Additional program: Madrid, Spring 2014
Why did you choose this program? I chose the Lima program because I had heard that it was challenging but very rewarding. I knew I wanted to study in Latin America, and Peru offered social and geographic diversity that I wanted to explore!
Describe your favorite class(es) abroad. My favorite classes abroad were Quechua and US-Latin American Relations. Quechua is an indigenous language spoken in many countries in South America, and I learned a lot in the class about Peru's indigenous people as well as the language. The professor was absolutely wonderful, and the Peruvians and I were all on the same page, learning in the language for the first time. Taking a US foreign policy class in another country was an amazing lesson in perspective, and I enjoyed sharing my thoughts with my Peruvian classmates to see how they differed or were the same. I was enrolled directly into classes at PUCP with Peruvian students, so it was wonderful to get to know Peruvian students and really become a part of the university.
What was the housing like on your study abroad program? I lived with a host family (a retired couple) along with several other international students. Our family was wonderful, and I loved sharing meals with them and learning more about Lima. They were used to hosting students, and always gave us are space and were never demanding. I really enjoyed living with a family as a way to learn more about the culture and people of Lima.
What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students? I would advise future study abroad students to always keep their goals for the experience in mind - the time will fly by faster than you know it, and you want to accomplish what you came to do! This can include language goals, making local friends, or visiting certain places. It's always good to remember that there will be good days and less than good days, but all of the experience will be valuable. Find things that you love to do, be it music, sports, etc, and get involved with your host culture! I volunteered, took a salsa dancing class, and joined an international relations club at the university. Step outside of your comfort zone, and you will certainly be rewarded!
What’s your best memory from your time abroad? It's impossible to choose a favorite moment out of six months - I loved discovering new restaurants in Lima, hiking in the Andes during fall break, dancing on Friday nights at the university with my salsa class, and volunteering with English classes in the outskirts of the city. Also, some of the smallest moments - seeing the sun set over the ocean for the first time in Lima - are the most memorable.
What was your biggest surprise about the location, culture or other aspects of your program? I don't think it's possible to comprehend the size of a city like Lima until you arrive. Even more of a surprise was how we all adjusted bit by bit to the insane traffic and long commutes - I learned to embrace it!
Describe your experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock. My culture shock during my semester in Madrid and reverse culture shock coming home was much worse than my culture shock in Lima. I think because I wasn't expecting as much of a challenge in those places, it took me off guard. Culture shock and reverse culture shock can be hard to deal with, but I found that by staying in the present and engaging with people and places around me, I became less homesick (or Peru-sick, as was the case when I left!).
Discuss: “Going abroad vs. staying on campus.” The decision to go abroad for an entire year wasn't easy, but it completely transformed my undergraduate experience. My classes overseas complemented my studies here, and some of my best friends I made abroad. Study abroad in college is such a unique opportunity to engage with another culture for an extended period of time, and never again will it be this easy for us! Students never seem to regret going, and often wish that they had gone for a year instead of a semester.
What fact about your host country do you think people would be surprised to learn? I think that people are generally surprised to learn about the diversity of Peru - they automatically think of Machu Picchu and llamas, but in reality Peru has bustling cities, diverse rain forests, beautiful coasts, and of course the majestic Andes mountains.
How did you find scholarships for study abroad? I used the IU scholarships I receive each semester, and also received scholarships from the Hutton International Experience Program and the Department of Political Science.