Warning: Does Not Contain Pictures

Hellllooooo Faithful Blog Readers!

This post was requested by my mother and father since I “promised a post about school” and “some of your readers are wondering if you actually attend classes.” To which I responded “Drat, they’re on to me.” But I’ll be honest with you and say that mostly the only reason that I’m posting this is because I don’t have all the pictures that I need of my Amazon excursion to post a blog yet. And plus, who wants to read about school when I’m doing all sorts of other fun things like swimming in the Amazon river?? (yes, it happened. yes, there are pictures. yes, there will be a post)

I am attending classes even though – to be completely 100% honest – I’d rather be traveling. Peru is this huge amazing country located in an even larger more amazing continent known as South America which contains an abundance of countries. Each of these countries is wonderful and unique and *must see* in its own way and there is just no way I’m going to see it all because I have to sit in lecture. But I digress. Instead of crazy fun adventures, today I’ll write about a typical day for me. From beginning to end.

6am: wake up and promptly go back to sleep

6:45am: actually wake up and perform morning rituals (shower, getting dressed, deodorizing, hair combing etc etc)

7-7:30am: eat breakfast and walk about 8 blocks to the bus stop. If you’re wondering, I specifically take this route:

Turn left from the house, cross Calle Juan de Arona, Calle Chichon, and Calle Antequara. (Note: Calle is pronounced Kai [rhymes with high]- yay)

Turn left on Antequara and cross Calle Sebastian Telleria.

Turn right onto Calle Manuel A. Fuentes and cross a bunch of streets that I don’t pay attention to but at the corner of Antequara and Manuel A. Fuentes, there is a little Lassie type dog that sometimes barks at me. Occasionally I bark back. This confuses Lassie and makes me smile.

Manuel A. Fuentes at some point turns into Paseo Parodi and I walk on that until I find Javier Prado which is this huge street. (we all know from experience that I’ve gotten lost trying to find huge streets before, but so far I’ve managed to find Javier Prado)

Cross Javier Prado (this could take ages depending on if la Policia are controlling traffic or if the stop lights are)

Turn left once across Javier Prado and walk about 3 blocks to the bus stop.

7:30-??: attempt to catch a bus/combi going to “Todo Universitaria” or “La Catolica.” Both mean the same thing to me because if the bus is going to “Todo Universitaria” (Translation: All of Universitaria Avenue/Street/Whatever you want to call it), it will eventually hit “La Catolica” which is the common name for the school I attend. The process of catching the bus/combi really depends on my mood. If I’m in a bad mood or if I have some time to kill, I will try to wait for one that doesn’t look like a rolling sardine can that is only slightly larger than a regular sardine can (if you’ve ridden a combi, you know that this is actually a pretty accurate analogy). If I’m in a good mood or running late, I just look for one going where I need to be going. This is easier than you would think. Most buses/combis have an operator that stands at the door and yells destinations of the vehicle. And if you see/hear one that is going to the right place, you just signal to the operator person and most of the time they make sure the bus waits for you to get on.

So what is a combi? Well that depends. It can be a tiny itty bitty mini van-turned-public transport OR it can be a school bus type thing that picks people up and then rockets through the streets of Lima. Sounds safe, right? Frankly, once I get on a combi, I have to stop thinking about safety. Everyone here drives like a crazy person and combis really aren’t much more than bus seats wrapped in an aluminum foil cage with hand railings bolted to the ceiling. Most doors don’t even close all the way. But BONUS, if you’re lucky enough to sit in the front seat (shotgun, for my Midwestern readers, passenger seat for people who don’t know what shotgun means) you get a seatbelt. Whoa.

Ideal spots on the combi are A) the seats, B) standing next to the door, C) standing next to an open window. A) should be obvious. B) the easier to escape at your stop, the better. C) crowded combis are hot and the breeze offered by the open window is not to be squandered. Spots that no one wants are A) the back, B) the back, C) the back. Seriously, when everyone is packed into that combi, the last person you want to be is the person in the back trying to get up to the front to get off the bus. It requires forcing everyone to squish uncomfortably close to people that they probably don’t know at all.

All this being said, riding a combi is a right of passage for Lima travelers. For the people here, it is a way of life. But I firmly believe that everyone visiting Lima should ride at least one combi. So you can bet that when my family comes down here in June, I’m finding a semi-full combi and squashing them all into it. 😀

Ok so I’ve taken the combi to La Catolica.

Now it’s time to get into the school. I flash my PUCP (school) ID or if I don’t feel like getting my ID out, I just tell the bored guard that I’m an intercambio (foreign student) and head in. SUCCESS. I HAVE ARRIVED. BOOM.

On days that I have time to kill, I go somewhere that my phone will find wi-fi then proceed to be a bump on a log until class time. OK NOW LETS PRETEND ITS CLASSTIME

Walk into class, pick a seat in the back-ish. Its harder for people to stare at me if they have to turn around. I can usually count on my professors to be 5-10 minutes late so I get some last-minute Pinterest- I mean class-related reading- in.

I listen to the professor talk for an hour or two, taking notes faithfully (I’m a good student, guys, I swear)

Once class ends, I typically have time to kill so I head to Tinkuy (this large building with lots of study space, food court etc) and buy a couple ciabatta rolls from La Panaderia (literally translates to The Bakery) for lunch later. Then I head upstairs to the study areas to catch up on reading and hang out until my friends are free for lunch. I eat with them, attend another class, kill more time, attend more class. Then I go back. Basically, the combi journey is the same as before, just in reverse. I look for combis going to “Todo Javier Prado”

On Tuesdays, I get back to the house pretty early, around 2 if all goes well. On Mondays and Wednesdays though, I have a night class and don’t usually get back until 8-9:30pm.

I eat dinner, merp derp around for a bit, catch up on homework and stuff then go to bed.

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That was a day in the life. 😀 It is a modest existence, but an interesting one.

Just so you know, I really do welcome comments on this blog and anywhere. If you want to message me on Facebook and chat about my blog post or life in general, please do. I love hearing from the States. It makes me feel a little closer to home. ❤

COMING SOON (theoretically) Amazon post. Also, I am going to Cusco and Machu Picchu NEXT FREAKING WEEK!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. We leave on Wednesday morning. I HAVE SO MUCH EXCITEMENT!!!!! I feel like Agnes in Despicable Me with the unicorn toy “ITS SO FLUFFY I’M GONNA DIE.”

I’ll make an actual Facebook post about this but – as of now – I’m going to be volunteering in Cusco from Monday the 27th until possibly May 4. This means that I will be celebrating the big 2-0 in Cusco! Super exciting, yes, but also potentially problematic. I do not know what cell signal/wi-fi strength is like up in the mountains so there is a chance that I will not be able to respond to birthday posts on my wall or texts. I am still very appreciative of these, and I will respond to them upon arriving back in Lima. Or maybe I’ll have beautiful cell service and amazing wi-fi speeds, in which case, I’ll answer them in Cusco. We shall see.

