Monday, January 25, 2016

Staying Positive

My first two weeks in Peru have been interesting. Time feels like it is going by so slow and I feel like I've been here forever. Everyone told me that the first two weeks would be the hardest but for me I think it will be the first three. Right now we have a lot of free time which makes me want to stay in my room all day and do nothing. It is hard to force myself to get up and do something when I don't have any plans. I say that the first three weeks will be difficult because things won't really pick up until then. Our first extended trip will be this weekend in Huaraz, Peru, it is by a national park where we can go hiking. And the weekend after that is when our spring break starts and almost all of us are planning to stay at a beach house in Mancora (which supposedly has the best beaches in Peru). And then after that we will have a better schedule of all the trips we will be taking so I think that will help with the lack of motivation to do anything. Last Friday we took our first trip out of Lima and went to Matucana, Peru. There we took a trail and hiked up a mountain to find a waterfall. It was so beautiful there and my favorite thing we have done in Peru so far. Getting out of a big city for the day was nice, though, it was a two hour bus ride and got pretty car sick (so we'll see how well I handle the eight hour bus ride to Huaraz this weekend). I am trying to be more present and stop thinking so much about what I am going to do when I get back. I have realized that I need to force myself to be positive so that I can explore as much as I can and take all of the chances I get so that I won't have any regrets when I leave. My time here is completely dependent on my attitude and I am choosing to embrace this wonderful opportunity to explore a new country.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The First Week

This has been a stressful yet eventful first week. We got into Lima late on Wednesday night. My host brother and his mom picked me up at the airport. It wasn't until we were outside that I realized I was in a foreign country by myself with two people I had just met. I was terrified. But my host family was very welcoming which put me at ease. By the time we got to their house it was about one in the morning and I was exhausted so I slept well the first night. Waking up was difficult because I realized I would eventually have to get out of bed and come to terms with the fact that I will be living here for four months. But from then on things have been getting easier. My family is very nice and understanding. My host mom does not speak any English so it is difficult for us to communicate but she has a daughter and a son that both speak English pretty well so they help me when I need it. Their aunt also lives with us so it's like I have two moms here, which is nice, although she does not speak English either. On the first day my host mom showed me how to exchange money and took me to the store across the street. Later that night when my host sister got off work we went for a walk and she showed me how to get to UPC. The next day we had orientation at UPC and got a tour of the campus. It is much smaller than UNK but more beautiful. There is a little "river" that runs through the middle of campus, a building covered in plants, and an outdoor study area with beanbag chairs. After orientation we explored Lima a bit, walked to El polo, which is an outdoor mall near by, and later took a bus to Jockey plaza, which is probably the biggest mall I have ever been to. The next day a few of us took some taxis to Miraflores, another district in Lima where our professors from UNK live (we live in the district Surco.) They took us to Larcomar (an outdoor mall overlooking the ocean), pizza street (a very popular area for nightlife) and Kenedy park which is filled with stray cats and kittens (personally my favorite part of the day.) On Sunday I relaxed with my family and that afternoon they took me to Barranco (now my favorite distract) to watch the sun set over the ocean. Classes started Monday and it doesn't seem like they will be too difficult. Although the schedule will take some getting used to, we have 4 classes a week, one each day Mon-Thurs. for 3 hours. On Tuesday we all went out to eat dinner in El polo at Pappas grill and we were all very excited to find out that they have ranch (which is hard to find in Peru.) And today Ahnika and I found a little cafe that serves amazing ice cream so we will definitely be going back there soon. It has been such a fun first week and I can't wait for many more to come!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Night Before

This past week has been stressful. From running to the store to get last minute things for the trip, figuring out what to pack, and saying goodbye to family and friends. I am incredibly nervous but also very excited to spend the next four months in Peru. 
It hasn't really hit me yet that I will be flying out of the country tomorrow. It feels like a normal night, like nothing eventful will happen tomorrow, and I will go back to UNK soon. I have had many mixed emotions about going to Peru. Some days I felt as though I couldn't do it anymore because I was too scared and other days I was so ready to go I would've taken a flight out that day. Right now I think I may be so overwhelmed that I don't feel anything at all.
This past week I have been very anxious. I'm not scared to live in a different country. I'm not scared to live with people I have never met before. I'm not even worried about getting too homesick. I think my biggest fear about studying abroad in Peru is the language barrier. Yes, I have taken all of the required courses and I have been taking Spanish classes for a few years now. But I still feel as though I am unprepared for this experience, that my Spanish skills will not be enough for me communicate with my host family or other people I may meet in Lima.
Though, after spending a few weeks with my host family I am sure I will pick up on the language quicker than I think. With that being said I am very excited to meet my host family tomorrow, learn about Peruvian culture, improve my Spanish speaking skills, and explore all that Lima has to offer!