The first days
Finally the day of departure came. But very excited I spent a few hours on the plane on the way to Lima. There I was met by a taxi driver my landlord had sent me. When I left the airport with him, I was so happy to have someone who knew where to go. But very tired I got into the car and let the first impressions of Lima work on me . I arrived at 7 in the morning so that I could see the rush-hour traffic in the direction of the city center and the bank districts. And I was shocked by the traffic and especially the driving style of the Peruvians. After more than 1 ½ hours I came to the apartment in San Isidro that I had previously found and rented online. My landlady greeted me and showed me the apartment and introduced me to my roommates. At this point it turned out that for the most part of my next few months I would be living with other German exchange students and interns.
Now the first official part of the semester abroad came , the Orientation Day. All exchange students of this semester had been invited and we were given all the information, the university was shown and we got to know Peruvian students who looked after us, the so-called “buddies”. Finally we got our timetables and you could change one or the other course. That day went by too, and until the lectures officially started, I had a few days left. So I drove for a few days with my flatmates to a small village in the Andes, about 2 ½ hours from Lima. According to Top-Mba-Universities.com, this place was called Lunahuana and actually there is nothing there but a couple of wineries and a river where you can practice water sports. We chose this place because a wine festival was to take place there this weekend. The first day we enjoyed the very hot weather and looked around the village, which didn’t take too long, and decided to eat.Here I ate my first Peruvian menu and also tried the infamous Inka-Cola . The weekend went by very quickly, we went rafting on the river, visited a bodega (winery) and went to the wine festival in the evening. Here you got to know the Peruvian culture very well and the people there were very fascinated by a bunch of Europeans and so it was a very entertaining evening for both sides.
When we returned to Lima after this weekend, I was told that the university would begin. So I went to university and was very excited to see how the first lectures would go. In my English-language courses we were around 25-30 people and the number between exchange students and Peruvians was balanced. The professors explained what they value in their lessons and what the goal of the semester is. It quickly became apparent to me that this semester would be different than in Germany. We should get together in groups on the first day, in which one should do projects and small chores for the entire semester. In addition, every 2-3 weeks there were so-called “quizzes” in which the previous topics were queried and which were graded and included in the final grade. We were also informed about the mid-terms (intermediate examinations) and finals (final examinations) as well as our final presentations; this was the case in business courses, of which I took three, always around the development of a business plan, here we should always present our intermediate results, which were also included in the grading. All this information gave me an inkling that the semester would not only be fun, but that there was also a lot of work hidden in it. In the course of the weeks I got to know the university life in Lima and the work ethic of some Peruvians.
With all the new impressions, people and places that you got to know, it seemed to me as if time was passing me by. So the time for the mid-terms had already come. I was able to get this over with quite successfully without much effort. The semester went on as before, only you had to slowly take care of the completion of the business plans, which was a bit chaotic at times. Finally, the last week of lectures came and the final presentations were due. I was able to get them all over successfully. The professors said goodbye to us and wished us good luck in our finals. Slowly it was time to say goodbye to the first exchange students who were about to leave and I also noticed that the time in Lima was slowly coming to an end.
I had only booked my return flight to Germany for mid-August, the semester was already over in mid-July, and had planned to explore the country a little more and visit the places that I couldn’t visit during my semester. So I made another 3-week tour through the south of Peru . This was very exhausting as the cheapest and easiest way to travel through Peru is by long-distance coach, but it also allowed me to see the most impressive places.
During my semester I had already taken the time to travel to Puno, Lake Titicaca and Bolivia with a few friends. This was a very fascinating trip and we saw very impressive landscapes (the islands on the lake, Copacabana, La Paz, Salar deUyuni – a salt desert). We also flew to Iquitos for a week and had our first experiences in the jungle. We also looked at smaller places on the weekends, such as Nazca with the Nazca Lines, Ica with the Huacachina oasis, Paracas with the peninsula full of penguins and other animals , the beach town of Mancora and on the Easter weekend Huaraz with a multitude of mountains for trekking and the for me rather confusing Easter processions.
So at the end of my semester I was still missing places like Arequipa and Cusco. So in my last three weeks I visited Arequipa and the Canon de Colca, Cusco with the Valle Sagrado and all the archaeological sites in the area and of course Machu Picchu, which was really one of the most fascinating and beautiful excursions for me. From Cusco I drove again into the jungle to Puerto Maldonado to see if there was any difference to Iquitos and to enjoy the tropical weather again before going back to the foggy Lima.
Before I went to Peru, I had already read and been told that the winter in Peru was quite unpleasant, especially in Lima. I could hardly imagine this as it was said that it would be at least 14 °. In retrospect, however, I can only confirm these statements, even if it is not really cold, it is still very uncomfortable. The air is very humid, there is often a drizzle all day and the sky over Lima is always gray from mid-May to September. In my last three months in Lima, the sun only came out on one day. Otherwise it was always gray, foggy and rainy.
Lima in itself is probably not the most beautiful city in Peru, but over time I have grown very fond of it despite all the gray days. It is very varied and has everything you need to offer . There are countless bars where you can have a drink every day, countless restaurants where you can get everything from Peruvian specialties to very good American burgers. The nightlife in Lima is also very diverse . You have some student parties, you can go to salsa clubs, but there are also some clubs that play rock or hip-hop. So there is something for every taste and you should definitely not miss the nightlife in this city, as it is simply too very strongly reflects the Peruvian culture .
Ultimately, it can be said that before my stay in Peru I was never in a country that is as diverse as Peru. The landscapes there are incredibly beautiful and it was a wonderful time for me. The Peruvians are a very open-minded people and very interested in other cultures and enjoy talking to people from other countries. The people are always very friendly and you just feel good .
At USIL it is also very easy to get to know new and nice people, from other exchange students to Peruvians. The attitude towards life and the atmosphere in Peru is unique and the landscapes can hardly be described with words and pictures. I would recommend everyone to do a semester abroad in Peru and at USIL, as it is simply a unique and unforgettable experience that you will never forget.