Lots of fun and exciting blog posts are coming soon! OH and if you want comment below (or message me on Facebook) if you have blog topic requests. Something I haven’t covered yet, something you want me to talk more about, things that I didn’t clarify or whatever you’re curious about. Since most of my weeks are your basic “school, home, school” on repeat, I find it a little difficult to come up with something that I can get excited about enough to post about. So give me ideas!

I hope all is well with you and yours. Have a wonderful spring time and I hope that you enjoyed today’s journey From Lebanon to Lima. Ciao!

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Post Pertaining to Paracas

Paracas was this crazy adventure that a group of us decided to go on. It was our 2nd weekend out of orientation, our first weekend after classes had “for real” started and – I don’t know – maybe we wanted  to exercise our freedom. We did plan ahead, you don’t just go into an adventure totally unprepared (plus I’m a worrywort. So of course we planned.) Anywho, we made reservations at the Kokopelli Paracas hostel and booked spots on PeruBus, left after classes got out on a Thursday and came back on Sunday sunburnt and exhausted but with plenty of memories. This is the tale of that adventure, broken into anecdotes for easier digestion.

Arriving – The Sketchy Saga

We bused into Pisco after dark (probably around 9:30-10pm) and were immediately confronted by a taxi driver offering to take us wherever we wanted to go. He agreed to take all 6 of us to Paracas so we shoved into the equivalent of a 4 passenger Subaru and were off. Please keep in mind the following: none of us knew exactly how far Pisco was from Paracas. We didn’t know what the terrain looked like because it was dark. We didn’t know what type of roads to expect. We didn’t even know exactly what the hostel looked like. Ok. Now tell me that you have complete and utter unwaivering faith in my judgement :). No? Ok probably good. Spoiler alert: we all lived. But that doesn’t change the fact that at the time we were in an unmarked taxi with a man who claimed to be a taxi driver and who we were trusting simply because we weren’t likely to find a better option. I’m sure that everyone was thinking basically the same thing “we are going against every warning ever given to us in orientation about using taxis. *insert favorite expletive here*”

The road was bumpy, the driver stopped to get gas (aka major red flag, but Fallon assured us that the fuel gauge was on E), and the way was poorly lit. (Turns out we skirted Pisco and took some cock-a-mamie back way to Paracas. The taxi ride back into Pisco on Sunday was much smoother). We finally got to the hostel and breathed a huge sigh of relief.

But our night’s adventure wasn’t over.

Ok so I’m pretty well known to be an avid animal lover. If I came with a warning it would say “WARNING: Still as obsessed with animals as she was in 3rd grade.” Anyway. I love dogs. I also know a fair amount about doggy behavior. So when we were standing outside of the hostel in the middle of the night and all of a sudden I hear loud, aggressive barking, I kicked into high gear. We all did, pushing each other through the door and hoping against all hope that if it bit one of us it wasn’t rabid. Luckily for us, he was friendly and greeted the hostel manager with a lick of the hand and friendly tail wag. Crisis averted, I proceeded to make friends with him, an action that shocked no one. This is Charlie. He’s a 2 year old mutt of some sort and mouthy, but in a puppy kind of way.

The Bear

 *side note* I do not claim to have any knowledge of the true origin of half the things I say. I just grew up hearing them. So for those of you who do not know, in this context, when I say “The Bear” I’m not referring to Baloo or Smokey. I’m referring to a headwind.

The town of Paracas is home to the Paracas Natural Reserve. (Note on April 19, 2015: I recently learned that the Paracas Natural Reserve is the only part of the Peruvian coastline that is protected despite the fact that the Peruvian coast is comprised of some of the most productive marine and coastal ecosystems, according to the World Wildlife Fund website) It is located approximately too far to bike into the Bear from the little itty bitty town. Since the wind was too bad for tours to the Ballestas Islands to go out (this should have been our first hint), we decided to rent bikes and see the park. The bikes were dropped off, we got some vague-ish directions from the hostel and set off. The wind didn’t seem too bad at first. We rode out of town and stopped to take our first “holy crap we’re in the middle of nowhere” pictures.

You’ll notice I’m wearing flip flops. This shouldn’t shock you.

We went along the paved road for awhile and were truly introduced to the Bear. While it kept the heat off, it did nothing to prevent the sun from scorching our skin (we had heard that the sun was much stronger in Paracas, still don’t know why, but I can testify that it is definitely a bad place to run out of sunscreen) and didn’t make biking any easier. Some of my readers (family, I’m looking at you) have had the misfortune of witnessing me when I decide that all I want to do is sit down and melt into the floor- preferably in an air conditioned locale- in the middle of a bout of exercise. If you haven’t witnessed this, consider yourself lucky. It is not pretty. Luckily, my fellow travelers didn’t experience the most extreme version of it. But I was doing some major dragging. I vocalized the idea of going back multiple times especially when we didn’t immediately find the beach we were looking for. On the way to said beach though, there were some decently pretty vistas and an ICE CREAM MAN.

Catherine and Erin cooling down after climbing a hill.

Catherine and Erin cooling down after climbing a hill.

If you look on the sign, we were headed to Lagunillas Beach.

So this was all pre-beach. The beach was, admittedly, gorgeous. Was it worth the 3+ hour bike trek into the wind through sand and sun? EHHHHHHHHHH yeah, mostly.

Almost standing on the edge of the world

Almost standing on the edge of the world

Lagunilla Beach

Lagunilla Beach

These people are great <3

These people are great ❤

Seagulls in flight

Seagulls in flight

We hung out for awhile here. As you can see, it was beautiful. What you can’t see (or rather feel) is the amazing breeze. We walked around the beach, then ended up sitting and just enjoying each other’s company. At this point, Erin realized that her hands were so sunburnt that they were dark red. For fear of sun poisoning, we moved into the shade of a small shack near the beach. The problem we faced was another hour-plus bike ride back in the same sun. Erin, Catherine and I decided to stay back and try to catch a taxi. This was more difficult than it seemed. First of all, we were in the middle of the fracking desert. Second of all, there was zip, zero, zilch, nada in terms of cell service, so we couldn’t call. Thirdly, the map that had had the bike rental number on it had blown away shortly after our adventure began so even if there was signal, we didn’t have a number to call. Luckily, a large white van full of tourists showed up so Catherine and I went over to learn what we could learn. We talked to the driver, explaining that we needed a taxi for 3 girls and 3 bikes but couldn’t get a call out. He said that there was signal in the next place he was driving his tourists to and that he would call a taxi for us. We thanked him profusely and went back to wait. The other 3 of our group began the bike ride back to the hostel in Paracas. Interestingly enough, the shack we were using for shade had some pretty large bones in front of it (for decoration, maybe?) Anyway, I have NO idea where they found these bones or what they are a part of, but the anatomy nerd in me was both fascinated and terrified by them. So of course I took some pictures. 😀

