal deserts, High mountain ranges, a canyon twice as deep as the American Grand Canyon, and the source of the Amazon river in a huge (and dense) rainforest region.