Clases y baile

This week is the first of the new semester here at PUCP. Already the atmosphere has changed: there are hundreds of students milling about, enjoying the sun, strolling to class and, most unfortunately, waiting in line at the copiadora to make copies of all the required texts. Yes, ‘copies’. Professors generally don’t teach from one textbook. Rather, you’re given a bibliography of suggested/required readings, and are expected to find the book, copy the specific passages, then return it to the library for someone else to rinse and repeat.

While I admit to being pleased at the savings –the equivalent of two months’ rent—I’m still quite preoccupied with actually obtaining the texts. Some are checked out, others are too long to legally copy, and the worst are those that are M.I.A.! Once I’ve got my schedule approved next week, I’ll be spending an awful lot of my weekends tracking down the readings!

Speaking of weekends, this past Saturday was my first spent in Lima…and it certainly didn’t disappoint. A lovely afternoon of shopping was followed by a night of drinking and dancing in Miraflores. I tried pisco for the first time (picture a softer, sweeter vodka flavor) and was pleasantly surprised by the recipe for the popular pisco sour. Essentially, it’s a whiskey sour with more lime juice, more pisco, and no whiskey. I’ve determined to try my hand at making them next weekend…my WAC friends know how fun that should be!

On the subject of dancing, there’s not much to say that could do it justice. Imagine putting every Shakira video you’ve ever watched, a David Guetta concert, and chunks of “Dirty Dancing” into a blender, pressing ‘pulverize’, then sprinkling the lot with an extra dose of sensuality. Welcome to the Peruvian smoothie discoteca.

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First Impressions

After arriving at the bustling Hugo Chavez airport, I met my amazing hostess, Olga, along with her siblings, Armando and Juana. Thankfully, I was spared the task of negotiating the taxi fare from the airport to my home (s/ 24), and now have an idea of how to go about doing it in the future.

Lima’s weather is rather warmer than that in Maryland (try going from 4.4C to 29.4C), but the beauty of its coastal setting is the ever-present breeze. In fact, writing this on the rooftop, I’m reminded of my family’s annual camping trips to Assateague.  De verdad, my new home is everything I could have pictured: bustling streets lined with colorful buildings, lush gardens housing cacti, orchids and flowering trees, as well as innumerable shops and restaurants. Although my lovely tour/shopping trip today seemed to take hours, it only covered a mere fraction of all that Lima has to offer; I can’t wait to see what else there is.

I’m realizing (rapidly) that my Spanish is at the “I’ll get by if I gesticulate wildly and nod” level. Already, I’ve picked up a few new words; hopefully, this rate of language acquisition will only improve, and I’ll be able to describe what a can opener is before I starve!

Tomorrow is the first day of my orientation at PUCP; I can expect a lecture on safety, a dreaded student ID photo-taking session and, of course, my first interaction with the new international students…how different to be on their (our) side of orientation for once!

Here We Go

Seven days from now, I’ll be landing in Lima to start my fabulous semester at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP)!! Am I excited? Of course! Am I terrified? Obviamente. But hey, that’s why I’m going to have a fantastic time.

For the past few months, I’ve been doing a lot of research about Peru: checking out guide books, talking to people who’ve been there…generally abusing the #peru tag on Tumblr. And while I can say that I’ve prepared, I’m totally confident that my arrival at Jorge Chávez will be accompanied by an overwhelming excitement (and nervousness)  that will temporarily negate any and all research I’ve done. That’s okay, because I am excited and I am nervous. I’ve been ‘international’ before, I’ve been a student forever before, but this is the first time I get to do both…shouldn’t I be nervous? I’m going into this as prepared as I can be, but I’d be foolish if I thought I knew what to expect.

 That isn’t to say I don’t have expectations for this semester: I plan to improve my Spanish; I anticipate seeing some of the most wondrous, mysterious ruins in the world. Most important, I expect to return to the US a transformed person. We read a lot about study abroad, and folks generally take an all-or-nothing approach: either it’s a transformative experience, or it’s not. But here’s the thing: transformation isn’t something that one can avoid. Every new person met, food tasted or epic adventure hiking trip taken transforms us, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. After four months of meeting, tasting and adventuring, I can’t wait to see what my transformation will be.