Study Abroad

Mid-week Update & Cultural Notes 102

Time for a quick, mid-week update!

First of all, sincere apologies for any and all typos.  I’m writing this from one of the computers at the university, and Peruvian keyboards are juuust enough different from mine so that I keep hitting incorrect buttons.

Anyway, as per requests, thought I’d mention a little more about what I’m up to personally, and then I’ll hitya with another round of some cultural revelations/points of interest.

Strolling along the coast by night. 

This has literally been THE first normalized week of classes for me, in that I’ve had them all, none were cancelled, etc. So far my two favorites are my Ethnography of Ethnicities/minorities class, and my Andes Archaeology class. Both professors are extremely passionate about their subjects and engaging, and both topics happen to interest me a lot. Especially the ethnography class, because it pertains to the senior thesis I really need to start writing sometime soon…ahem. It gives me a lot of reading resources, which I can use not only for the class but also as research for my thesis as well. Huuuuge bonus, my friends. Because when I mapped out a schedule that I should try to follow for my thesis advisor back home earlier this week, it seemed supremely nice and spaced out. And then I hit classes this week and immediately was swamped with readings to do. Sigh. I’ll have to make it work somehow.

Frankly other than going to school I’m not up to a whole lot quite yet. I really DO do a lot of reading for my classes, which takes a lot of time, and aside from that I’m usually either at the gym or, occasionally, walking around Miraflores/other parts of Lima just because…or because I want food. (Oh, ps, guess I never mentioned this, but I joined the local branch of Gold’s Gym. I know many people think it’s a waste of money, especially with the huge space to run/city-provided outdoor exercise stuff around here, but it really does put me more in a “workout” zone to go to the gym. Although…this one has 15 minute time limits on all the cardio stuff…my normal usage for equipment is 25-30 min each. Sigh.)

Kiosk shopping at dusk. (Just from a random walk around Miraflores.)

Anyway, hoping to spice up my life a little this weekend! On Friday there’s a possibility that I will be going to a Peru vs. Venezuela football..errrr soccer…game. I really want to go, but I’m not 100% sure that I will, as I’m waiting to hear back from a good friend of my sister’s who just so happens to be Peruvian and is in town for a couple of weeks. Sunday, I hope, will be my own personal slice of heaven.  Friday kicks off one of the biggest food festivals in the world, and definitely a HUGE affair in Lima–it’s a food festival called Mistura, and it’s a big honking deal.  The festival lasts for a solid week, but I want to be sure I get to go at least once, and as soon as possible!  Basically there are restaurants, chefs, and vendors-mostly from all over Peru representing all types of cuisine here, but also with some really big global influences as well-set up inside some fair grounds, and you pretty much pay to stuff yourself all day.  You get to eat food from the best of the best and help discover up-and-comers. From what I understand there is also entertainment and live cooking shows/performances. I am literally chomping at the bit to get to this thing, and two of my new Japanese friends have agreed to go with me. PUMPED!

So, that’s the brief life update…I have another 45 minutes before my last class starts, however, (and goes until 9…tragic) so here are some cultural points just because!

Update: So, first of all, my apologies. I’ve been running around telling everyone I ride combis all the time, but really, I don’t. I ride micros.  I thought micros were the smallest transport vans/buses (think Scooby-Doo sized) and that combis were the larger buses remniscent of those I rode in Jordan, but it’s actually the reverse. Although really they work just the same and people know what you’re talking about. The little ones just seem a little less…er…safe. Oh, also, in every bus there are two reserved seats for expecting mothers, elderly people, etc, and what I love about Peru is people AGGRESSIVELY pursue these rules. Even beyond those two seats people will jump up at a moment’s notice to make room for those who need it. Gotta love that. 🙂

Micro line-up.

Laundry: Friends, I have become a laundry PRO in the last few weeks. And I don’t mean because I’ve finally learned how to DO laundry-I’ve been doing that for years-I mean I feel like I spend half of my life running to the laundromat. Here, if you don’t have laundry facilities at home, you take them out to be laundered. NOT, take note, to wash them yourselves–those kinds of laundromats don’t exist in Peru from what I’ve seen. You take your load and leave them overnight for someone else to wash. I have mine done by the kilogram, which means they weigh the load and charge you for that, giving your clothing the standard wash/dry procedure unless you specify otherwise. It’s EXCESSIVELY annoying in my opinion, because this costs me MUCH more than it would to do it myself (I mean, it doesn’t cost a lot, but since I don’t have a lot of clothes here and exercise a lot I have to go rather frequently, and the weight of my jeans really jumps the weight/prices up) and also I always have to wait until the next evening to go pick them up…so there have been some pretty sorry laundry-day outfits going on.

Class Times: I’d read about this before coming, so I was neither surprised nor particulary upset when this happened in pretty much every class, ever, but Peruvians do not start classes right on time. Depending on your professor, classes will start somewhere between 5-15 minutes after what is designated on the schedule.  However, this seems reasonable to me, because, unlike at IU for example, classes are scheduled from 12-2, 2-4, etc. My point being they don’t leave that little period of time for students to walk to different locations for classes, so professors just seem to give it to you…whilst also upholding the Peruvian tradition of always being late anyway. One other aspect of classes here that I DON’T like, however, is sometimes professors feel like they can just reschedule their classes for whenever. For example, one of my professors cancelled class last week one day, and wants us to make it up the Saturday after this. EXCUSE ME? No. Just…NO. If you cancel class, that is YOUR decision, and I shouldn’t have to suffer for it. Furthermore, you have an ALLOTTED time schedule. That is YOUR time, that has been set aside by the school and my own personal schedule, for class. That’s it, that’s all you get. This makes me seriously annoyed…but obviously I will go anyway. Cue powerless student mode.

Resources for school: Are extremely hard to come by. This is something else I was prepared for thanks to some research ahead of time.  You don’t buy textbooks here (admittedly I think this will save a lot of money), however, you DO have to hunt them down in the library and photocopy (er, pay to have photocopied) every damn page you want. (This was very annoying yesterday when I realized a professor had assigned an entire book, but photocopying an entire book is prohibited so I had to do chunks of it in different stores.) I suppose you could always just read and take notes, but the chances of being able to get books again when you need to look up specifics or review for exams are pretty slim, so I’m just massacring trees. Oops. Also, the books that you get from the libraries here are, in general, NOT in top notch condition. Past students have marked all over them (although…if you’re lucky, they mark all the right things which is admittedly useful) and often pages are torn or even taped. However, they still function, the system works, and to be totally honest, photocopying here is REALLY cheap, so even though I spent like 8 soles ($3.50 maybe?)  copying HUNDREDS of pages yesterday…that is NOTHING compared to what I would spend on one book in the USA.

Anyway, this is once again longer than I wanted. My bad…I can never seem to stop elaborating. But enough for now! Enjoy the rest of your weeks, lovelies!

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