My time in Peru went by faster than I ever thought possible. On one hand it seems like just yesterday that I was going to my first day of school at Markham, but in other ways it feels like a lifetime ago. Either way, saying goodbye has been one of the hardest things that I have ever had to do. The bonds that I have made in Peru have become far deeper than I ever could have imagined, and I now have friendships to last a lifetime.
Honestly, it hasn’t quite hit me yet that I am not still living in Lima and that I won’t be joining my friends at Markham when school starts back up after their winter break. But for now, I can say with complete certainty that the past seven weeks have been the best of my life. My Spanish has improved immensely and I have learned so much about the Peruvian culture. I learned to love the welcoming kisses on the cheek and friendly smiles that I received every day. I even learned to love the insane traffic in Lima!
Each person that I met and friend that I made touched my life in his or her own unique way. Every day brought new surprises and new challenges— all of which made my exchange that much more exciting. Being forced out of my comfort zone to try new things made me learn so much about myself and the world around me.
One of the highlights of my trip was my second-to-last week where I participated in a “surf and service” project in Lobitos, Peru. Me and about 12 other students from Markham spent the week in the small town on the coast of Peru working with an organization called WAVES for Development. During the week, we worked at the local school and nursery–building a biodigester, planting trees, painting, cleaning up the beaches, and doing workshops with the young students. In the mornings and evenings, we had surf lessons with many of the locals. It was by far one of the best weeks of my life, and I learned so much from all of the people that I worked with. It was a trip that I never would have done had I not been on exchange. I am beyond grateful that I had the opportunity to participate.
Even though I will miss everyone more than anything, I know that I will always have a second home and a second family in Peru and for that I am forever grateful. Muchísimas gracias Peru. Te amo.