Erin waiting for the taxi

Erin waiting for the taxi

Our temporary refuge

Our temporary refuge

Vertebrae with my drawstring bag for size comparison

Vertebra with my drawstring bag for size comparison

Huge vertebra and some skulls, and various other bones

Huge vertebra and some skulls, and various other bones

Still amazed by the vertebrae

Still amazed by the vertebrae

Skullssss mwahaha

Skullssss mwahaha

look at that collarbone :D

If you can’t tell, I LOVE BONES. THEY ARE SO FASCINATING. Did you know that there is a tiny little divot in the top of the femur (the part that connects to your hip) called the Fovea Capitis? Well now you do and you also know that it is my favorite part of any bone in any body. Also femurs are my favorite bones, because they are crazy strong AND *bonus* can be used as clubs in times of adversity. 🙂
I’m getting back to the story, I promise. This black van showed up after about 30 minutes and the driver somehow managed to shove all 3 bikes into it and drive us back to the hostel. No more biking for me for awhile, needless to say.
Kokopelli: Hostel Fun
Kokopelli is gorgeous and I found that I really enjoyed hostel life, though I later found out that Kokopelli is a very high end hostel so I need to try more hostels before I decide to love them. When we arrived the first night, the room we had booked was under construction so they upgraded us to a room that slept 8 people (the room that is pictured below sleeps 14) for our first 2 nights. I was going to try to explain the dynamic, but I can’t find the words right now, so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Paracas is in a desert, after all

Paracas is in a desert, after all

For my flower-loving readers

For my flower-loving readers

Restaurant/bar area

Restaurant/bar area

Reception room art

Reception room art

Pool area art

Pool area art

Beach right outside the hostel

Beach right outside the hostel

Erin taking advantage of the hammock situation

Erin taking advantage of the hammock situation

Welcome to the 21st century

Welcome to the 21st century

Art in the computer room

Art in the computer room

Yes, that is the ocean.

Yes, that is the ocean.

Sparrows in Kokopelli

Sparrows in Kokopelli

There were 2 happy hours each night so we tended to have one drink (or two) between 6-7 then wait until the 9-10 happy hour to continue the night, because we are nothing if not cheap college students. The restaurant menu consisted of exactly zero rice, and the only noticeable Peruvian item was the tequeños (kind of like mozzarella sticks but the cheese is wrapped in a fried wonton wrapper and you dip them in guacamole…. delicious). THEY HAD BACON HERE (I miss bacon, seriously I dream about it) but it was kind of expensive so I just got the burger that came with bacon and let that satisfy me.
Another interesting observation to note is that the employees at the hostel were not required to be able to speak Spanish. In fact, most spoke English better and I think that one of the employees didn’t speak Spanish at all.
On our last night at the hostel, we were invited to play Flip Cup with some of the other hostel-goers. We of course said yes and so began a night of camaraderie between Americans, Europeans and Peruvians in this little seaside town called Paracas. It was actually a lot of fun. Flip Cup didn’t last that long, it dissolved into just hanging out and talking, enjoying a drink with new friends that we will probably never see again.
Las Islas Ballestas
Translation: The Ballestas Islands. Otherwise known as the Peruvian Galapagos. (the real Galapagos are part of Ecuador) They have long been on my Peruvian Bucket List and I was beyond excited to finally get to see them. We all wore hats because some traveler reviews had warned that hats were a necessity because of the high probability of getting pooped on by the birds. Downside to the hats is that it was also really windy (we were on a speedboat on the Pacific) so we had to constantly hold our hats to our heads as is seen in the following pictures.
Catherine and I on the boat

Catherine and I on the boat

Twinning like a boss

Twinning like a boss

Also the wind blew my hair into an obnoxious tangle because I STILL HAVEN’T FOUND HAIRTIES HERE. ug. Anyway. The boat ride out to the islands was beautiful, we got to see the Candelabra which is this shape in the sand (pictures below) that some people think is related to the Nazca Lines. There is some discussion on whether it is a cactus or a candelabra, but either way it has been helping sailors find Paracas and port for a very long time. They still use it as a point of reference today. Below are some pictures of – lets be honest – water, sky, sandy coastline and the Candelabra.
IMG_0209

Candelabra

Candelabra

Candelabra

Candelabra

Leaving the Islands

Leaving the Islands

Some fun facts about the Ballestas Islands
1. POOP!!!!
2. No seriously, guano is a major Peruvian export and apparently is great fertilizer
3. They harvest guano from the Ballestas Islands every 6-7 years (it really builds up)
4. When they aren’t harvesting guano, there are people (kind of like park rangers) that are there to — wait for it, I couldn’t pass this opportunity up — guard the shit. Can you imagine having that job? Someone asks you what you do for a living and you say “Oh yeah, I guard crap. Literally”
5. I think I’m hilarious.
6. There are apparently a lot of guano poachers because the guano is pretty valuable, so crap guarding is a full time occupation.
7. There are 2 named sea lion beaches on the Islands. Paternity Beach and Maternity Beach
8. Paternity Beach is where the males go to fight for females and the females go to find mates
9. Maternity Beach is where the females go to give birth and care for their young. Also, the boat didn’t go close to Maternity Beach, whether by design or on accident, I don’t know. But I thought that it was a very respectful gesture to guarantee the safety of those sea lions in particular
10. Sea lions use their flippers to climb onto rocky outcroppings for the express purpose of sleeping.

Rachel with some sea lions

Rachel with some sea lions

Paternity Beach

Paternity Beach

Maternity Beach

Maternity Beach

Juvenile sea lion

Juvenile sea lion

Look at the baby on the left!

Look at the baby on the left!

Port for guano collecting

Port for guano collecting

Crabs

Crabs

Penguins

Penguins

My Friend the Pelican
This was a Facebook post, but I will gladly tell the story again because it appealed to my love of ornithology and HOLY CRAP I SAT NEXT TO A PELICAN. Yeah that is basically the entire story. 🙂 Well, no. But, yeah. Some random guy caught me watching the pelicans because how often do you see such magnificent birds up close? He beckoned a pelican away from the flock with bits of food then got it to hop up on the little brick barrier. He motioned for me to sit as well and then fed the pelican as I sat literally right next to it. I tipped him a couple soles and went on my way. BUT OMG I SAT NEXT TO A PELICAN.
Countryside Beauty
As previously mentioned waaayyy in the beginning of this post, we arrived in Paracas at night. Thus we didn’t really see much of the landscape on the way down, which was a total shame. But we took an early enough bus that the countryside was visible on the ride back to Lima on that Sunday. And it was gorgeous. Granted, I am partial to landscapes containing not-buildings (yes “not-buildings” I was sick of saying countryside), but I think that you can all agree that this is beautiful.

