I’ve officially been in Peru for three weeks now. At first, despite all the excitement and newness, the time still seemed to move very slow. Now that I’m more familiar with some of the unique local characteristics and I have a bit more grasp on everyday Spanish, it’s hard to believe that I’m over halfway through the program.
I already feel some of the personal growth from being abroad and I’m excited to reflect on this more in a few weeks. But for now, I have definitely learned to temper my own perceptions and expectations of what it would be like to study abroad. It has been more difficult, tremendous, and beautiful than I could have imagined. Connecting with my host family has also been more challenging and rewarding than I could have previously predicted. As of this week, we have really broken down some of the cultural barriers (largely limited vocabulary on both of our parts) and next week, we are finally going to cook together. Upon their request, I’m going to teach them to make quiche—a dish they once had while traveling in England but is rare to find in Cusco. I really enjoy cooking and I’m thrilled to get to share that with such kind and caring hosts.
I have also been working on striking a balance between my creature comforts and routines with the all the new changes of living in Peru. For me, this meant finding a yoga class taught in both English and Spanish, indulging in some familiar desserts (like chocolate croissants), and eating sushi. At home, these are a mainstay, and I don’t feel particularly strange about having them in my life. In Cusco, these things are available, but they are an accommodation for tourists. Thus, I think it’s important for me to be aware that though they are comforting to me, it’s not necessarily a fully authentic outlet for actual Peruvians. It’s important to find a balance and acknowledging this helps me to intentionally seek other experiences that are more customary and unique to Cusco. Though this was never given to me as advice before studying abroad, it has made the transition (and my own expectations) easier, and I have more stamina to be curious and engage in more things that are unfamiliar. As our professor would say, “¡Así es la vida!”
The city itself has had a shift from the endless celebrations. It is a bit quieter, the plaza and the markets are more manageable, and there is generally the air of reserve. After a full month of parades and parties, it’s interesting to adjust to the more realistic personification of the city. It is certainly still a bustling city but there’s another side of tranquility. The end of all the festivities has aided in my own prioritization efforts. There are so many Incan ruins and historical sites just outside city limits. Yet, with the heart of the city so full of life, it felt tricky to get out and explore more. Finding the time to push outside the bounds feels a bit simpler now and there are future plans to visit some other notable features like the Maras salt flats, Rainbow Mountain, and Sacred Valley. Tomorrow our class is off to Machu Picchu for the weekend, and I can’t wait to see it.
¡Hasta la semana que viene!