My name is Cecilia, and I went on a virtual exchange to Lima Peru “with” my buddy Isa. It was a perfect match. We immediately bonded over TikTok, baking, cooking, sports, school, even Covid-19, sharing our frustration and quarantine activities. We cooked together over Zoom and watched a movie together. We also had most of our classes together, so we got to work on slides in breakout rooms, and she was able to introduce me to lots of other girls. She was the best buddy I could have asked for, always making sure I had the material for class, the links, the correct times.
As for my classes, the teachers did a great job welcoming and introducing me to everyone. They always made sure to fill me in on content I had missed, which was very helpful. The classes I participated in were child development, biology, physics, history, and history of Peru. One challenge in the history of Peru class was that it was taught in Spanish, but I was able to observe the teacher’s screen and gain some context. In a lot of my classes the teachers would put us in breakout rooms to research different topics, which I really enjoyed because I would usually be with my buddy and 1-2 other girls. I learned a lot about ecosystems, childbirth, China and Japan’s history, and kinetic energy.
My favorite class was one day at 6:30 am. Our teacher let us start the class by introducing ourselves and asking questions about Peru or California. At the beginning it was regular questions about school, coronavirus, etc., but then we started to be bold. We bonded over the topic of boys, TikTok, junk food, and more. It was interesting to hear about how different it is going to an all-girls school, and they were intrigued to hear about me attending a co-ed school. After about 30 minutes with the conversation flowing, Miss Ines let us save the work for next class and keep talking.
It was easier than I expected to form friendships over Zoom. I thought it would be awkward and tough to find a conversation topic, but it was super easy to start with basic questions and then let the conversation take its own course. I am super excited to meet them one day in person, and I know we will stay in touch!