"Love Peru"

“Love Peru”

It was amazing to finally see some of the beauty outside of Lima. The city is beautiful in it’s own right, but this type of scenery is what I truly love to see.
OK! That’s a wrap, guys!!! I’m sorry that it took so long for this blog to get posted, shout out to Kobe for being totally awesome and asking when I was going to post this and thus proving to me that he does read my blog and might actually enjoy it a little bit. At least he notices when I don’t post. Baby steps. 🙂 There will be more posts coming soon hopefully so until then, I hope that you were satisfied with today’s journey From Lebanon to Lima. Love, Taylor ❤

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Ok so I lied… Part 2

PART 2!!! In the end, it was my inability to leave Part 1 without a Part 2. So here you go, readers. A compilation of “short” stories and adventures from my first few weeks in this beautiful new place. I’ve included TL;DR (too lazy; didn’t read) at the end of every story for those of you who didn’t want my blog posts to be long. 🙂

The Climb

On Facebook, I posted the picture you see >>>> with a promise to post the full story eventually.

Ok so what happened was I was really excited to go all the way up to the top of the tower because I thought I was doing really well getting over my fear of heights. Well the way up to where I took this picture was approximately too many open air steps (you know the ones without backs? They’re just slats suspended between railings? Yeah). Anyway these open air steps wind up a few floors. Graciously, every 20 steps or so, there was another floor, at which point I was like “YAY I’m at the top!” only to discover that I definitely wasn’t. And I mean, one side of these stairs is just the open center of the tower, great for falling off of. I don’t trust my own feet (because I trip on flat surfaces) so I couldn’t not look down as plenty of people advised me. So I just see the safe ground dwindling below me and I was like “holy crap my thighs are going to be killing me tomorrow” (they did) and also “holy crap I’m going to die” (I didn’t) and also “This view better be gorgeous” (it was). So I finally crawl my pathetic butt to the top (I resisted the urge to actually crawl to preserve some dignity) and the view is magnificent. It made me forget completely my fear of the climb and the fact that I’d have to go back down. There was a wonderful breeze and I was with my friends and everything was wonderful. We spent some time up there (postponing the inevitable descent). But what goes up must come down. So down we went. At this point, looking at all of those terrifying stairs with not enough room for clumsy error, I was seriously considering the infamous and completely dignity-destroying “butt go” (for you who do not know my slang, I was considering scooting down each stair on my butt. Beautiful mental image, I know). I resisted the urge, but only barely. About halfway down the way too many stairs, my right leg decided to have a twitch-fit. So I’m taking each stair one at a time. Painfully slowly, and all the ATP buildup in my leg just lets go in muscle spasms. Lovely. A little further down, I stopped and let some more of the group go ahead of me so that I could hyperventilate a bit. I finally got to the bottom and resisted the urge to actually kiss the floor.

TL;DR– I actually am afraid of heights but the view was beautiful

Finding Arequipa

Arequipa isn’t a person, its the name of an Avenue that I use to basically get everywhere. Now you’re probably thinking “well, Taylor, if you use this road so often, you must know exactly how to get to it from your house.” Yeah, no, I don’t.

Well, I do NOW. But when this story occurred, I didn’t. Apparently. Considering I spent 45 minutes finding it.

So I had made plans to go out with some friends in Miraflores and meet at Larcomar (an outdoor mall). I needed to take the bus to this place so I set out with confidence that I could find my bus stop. I did find it. But the walk – that now I’m proud to say takes me an average of 3 minutes (traffic depending) – took me 45. Yeah. Everyone who knows me isn’t surprised. I use a GPS to get around PETERSBURG freaking Illinois. I should have brought Yoda (the name of my GPS, it is) with me to Lima. But I didn’t. So I walked around and eventually asked a friendly serenazgo (local police officer) which way to go. He pointed me in the right direction and I confidently went on my way. Until I didn’t find it right away. I walked past construction sites that I had never seen before, past office buildings that I’m still not positive actually exist or if I was just hallucinating, finally finding Antequera (a road that I knew could get me back home). At this point I was just going to go home and text my friends. But then I got confused on which way I needed to turn off of Antequera to get home. (it is totally ok for you to smack your head at how pathetic I am). Luckily I met a little lady watering grass (stay tuned for the completely irrational and inconceivable use of water rant) who was all nice, understanding and who I’d like to think was thinking “oh you poor lost American” but was actually probably thinking “are all Americans this fracking dumb?” She pointed me in the right direction and gave me a landmark to look for. It was seriously 5 blocks BACK the way I’d come…. *sigh* I trusted her and BAM. Arequipa.

TL;DR– I spent 45 minutes looking for the most important street in my Lima existence (but not in the existence of all of Lima)

At the Zoo

I haven’t actually been the a zoo yet. So this story takes place on my first day at La Catolica (campus). I had been on campus before but not when the traditional students were there.

Some background info: Back in the US, I would say “OMG I’m so white” because I do something like Instagram my mocha frappe with some TSwift lyrics. But here, in Peru? It means something different. Not bad, necessarily, but different. And I am very white. If it weren’t for my American accent and the fact that native speakers can tell that I’m still trying to learn the vocal patterns of Spanish, it would be because of my very blonde hair and pale skin. I AM TANNING HERE. But not enough. I will never be tan enough to pass for Peruvian. That is the reality of the situation.

So I walk onto campus and seriously, I have never felt as much like a zoo display. This is coming from a girl who has lip-sung and danced to Frozen in public on a snowy day completely alone, a girl who has – on multiple occasions – given speeches she wrote literally seconds before in front of people she has never met (#hearusroar), a girl who wore a prom-style dress to Denny’s with 4 of her best friends on a night that was not prom night, a girl who finds embarrassing herself for the entertainment of others to be perfectly ok.

The experience served to remind me that being watched is different if you’re trying. If you aren’t trying to get someone’s attention, or if you’re doing something that warrants no additional attention, it takes on a different light.

I didn’t see anyone I knew for a while so I hung out in a central location (not great for avoiding stares) to increase the likeliness of that event. Eventually my friend Catherine showed up. Apparently she had been just as freaked by the campus size and everything as I was. We were so happy to see each other that we hugged and basically hung out most of the rest of the day.

TL;DR– I was stared at because I’m white but I found a friend so it is ok.

Spiders

I love spiders. But when you’re in a strange country, certain caution must be exercised when you discover a mother spider and her tiny offspring living in a web on your door. I found her in the morning and was kind of freaking out. Because of my love for spiders, I didn’t want to kill her. After the research I did and the fact that I could NOT sleep thinking of all those freaking spiders crawling over me, I did end up killing her and the babies. (For the record, my research proved inconclusive. It is very likely that she was harmless) I also fretted over the impending murders for a long time before I committed the crime. So yay! Peru is turning me into a spider killer.

TL;DR– I killed innocent spiders. I hope you’re happy, Kobe. 🙂

That is all I have for today, my lovely people. I have a few blog ideas festering so please keep checking back. Also I’m doing some traveling in the upcoming weeks so soon I’ll be posting more pictures and adventure stories. I hope that you enjoyed today’s journey From Lebanon to Lima. Ciao!

