English major and Spanish minor
I chose Peru because it is a place that is rich with history, archeology, and natural wonders. I was also excited about the courses in Peru because they offered 20th century literature specifically from Peru. And, of course, I wanted to go to Machu Picchu, which I will finally get the chance to do this weekend!
Through ISA, I am in two Spanish grammar courses and two Spanish literature courses. As such, none of my classes are in English! Since Spanish is my minor, this immersion is helping me a lot with my fluency, although being surrounded by other American students does tend to hinder my social progress with the language. The literature classes are taught by a very passionate professor, and I’ve found that, to my surprise, I understand most of what we’ve been reading.
I am improving my Spanish skills and my ability to understand the written Spanish language. I’ve also been exposed to many important Latin American writers whom I had not previously known a lot about– I think that Pablo Neruda is becoming one of my favorite poets!
On a personal level, I am growing more than I ever thought I would. Being thrown into such abnormal circumstances and being surrounded by a different language and way of life has crucially altered my perspective on my own life. So far, I’ve befriended several Peruvians, but I’ve also gotten the chance to meet travelers from all over the world. This past week, a group of us from ISA traveled to a beach/desert called Paracas, and there, we befriended Irish, Brazilian, and English travelers. Getting the chance to meet so many different kinds of people was pretty
unexpected. In Peru, I’ve learned a lot about traveling and
about how to best hone my creativity as well.
In general, the transit system in Peru can leave one feeling very uncomfortable and even unsafe. If you’re not completely aware of your surroundings and your belongings, people will take advantage of that– I keep all my valuables zipped close to my body and in front of me where I can see them. The bus in general is a strange and loud place because there is always a money collector who yells to people on the street in rapid Spanish about where the bus is going. It took me several weeks to finally be able to pick up on what the money collectors were saying. I have to always be aware and listening while on the bus– I can’t use Google maps to find bus lines or bus stops, I have to rely on my own intuition and listen very carefully to the money collector.
Studying abroad will end up being one of the most important experiences in your life if you haven’t done it yet, no matter where you go. I’m very grateful to be having this experience!