Genevieve DeWalt – Peru

I am currently attending Markham College in Lima, Peru and I am living with my host, Ariana and her family. To say the least, my first two weeks in Lima have been unbelievably exciting, crazy, and all together, amazing. Lima is vastly different from the Bay Area. Although it has taken some adjusting, I already love it here.

IMG_3889IMG_3896The first thing that I noticed about the Peruvian culture was that everyone is extremely friendly and welcoming. Peruvians value hospitality more than any other culture I know. My host mom, Rosmery, immediately wanted to make sure that I felt at home and did everything in her power to make that happen. The next thing that I noticed was that Peruvians LOVE their food. The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of different Peruvian dishes, each one more delicious than the last. I know for certain that I will not go hungry while I’m here!

While Markham has many of the same values IMG_4141and principles as Athenian, it is entirely different. For starters, Markham is much bigger in terms of the number of students, and almost all of them have been attending the school their entire lives. The next main difference is that Markham is much stricter and more formal.  Everyone is required to wear a uniform and cellphones are prohibited. It took a while to get used to.  I definitely got lost many times during the first week, but now I feel like I have been here all along. The entire Markham community is very close-knit and everyone was very excited to welcome me into their lifestyle.

The largest challenge for me living in Peru has been the language barrier. Although most of Markham’s classes are taught in English, all of the students speak Spanish with each other outside of class. On top of that, my host parents don’t speak any English at all! It was difficult to communicate with everyone at first, but I am learning to be confident with my Spanish skills and have already improved so much.

IMG_3944IMG_4051Overall, my first couple weeks here have been so much fun. I have made so many great friends. I am so glad that I get the opportunity to experience firsthand the everyday life of a Peruvian student. Whether it’s meeting alpacas, learning to dance the salsa, or trying a new Peruvian dish, every day brings more surprises. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me for the rest of my exchange!