I don’t know if time moves faster in Peru or if I’ve just been very busy, but since I arrived in Peru on the 11th, the days have flown by. While at times they have been a little stressful, overall I have had a great time.
Although I had a wonderful time in my home stay in Jordan, I decided that I wanted to be more independent here and so instead I decided to live in a house with other international and Peruvian students. Everyone in the house has lots of energy, so there is always something to do and people around. One of the best parts of it is that everyone speaks in Spanish all the time, which is great practice. In Jordan, my friends and I were in the bad habit of speaking English a lot, but since I have been hanging out with people who have a variety of different native languages, almost all communication is in Spanish. The house is also near my school, the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP), which is quite convenient.
I came to Peru only a few days before orientation, so I didn’t do too much exploring. I still haven’t explored Lima all that much, but I have managed to make it to two beaches and a water park. The weather has been incredible, hovering around 80°F everyday. It has been especially nice knowing that if I was back in Madison, I would be suffering through a cold spring. I figure that it is best to take advantage of the nice weather as much as possible, so I have been outside quite a bit.
I have been surprised how much my experience in Jordan has affected my first impressions of Peru. In some ways, there are a lot of similarities between Amman and Lima (crazy driving stands out as well as cheap transportation and food). Also, the University of Jordan’s campus and PUCP’s are much more similar to each other than UW. Both are enclosed with a lot of green spaces, although PUCP does have the added benefit of deer on campus. However, on the whole, Lima is much more similar to the US than Amman ever was. For example, people in Lima dress just like people in Madison (at least when it is actually nice out), whereas in Jordan the dress was much more conservative. Lima also has sidewalks, so walking around is not only possible but popular. Part of the difference is probably due to the fact that I speak Spanish better than I speak Arabic. The barrier of communication that often existed in Jordan is much smaller here, which makes everything that much easier. I am sure I will keep comparing the two places over the next few weeks.
Last week we started classes. As exchange students, we had a week to try out different classes before enrolling. Because of this, I went to a bunch of different classes to check them out and make sure I had back-ups in case the ones I wanted were filled. Although I definitely went to a few classes that seemed pretty bad, I found four that seem interesting and have good professors. To be honest, I have been really impressed by the professors here so far. Several of them have gone out of their way to help us international students, which is reassuring.
On Monday, we had our final enrollment. It is quite a process here. For some reason, PUCP still has exchange students enroll in person. That means, we headed to the university a little before 7am to get in line. It was a good thing we went early because I was already number 86 in the line (they gave us tickets to mark our spots when we arrived). After a couple hours waiting, they moved us into classrooms to wait while the people at the front of the line enrolled. Finally it was my turn, and I was quite fortunate to get all the classes I wanted. By the time the process was over, it was already noon and I had missed a class. I can’t complain too much though because it worked out for me.
Since it is Easter this weekend, we have a longer break so I will be traveling with my housemates in Peru. I am excited to see a little more of the country, even though I still haven’t quite mastered Lima. I will be sure to update you on that trip when I get back!