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The Last Week of My Obnoxiously Long but Totally Awesome Christmas Break

Hello my lovely readers. My second week in Lima was also known as The Last Week of My Obnoxiously Long but Totally Awesome Christmas Break. On Monday, we met at PUCP for an orientation with Claudia- she has some fancy title but basically she is who all the little “intercambios” (exchange students) go to for help. Claudia gave us about a 30 minute presentation about PUCP and how classes are set up, different things that PUCP offers such as (and this is awesome) no classes on Thursday afternoon. Thursday afternoons are reserved for campus wide arts demonstrations, cultural booths, musicians come and play. Basically its awesome. I can imagine spending many an unnecessary Thursday there… Unless of course I’m traveling, which I also hope to do a lot of. We (the group) then found ourselves with a considerable amount of free time. We walked around campus, grabbed lunch and met up with one of the patas at 3, which of course (because buses don’t have a schedule to keep) made us about an hour late to our discussion back at the Miraflores office about the Peruvian education system. Luckily the discussion wasn’t open to anyone else and Lali didn’t give the presentation to the walls, so we were able to catch all of it. J We learned that Peruvians do a lot of group work and that the entire group gets a single grade. One of the IFSA students of course mentioned “well then no one is going to want to work with the gringos because our Spanish isn’t as natural. We’d just bring down their grades” which technically makes sense. So that shall be another adventure and probably part of another blog. Stay tuned readers.

On Tuesday we met the group from Colorado who had been at the university for awhile already. They were getting ready to depart Peru for some other South American country that right now I can’t remember. We split into teams of 3 or 4 for an IFSA vs Colorado SHOWDOWN!!! My team was made up of Galen, Samuel, Erin P and yours truly. We called ourselves Team Quemado (Team Burnt… because we all had sunburns. And also because we were going to scorch the competition HAHA!) Well Team Quemado burnt itself. We got second for creative group pose.

Equipo Quemado

Equipo Quemado

But then after that, it was mostly downhill. We still had fun though and of course, in the end the “perfectly and accurately tallied scores” showed that we had tied. Everyone got little freebies and the pure joy of playing with an adorable little gray pitbull puppy that was in the park with its owners at the same time we were.

Andre with the puppy

Andre with the puppy

We made our way via taxi to a restaurant in Barranco called Rustica. Rustica is kind of a chain buffet restaurant that serves authentic Peruvian cuisine. It was all delicious. We had the afternoon off so I decided to walk back from the office to Parque Kennedy and do a little shopping/ picture taking of the cats that live there. Easily my best purchase so far was a little leather (probably faux leather) coin purse for S./12 (12 soles) or about $4USD. For your enjoyment, here are some pictures of cats that just live in and around Parque Kennedy.

Hi Camera, I'm Cat!

Hi Camera, I’m Cat!

They are all strays but some time ago a group of people started feeding cats in the park. Eventually they came in droves and live what appears to be a fairly comfortable existence. At least 90% of them are friendly and approachable. Which – if you know me at all – is exactly what I did.

Wednesday was NGO Day. The NGOs are groups that we have the option of volunteering with for our required 72 hours this semester. Or if you want to branch out, you can do research and find a different organization to volunteer for. As of right now, my plan is two-fold. I can (and fully plan to) knock 40 hours out in one week by volunteering with ADENAR and living in a small town near Cusco for a week. ADENAR is a program for women and children living in high risk situations. I’m not positive what I’ll be doing there, but it sounds like a great program in which I can make a wonderful difference. Taylor’s plan part 2 is to branch out and find a different NGO. There is a program specializing in people with disabilities about 3 hours south of Lima and I am currently in talks with the director to see if I can help out in any way. I will update you all on that when I have been updated on it. After NGO presentations, we had a stress workshop which was basically just the stress talk you get in high school, college etc about what stress is, how to identify it and how to combat it. So we suffered through that and then everyone went their separate ways.

Thursday! We had an orientation thing at PUCP where we went around and mingled with professors of different subjects and learned more about campus. The goal was to kind of get an idea of what classes you’d want to take and get face time with those professors. Ask them specific questions about the course, introduce yourself, etc. After that was over we had the afternoon free. I used it to catch a bus back to San Isidro with Alex and take my laundry to the laundromat. Laundromats here are strange. You drop your clothes off and then the employees wash, dry, and fold your clothes for you at which point you pick them up. Mine were ready by 2 the next day. Pretty cool but also kind of weird. So I guess don’t expect to be on your LAST outfit before you do laundry. Because then you might be in trouble. Lol After dropping my laundry off, I piddle pooped around the house being basically as in effective as humanly possible. We had a double decker MiraBus tour to go on at 6:30 so I had time to kill. A few of us decided to grab a drink beforehand, which of course turned bad because no one knew exactly what was going on. But it ended up being pretty awesome. We got to the little bar at about 6:05, took our time (since we knew 6:30 was the earliest possible time we had to be there) and made it back in plenty of time. We even had a 15ish minute wait until they let us on the bus. The bus was… totally touristy but kind of cool too. I believe that most of the group (myself included) spent the tour talking to each other and not necessarily paying attention but that was ok too. We saw Huaca Pucllana, which are ruins in Miraflores, and we stopped at a fountain park where we were allowed to get out and look around. All of the fountains were beautiful but there was one that you could play in. Lali had told us to bring extra clothes for this purpose but only 4 of us went into the fountain. And yes, I was one of the 4. After much squealing because I really didn’t want to get wet, but still. I got into the fountain. And it was a lot of fun. Study abroad is one of those occasions where everything is an opportunity that you may never get again so you really just have to go for it. And – for better or for worse – that has been my motto. So I played in the fountain. Had a blast. All that jazz. The tour went on for awhile longer but – since I wasn’t paying attention – I don’t remember a whole lot of what they were trying to tell us. Oh well. When we got back to Parque Kennedy, a few of us went out for drinks. It was a fairly low key night and I got back to my house at a reasonable hour.

FRIDAY!!! Friday was a free day. Andre, Catherine and I decided to walk down to the rock beaches that are typically full of surfers. It was a long, agonizingly painful walk full of so many freaking stairs that I don’t care to see another stair for the rest of my life. J It wasn’t actually that bad. Lima is coastal but above sea level and situated on a cliff. So to actually get to the beach, you have to go down a ways. Its undeniably gorgeous but the trek is not for the faint of heart. Once we got down to the beach, we walked along the way a little bit, trying to find a surfer free area. Not as easy as one might think. We got asked repeatedly if we wanted to rent surfboards and learn to surf. Kind of cool, and surfing is definitely something that I want to try someday but the general consensus is that Lima isn’t the place to do it. So I’ll wait until I’m somewhere like Hawaii or Fiji. Who knows. We only spent about 10 total minutes at the beach and yes, it was spent taking selfies and by me being fascinated with the little crab exoskeletons that were every where. Unfortunately they are crazy fragile so they wouldn’t survive any sort of travel. So in my memory they will have to stay. We trekked back up the thousands of stairs and went to the outdoor mall called Larcomar for ice cream to reward ourselves. Because we definitely deserved it. By that point, plans were in the works for another night on the town so we all went back home and got ready to go out again.

