Life in PerÃº is different to say the least. But always full of eventful days and exciting people. I live in an international house provided by the university I attend here, Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola. There are 5 flats in the house with a commons area on the roof, a tv room, computer room, and a nice little kitchen for us all. There are always people coming and going as the house is open to all students from every university so life in the house is never boring. At any given time, around 15-20 people live in the house. In my flat I live with a guy from Amsterdam and Puerto Rico but students from countries as China, Mexico, Germany, Colombia, Peru can be found here.
I only have class on Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays so it allows for lots and lots of personal travel however my program through International Studies Abroad have taken me to places as Cusco, Machu Picchu, Huaraz, Ica, Nazca and even to the Amazon Jungle. You can find pictures of my treks at http://picasaweb.google.com/andrewwarmath.
People here are very different from in the states. Everyone is trying to survive as the average salary is 550 soles a month with is roughly around 185 U.S. dollars. Despite the poverty there is still a since of pride in all the people of their country as they claim to have the most beautiful country in the world. While all the ecosystems are present in Peru, it is hard to argue with them. Peru is filled with jungles, deserts, snow-capped mountains, even miles and miles of plains, they do have it all. On a different note, the people seem to be very friendly and it always puts a smile on their face when they see “gringos” or Americans. Whenever I need help they always dont mind stopping 5 minutes and helping me out. However, while driving in the busy streets you would think otherwise. I am living in the city of Lima that has a population of over 9 million, and that means over 9 million of angry drivers. I would not believe it if you told me there are traffic laws in Peru. People are such crazy drivers here. They do not believe in lanes or even stop signs for that matter. If your car does not have a horn you are as good as dead. Instead of ever stopping at stop signs, people just honk their horns. Every time you pass another car, you honk your horn. Every time you see a person on the street, you honk your horn. There is no rhyme or reason to it, and it is not an angry honk but rather a sense of saying hello or hey I am behind you so dont put on your break. Usually something is wrong if you hear a honk in the states but if you dont here a honk every 5 minutes in PerÃº is usually means something is wrong.
Classroom behavior is different as well. All the buildings are very open with no doors or walls in the hallways to outside. Classrooms are always very loud because the windows are always open because of the raging humidity and heat. A cell phone rings every 10 minutes followed by a student walking out to talk on it, and the weird thing is, the teacher ignores it. There is actually such thing as Peru time, because Peruvians are always late. Even on test days it is not strange to see half the class walk in 45 minutes late. However, same as in the states, if the teacher is 10 or 15 minutes late you can guarantee no students will wait on their professor. The grading system is also very different with everything out of 20 at my university and most universities here. 16-20 is an A, 14-15 is a B, 11-13 is a C and 10-below is failing. There are no D’s and from what I can tell, people just want to pass courses as grades are not as important. When applying for a job it is more important what university you came from rather than what you did at that university to employers.
After 3 months in Peru the thing I miss the most is the food in America. Dont get me wrong, Peruvian food is very good, however it lacks in choices. There are only a certain number of ways you can cook chicken and serve it with rice and fries. I miss the good old American restaurants, milk, steak, even junk food for that matter. Peru does have American chains such as Burger King, McDonalds, Chilis, Fridays, and Tony Romas but the quality of food is terrible. The beef here is no where near as in the states. I really miss a nice steak. I have found myself planning my first day back home with what restaurants I am going to eat at the whole day.
Thats about all for now! I hope everything is going great for you back in the states and looking forward to joining you for the fall semester. Life is great in Peru but Im sad its flashing by! Make today a great one because you’ll never get it back.