Monday, June 13, 2016

Jeremy in Peru!

Hello everyone and greetings from Lima, Peru! I could definitely go on forever about my experience thus far, but I promised myself I wouldn’t write a short story. This semester studying abroad has been one like no other. Many of you reading this have already studied abroad, may be preparing for your own journey, or contemplating the entire possibility. After finally deciding on a country and a school to study at, you spend countless hours reading dozens of articles and watching numerous videos about life in your desired country. Well, at least that is what I did. And since the semester here at USIL in Lima did not begin until March 2016, I had more than enough time to prepare myself (maybe a little too much time). I hope you will enjoy a bit of my journey so far in Lima as I share with you a few of my humorous thoughts and give some (hopefully) helpful advice. 

Plaza Mayor. Historic Centre. Lima, Peru.

Living in Lima has been very different for me. You’re probably thinking, “duh you’re in a foreign country, what do you expect?” Consider this: it took me several weeks to get used to campus life, driving and living in Greensboro. Though not as big as Raleigh or Charlotte, it is still a larger place with way more people and traffic than what I am used to having in the ‘252’. You drop me in a city larger than NYC with nearly 10 million people, what do you think exactly happened??? Well not to worry! I haven’t had any panic attacks yet (#ThankYouLord!), but I will say that actually living in this city has surpassed what I could have ever imagined if I were only to have watched others' travels on YouTube. Although I am a brave person, I have to say that I am very fortunate to have four fellow Spartans here apart of the same program. It definitely eased the transition and the lack of us knowing each other went out the window when we all realized we were thousands of miles from home (and Chick-fil-A). 

Highest View of Lima, Peru
Arriving a couple weeks before school began gave me much time to get adjusted to Lima and the crazy traffic. Peruvians are very nice! (a little too friendly for my preference at first but I came around…if you know me than you understand lol)   The food here has been great thus far, but since I like to cook and save my ‘Tubmans', I don’t eat out much. BTW shopping here at first was a bit of a challenge, but you adjust to all of it. Though Lima holds much Peruvian culture, as the capital of Peru it is still very ‘European/Americanized’ in my opinion. How so? Well many food corporations from the U.S. are here, like Starbucks & KFC, as well as popular clothing stores, such as H&M. My early arrival allowed me time to explore the various districts of the city with friends and to also do historical tours. The best part was being able to plan early trips to other parts of Peru. I encourage you to travel outside of your residing city whenever possible to get different perceptions of what it means to be a native. Some places I have visited so far in Peru include Ica, Huaraz, and even a short time in Arequipa. I plan to do some more traveling (as much as my budget and schedule will allow)! 

Sandboarding in Ica, Peru

As I am sitting here reflecting, I realize I just missed my 90-day Insta’ post but this will definitely make up for it. I want to leave some advice for anyone who is considering or preparing for study abroad--in case we don’t ever speak in person:
 #1) If you get the OPPORTUNITY, take it! If I had not set aside the time to consider this chance to travel abroad this semester, I do not believe it would have come together so nicely. 
#2) The EXPERIENCE cannot be duplicated, so make the most of the time that you have. Nothing will be exactly how you are used to having it or how you pictured it in your head. Nevertheless try new things, meet some people, and make friends with natives and other internationals. Especially get to know the ambassadors (similar to UNCG Pals) on campus.  

Sandboarding in Ica, Peru
#3) Remember it is STUDY abroad, so take responsibility to maintain a nice balance of work and play. (Because we know that playing can get out of hand in another country where the laws may be more lenient and….Point made).  
 #4) BE YOUrself! I can’t tell you how many times people look surprised to know that I am from the U.S. (and not Brazil or wherever? My lack of Spanish skills at the peak of conversation probably gives it away LOL) Many Peruvians have even told me they are very honored to have us (gringos) think enough of their country to come and study here. Last but not least…
#5) This is YOUR DECISION! Pressure from the school, family, or friends to do what they may think is best for you, should not be the deciding factor. Like many major moves in life, you have to make up your mind how you want to spend this particular season of your life. One thing I believe is that when and if you make a mistake, you can always deal with it better by knowing that it was the choice that you made!

LIHC Dragon’s View from my apartment in Lima

I hope my account has been insightful and has made your day just a little better!

Lake Umayo, Sillustani, Ancient burial grounds just outside of Puno

Love, Peace, & Blessings

Jeremy J. Kirby
Universidad San Ignacio Loyola (USIL)
Lima, Peru