PSA- you’ll notice a general theme of my adventure is that I don’t stay in very often. Going out? SURE. Going out again later? MOST DEFINITELY. You don’t make friends sitting in the house. 🙂

I got very lucky with the host family that I was put with. They have 2 kids close to my age and so they understand that a fairly important part of social lives happen at night. I just keep my host mom aware of my location and all is right with our worlds.

So anyway, we went out dancing Friday night in Barranco then came back to Miraflores to finish the night at the open air bar. Much fun was had by all, many memories and new friends made, quite a few toasts toasted.

Saturday I woke up around 11 to my phone informing me that plans were again being hatched for a day and then a night on the town. I met up with some friends at Parque Kennedy and we took a bus to Barranco in search of the Burrito Bar, which one of my friends had read about. After some searching, we found the Burrito Bar. It was down this mildly sketchy street and a total hole in the wall. But those are the best places and we were all starving and unwilling to go somewhere with better lighting so we stayed and ate. It was wonderful. Pure burrito bliss. And I’m more of a quesadilla person. But you know what they say, when in Rome – eat burritos. J The place didn’t have wifi (not a lot of places do) so we found our way back to Starbucks to figure out our next move. (Starbucks does have wifi). We met up with some more friends there and explored more of Barranco before heading back to get ready for the night. Saturday night was more low key. Just a couple bars. Not many drinks. No dancing. A very casual night on the town.

On SUNDAY I set my alarm for 8 so that I could get up and shower so my hair had a prayer of being dry by the afternoon. Then I fell back asleep until about 11. My host family was having a birthday party for my host grandma so I got to meet lots of cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. Pretty cool. The meal was barbeque. It was very different than American barbeque. One thing in particular that I’ve noticed is that the meat is always very well done and sometimes done too well. That is taking some adjusting since I typically have my meat medium rare. Regardless, it was fairly delicious. After my time at the party was finished (that is to say that I helped with dishes and participated in minute conversation as the kids [even older kids] are seen not heard) I went back to my room and set my tentative class schedule. Classes for the traditional students start tomorrow. For the exchange students, it is our lottery week. Basically I just get to hop from class to class that I might like to take and then next Monday (the 23rd) we actually sign up and begin attending class for real.

So. That was a lot of information, probably not enough pictures. I apologize. The picture heavy posts are coming, I promise you. If you aren’t my friend on Facebook, I encourage you to add me. I post on there occasionally things that don’t make it back to the blog. I’ll probably be back next week to let you know about the crazy first week of school-ness. Until then, my friends. I hope you enjoyed today’s journey From Lebanon to Lima.

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I’ve Officially Been Here For A Week

Hola todos! Ok so I’ve officially been in Lima for a week. This post is going to be one part list of cultural differences and one part raving about how much I love Lima. [Disclaimer: I am not good at math so the division may be off. It is likely that each part of this blog will not be exactly the same length]

PART ONE! Culture.

  1. Shoes in the house. In the US, typically you don’t wear shoes in the house. It is common courtesy to take off your shoes to avoid dirtying the floor. Well, here it is the opposite. I got a lot of really weird looks from my host mom when I started walking around the house without shoes on. I haven’t figured out the reason behind this, when I asked my host mom’s mom she just said it was what they do. So there you go, readers. Why do Peruvians wear shoes in the house? Because.
  2. Lunch is a huge meal, kind of like dinner in the US. Dinner is basically irrelevant and breakfast is only slightly larger. Typically breakfast consists of some sort of bread with jam or eggs. (It has for me anyway. All host families are different). Dinner typically isn’t much. Some bread and butter with a small piece of meat. For me, though, it is different because my family lives a fairly busy existence and it is rare for everyone to be at home during meal times. So my host mom prepares food obnoxiously early in the morning and puts it in the fridge for everyone to eat when they have time.
  3. Defining “cold.” Peruvians do it wrong. Lol. Not really. Defining “cold” is and always will be a regional thing. So it really doesn’t surprise me that Peruvians tend to think that 65 degrees Fahrenheit is cold. Also, we all know that my definition of “cold” is different even from some of my friends in the US so this probably shouldn’t surprise you. 🙂
  4. Personal space. If you absolutely hate touching people, don’t come to Peru. Touching is a required part of society. When you meet up with a group – even if there are 15 people in the group – you go around and kiss everyone’s right cheek and give them a small embrace. They return the favor. When you leave the group, you repeat the process. This goes for people you have never seen before and may never see again. You might think that you can just shake hands with new people, but that is considered the height of rudeness. So if you’re ever in Lima, please don’t do it. It is very American to either A) try to shake hands or B) only kiss the people in the group that you know well. Avoid doing either of these things if at all possible.
  5. Personal space. IF YOU ABSOLUTELY HATE TOUCHING PEOPLE, DON’T COME TO PERU. Besides the kissing part, buses, combis, streets, bars, stores…etc are often crowded to the point of everyone just kind of mushing together. So touching is inevitable even if you choose to be the rude American that shakes everyone’s hands.
  6. Drinking age is 18. Yes I’m writing this blog for McKendree and yes I am fully aware that McKendree is a dry campus that does not promote the consumption of alcohol. HOWEVER I’m not going to pretend that I’m sitting in Lima and not taking advantage of that situation – drinking is an aspect of culture here and for me to omit that part of my cultural experience would be wrong.  I am totally taking advantage of the drinking age here. But don’t worry, I’m being safe. I’m not a complete idiot (despite what the color of my hair may have you thinking) and I do know when I need to stop. And yes, I am enjoying it. And look, I didn’t start drinking in Lima just because the legal age is 18. No. I drink (and I say that lightly because I’ve only really gone out a couple times and I don’t drink all day everyday just because I can) because I have found it to be an enjoyable activity.* And just so you know, in Peru, blondes do have more fun 😀

PART 2: LIMA IS AWESOME

Ok. I am the ultimate country girl. I have never taken a bus by myself, never spent more than a week in any major city and I’m used to needing to drive everywhere I go. So this was new experience all around. It didn’t come easy at first. But in the week that I’ve been here, I have grown ten times more confident in myself. Yes, I did make a lot of “fake it until you make it” and “act like you know where you are going” attitude adjustments. However, not much compares to the euphoria of getting safely to your destination. Regardless of how long it took or how much back-tracking you had to do, getting there is an amazing feeling.

Lima night life is amazing. And yes, I suppose that if I had grown up in the city, this might not have been as much of a discovery. But I didn’t grow up in the city so discovering night life was like unwrapping presents on Christmas. It is just so. Much. Fun. Our patas helped us find bars the first weekend. On Friday night, we went to a bar called “El Jardin Secreto” or “The Secret Garden.” Basically we just sat around, drank, and talked (well, yelled. It was very loud). I might have gotten a little tipsy. But my friend Alexandra and I managed to get home without a hitch. Saturday night Thais (a pata) took a group of us to a dance club in Barranco. We stayed in the club for awhile (but long enough for me to discover my inability to dance the salsa) before leaving and taking a combi back to Miraflores. In Miraflores, we continued the night by going to an open air bar. We left when the bar closed at 3:30am. We then grabbed some McDonalds, called taxis, and went home.

Lima is beautiful. While it may be that some areas are less secure than others, the beauty of the city is unmatched. It has that wild, untamed domesticity (yay for oxymorons!) going on. There is terrifying beauty to the hectic traffic, the crazy drivers and the road signs that are more often than not taken as suggestions. (minor exaggeration here. Most drivers obey stop lights. But there are some signs they ignore. Like lane markings) The coast line is magnificent. All hills and ocean and green magnificence. Lima never sleeps, to my knowledge, but I do. I sleep often. Because the sun and all the walking make me tired. Here are some pictures of the more beautiful things in Lima. More to come, of course, but here is a sneak peek of where I’m currently calling home.

Coastline from Barranco

Coastline from Barranco

Coastline

Coastline

Seen on the walk from Miraflores to Barranco

Seen on the walk from Miraflores to Barranco

La Plaza de Armas, Lima

La Plaza de Armas, Lima

Panorama taken from the top of a tower in El Convento de Santo Domingo

Panorama taken from the top of a tower in El Convento de Santo Domingo

Plaze de Armas, Lima

Plaze de Armas, Lima

Miraflores looking off the coast into the city

Miraflores looking off the coast into the city

In other blog related news: I asked you all on Facebook if I should shorten my posts and you said NOOOO!

You have unleashed a very wordy beast, my friends. But it is entirely your fault. You have no one to blame but yourselves. However, I still feel obligated to let you know to prepare for long blogs. Also, I made a post called “Ok, so I lied… Part 1” and promised you an “Ok, so I lied… Part 2”    Well, that isn’t happening right now. Depending on how I feel it may never happen so if you have enough OCD that its going to bother you, please comment on this post and I will do my best to scrounge up Part 2. 🙂

I so enjoy writing for you all, and it is my greatest hope that you enjoy reading what I have to say. I also hope that you enjoyed today’s journey From Lebanon to Lima. ❤

*If you have concerns with what I’m saying regarding alcohol, please let me know and I will message you privately so that we can have an adult conversation about it. Please and thank you 🙂 Also, in this aspect and any others that may arise, please respect my freedom to write about sensitive topics. I will always always listen if you come to me with concerns about what I’m writing. I very rarely write about things of a sensitive nature but when I do, I proof read multiple times to ensure that I have handled it in a professional nature. But you have a right to talk to me if what I say makes you uncomfortable and I respect that.

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Ok, so I lied… Part 1

Hello Readers!

I lied. I lied because I said that I wasn’t going to post again until I was comfortable enough with Spanish to switch back and forth with ease. I’m not. And yet, here I sit, writing to you. Mostly because I have some things that I want to say but also because I don’t know how much time I will have to blog once classes start on the 16th of March.

Anyway. So when you last read this, I was getting ready to fly out of Miami. I’ll give you a whirlwind tour of the days you have missed. (all 2 of them) <— speaking of this – SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED IN 2 DAYS. I can’t believe the time has been that short. I feel like I’ve been here at least a week. Pero no.

In Miami International Airport (MIA, if you’re wondering… also an unfortunate name for an airport if you ask me, since it also means Missing In Action… anyway. I digress. Back to the good stuff. 🙂 ) I met up with two other girls in the program. We didn’t sit near each other during the flight but we met up afterwards and went through immigration, customs and baggage claim together once we landed.

During the flight, I sat next to an older-ish (mid to late 60s, I think) man who had been a Spanish teacher in a university in Tampa for 30 years. He had just retired and was returning to his family in Lima. Super cool. Anyway, he helped me practice my Spanish during the flight (which is why I didn’t take any anti-nausea meds and was miserable through most of the flight. Oh well. Se la vi).

After we passed customs, we met up with Laura (the Peru Resident Director) and two patas or buddies (patas is another word for amigos) and about 5 other American students. Most of the students left to go to the hotel but I stayed behind with another girl and the patas to wait for 2 other students that were arriving on a later flight. We made small talk in Spanish – haarrd, when you haven’t practiced for ever and they speak quickly – and drank some bottled water sin gas. (without bubbles. Carbonated water (agua con gas) is more popular and available here than it is the US.) When the other two had arrived, we all grabbed our numerous bags and left the airport.

Lima is beautiful at night. Unfortunately, neither words nor pictures can do it justice so I’m not even going to try. If you live in the city, you know that strange ‘never sleeps, everything neon’ beauty of nightlife. If you live in the country, go to a city. 🙂 Laura told us that after that night we wouldn’t be allowed to speak English (that was kind of a lie, because we still speak English among ourselves but we do speak a lot of Spanish). So the four of us spoke rapid fire English for the duration of the trip.

If you’re wondering— Lima has KFC, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Papa Johns… lots of American fast food.

I was exhausted on and after the flight to Lima but the drive and conversation woke me up and I could barely sleep once we got to the hostal. I slept from about 2 am until 6:30 am and got ready for the day. I went to breakfast with one of the girls who shared my hostal room (there were 3 of us). The hostal director served us fresh squeezed orange juice and some sort of bread with butter and jelly. I also had some coffee, which was delicious. I need to find out how to make it like Peruvians do because Peruvian coffee is my favorite coffee. Its different… But different good. 🙂

PART 2 of “ok, so I lied” will be coming soon. But I am so freaking tired right now so I’m calling it an early night. 🙂 I hope you enjoyed today’s adventure From Lebanon to Lima. Ciao!!

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The Journey Begins

Hello all! The first wing of my trip has commenced and I write to you from sunny Miami. My first flight in forever went well. No major complaints here! I didn’t realize how fast we were going. You would think that, being 30,000 feet up and going 980 mph, the ground below would be an indecipherable mess. But it wasn’t. It barely looked like we were making any progress at all and I probably wouldn’t have noticed much until we started flying out over the Atlantic in Florida if it weren’t for the little screen that I set to show the location of the plane. Being slightly claustrophobic, the plane ride wasn’t the best way I would have chosen to spend 2 hours, but it was definitely the most efficient. I cannot argue with that. We got to Miami 10 times quicker than I would have ever been able to manage by car. Still, I am grateful for the layover. It gives me time to write this, find food (it’s expensive!!!! Thank goodness mom remembered to have me pack American dollars and not only the Peruvian sols), and unwind from the tension accumulated during the flight. Unfortunately, it also gives me time to dread my impending flight, which is 2 hours longer than the one from Chicago. Maybe I’ll be able to sleep on this one, though, I’m definitely tired enough.

It’s been awhile since I posted so I’ll summarize the last few months in relation to the trip:

I procrastinated packing to the extreme partly because that’s who I am and partly because in the time that I decided I was going to pack, sickness swept the house. It was a rough couple of weeks and I did a lot of extra resting to ensure that I wouldn’t be sick on my trip.

I worked. I was attempting to accrue as much fun money as possible so that I could at least start my time in Peru without worrying about money.

I threw myself a going away party (with lots and lots of help from my parents and brother). Mom and I attempted to make some Peruvian style dishes including ceviche-salsa, quinoa salad and the Peruvian national beverage-the pisco sour- for our guests who were 21 or older. The party went very well despite the 3 inches of snow we got earlier that day.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for today. I expect to be posting again within a couple weeks because I need to take a break from English for awhile so that Spanish can become more natural to me. I will post as soon as I feel comfortable transitioning between languages. 🙂 I hope that you all enjoyed this journey from Lebanon to Lima, adios!!

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A Somber Post

Hello Readers!

As McKendree’s spring semester begins and as the days dwindle down until take off, I was faced with something quite unexpected. Homesickness. Not for my home and dog, as many associate traditional homesickness with, but rather for McKendree. More specifically, the life I enjoy there.

Now, I’m not totally ignorant. I’ve known for quite some time – since I began freshman year, in fact – that college life and home life are drastically different.

However, until faced with the prospect that my friends would be enjoying campus life without me and the realization that they were also mostly the only friends that I could be myself with, I was in no way prepared for the tsunami of homesickness. I pined for McKendree, and hated myself for being so friendless that I couldn’t find A SINGLE PERSON within a 30 minute radius –in my own hometown in which I spent the first 18 years of my life, no less– to spend my free time with. The knowledge that my McKendree family was a 2 hour drive south was literally tear inducing. (Translation– I cried about getting a longer Christmas break… I’m weird, it’s better that you know now.)
In short, I was lonely. I love my parents, I love being home. But I also love living on campus, going out and staying out until 3am, McKendree Mondays at DQ, running around the suite with my suitemates, unintentionally staying up till the wee hours of the morning talking about nothing eminently important, spending countless hours studying and practicing and laughing in the Cave, going to Clio meetings in Circuit Riders, walking campus, stopping by Clark in the hopes of catching a rare glimpse of the insanely busy Sarah Klucker, laughing at dumb jokes with my best friends, and making plans as the thought of them occurs.

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My Suitemates ❤

 

 

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Kappa Lambda Iota sorority (Clio) in Circuit Riders

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Part of the McK Speech Team #hearusroar

 

 

Maybe this is a testament to McKendree and how much the campus has claimed me as her own. Or maybe this is a common occurrence among soon-to-be-abroad students. Honestly, I don’t know. But I do know that I never expected pain this real and I fear that time will not heal this wound. Though I’m sure being in Peru will help. 🙂

All this being said, I am not a naturally sad person. It is only when I let myself dwell on my loneliness that I truly feel it. I love my life and regret very little. This struggle will undoubtedly make me stronger in the long run and eventually I’m sure I will be grateful for it.

Thanks for reading and I hope you join me for the next trip From Lebanon to Lima.

 

 

 

 

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Anticipation Post #2

Hello Readers!

Well, I’m a little more than 2 months out from my trip and I’m back in my hometown for Christmas break. Everything still appears to be normal with some exceptions. 1. My Pinterest board “Here be dragons” is filling with Peru, Lima and general South America travel pins. There is so much to see. 2. Because of said pinning, I’ve been asking for extra hours at work and seeking a second job. Completing a bucket list takes money, unfortunately. 3. I’ve begun my long put off desire to re-read the Harry Potter series. As of this morning, I have finished book 3 and decided that of all the horrors that befall Harry specifically, the fact that he never really gets to know Sirius as a godfather is the most tragic. I also love Sirius Black, so I may be biased. 4. I just got my plane ticket confirmation! I’ll be flying from Chicago to Miami to Lima then in July from Lima to Miami to Chicago. Also, my savings account is about $1,000 lighter after paying for said flight. The people at Advantage Travel were super nice and made the process really easy, which was a relief. Because the prospect of flying is scary enough without actually having to figure out which plane I was getting on. EEEPPP

Good news though, I’m EXCITED!!!! Genuinely excited. And this is huge because for awhile when asked, I’ve said that “yes of course I’m excited” without ever feeling it. But now it’s real… Well more real than before. So yay!!

If you watch The Big Bang Theory (or if you don’t), please consider watching or reading the script for series 6, episode 5. In this episode, Howard has just returned from space and won’t shut up about it. He can turn anything into an anecdote about space. Now, I reference this both as a warning and as an apology. I highly anticipate that that “annoying, won’t shut up about space” person will be me about Peru. I’m apologizing now for later. Also, know that when I am annoying you, please just tell me. I hate being that person that is super annoying but no one tells them so they keep being super annoying. (we all know at least one) Don’t let me be that person. Tell me. I won’t hate you 🙂

That is all for today, folks. Have a very happy holiday season and I hope that you enjoyed today’s trip From Lebanon to Lima.

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Anticipation Post #1

Hello, all. I write this from my dorm room at McKendree, which I share with 4 of my closest friends. We all just got back from Thanksgiving break and there are only 2 weeks of coursework remaining before I’ll be packing what remains of my belongings from the dorm and moving out.

I have been asked to write a few words on what I’m feeling, how I’m reacting to knowing that such a large change is on the horizon. Well, I’m speechless. I have a countdown on my phone that says that I leave in less than 3 months, that I return in 7 months. My roommate pointed out to me that in 10 months, I’ll be able to say “I’ve been to Peru. I’ve lived in Lima”

Frankly, that seems impossible. This time next year I will have gone and returned from an adventure on a scale that words cannot fathom. I will be returning to “normal” or my new equivalent of the term. And that is something that I haven’t fully accepted yet.

Another aspect of trip preparation that I have yet to experience is when the concept “hits” me. Or when I actually realize that this crazy venture of mine is coming to fruition. One of my Spanish classmates studied abroad in Costa Rica during the summer. She told me that the knowledge of the trip didn’t really hit her until she was boarding the first plane. As of now, I can attest to some truth in this. I feel like I should be panicking a little more, considering the challenge ahead. But I’m not. As of today, I’m completely calm.

In some ways I both eagerly await and dread the moment that this trip “hits me.” I know that it will be a moment of great emotional discovery and that my perspective will change completely. My friends will likely witness a sudden onslaught of texts and phone calls all consisting of my grand realization. And this blog will hear the cut, edited and shaped version of said discovery.

Until next time, readers. I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s journey From Lebanon to Lima.

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