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Central/Latin America

Life in Quito

Where am I????

Quito, Ecuador. A place that about three months ago, had never even crossed my mind. A perfect mix of fate and convenience has brought me to this vivacious city for a full 6 weeks. I have successfully managed to make it through three thus far… It’s incredible how quickly you can acclimate to such a foreign place. Already, I feel as though I am home. Now, allow me to bring you through the events that have brought me to where I am today.

And it begins…

The first few days were a blur, it’s a lot to take everything in all at once. Luckily, I’ve been disciplined enough to journal every day for when my memory fails me. On this journey, there are nine other students alongside me, none of which I had known previously. We’re all staying a large, five-bedroom apartment. By the grace of God, we got all got along swimmingly from the get-go. It only took us until day-two to cave and order Domino’s…     The first week was a time meant for settling in. We mostly just did a lot of tourist activities. Went to the equator, zip-lined through the rain forest, etc. Makes it really easy to fall in love with a place with sights like these. There were definitely a few things to get used to, however. The constant rain, not understanding anything that anyone is saying, not being able to flush your toilet paper, all that fun stuff. Culture shock is real and it still affects me three weeks later. The food here is surprisingly bland. Good, but no spice? Apparently Ecuadorians don’t do spicy. What they do love is lunch, or almuerzo. That’s their big meal of the day. For a little over $2, you can go to an almuerzo spot and get a bowl of soup, an entree, and fresh-squeezed juice. This, I will surely miss.

Internship

Far too quickly, internship week came upon us. I was told that I was placed at Camp Hope, which is a place where those with special needs go during the work week. When I first heard of this placement, crippling anxiety boiled within me. Me? With special needs kids? Actually my worst nightmare. I may just be the least nurturing person I know. I don’t do well with babies, the elderly, or really anyone who can’t take care of themselves. Sounds bad, but hey, I’m just being honest here. After a lot of prayer, meditation, and reflection, I got over myself. I saw it as an opportunity to better myself, to do something that I didn’t think I was capable of. Guess what? I survived. (barely) I remember on day three at Camp Hope finally feeling this overwhelming sense of peace rush through my body and mind. My prayers had been answered, and it was then that I knew that I could do this. The rest of the week was fairly easy, still incredibly boring, but easy. Oh, and for the record, I continued to decline the diaper changes (that’s where I draw the line). Although I had learned a lot and had these realizations, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I came to Ecuador to further my education in sociology and to intern somewhere that would nurture that. I prayed on it and talked about it with Mika, our supervisor to see what she thought about it all…

Oops! I meant “internship(s)”

So, talked to Mika and told her how I didn’t quite feel like I was gaining from my situation. If that’s where I’m meant to be, then so be it. I will milk the opportunity and gain all that I can from it. If not, I wanted to see what my options were. She listened and talked about how maybe I was only meant to be at Camp Hope for that period of time to learn what I did, maybe there is something else out there for me. She prayed on it and another door opened. There was an opportunity for an intern at IMPAQTO, which is a co-working space/ business. I started immediately and I’m loving it so far. Definitely makes more sense with my major and I don’t have to change anyone’s diaper. It’s really cool to see how they run business in a place like Ecuador.

The Jungle

Coming into this, I knew that we had some scheduled jungle time allotted into our trip. What I didn’t know was that it would be a full 4-day expedition. It was about a 5-hour drive to the Amazon jungle, Misahualli to be specific. It was unbelievable. The culture, the food, the wildlife. Unlike anywhere that I had ever been before. It was nice to all be together as a group, great bonding experience. We went on a waterfall hike (where we almost died a time or two), played with monkeys, and helped out at a nearby school that Living and Learning partners with. The only part that I don’t miss is the suffocating humidity and the absence of air conditioning. That I can do without.              

In Conclusion (for now)

I am now fully accustomed to life in Quito. I’ve officially made it a full month, the longest I’ve ever been away. I couldn’t have dreamt of a better experience and I’m excited to see what my last 2 weeks bring me. I’ve already learned so much, I’m probably going to come back as a “super human”. I hope the few of you that have stumbled across this have enjoyed my first-ever blog post. Now, I will depart with some more photos for you to look at.         

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Adventure of a Lifetime
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USIL group at Cristo Blanco.

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Riding up the mountain on a horse!

Edwin

Allyssa and Gabby go to Edwin Chaves house for at class.

Now that I have finished my semester abroad in Cusco, I look back on the pre-nervousness and laugh. Traveling alone, to another country seemed quite terrifying, and I didn’t know If I was capable of it. But, studying abroad proved to be one of the most exhilarating, life-changing, and memorable experiences of my life. Within the four months in Peru, I learned more Spanish, Peruvian culture, but also about myself. I’m going to tell you some important lessons I’ve learned along the way. First, being adventuring solo. I’ve learned in life it’s incredibly important not to rely on friends for entertainment but to experience everything with yourself. In each of our journies in life, at some point, we’ll be without our normalcy. Another piece of advice I would offer is about time. Something that I feel like I never have enough of. One night as I was walking home from the University I reflected on how I always seem to walk a little faster through life. And, for those of you who know me well know how impatient I truly am. Living in Peru taught me that I need to take things a little slower, and enjoy the time I have. I’m constantly looking for the newest place I’m going to travel, instead of enjoying where I am. I want students to be ready for this adventure. Experience everything to the fullest, (while being responsible). And take it all in. In all honesty, there are going to be absolutely amazing days that you’ll never want to leave, but there are also going to be hard days. You’ll want to cry to your friends or family back home but it’s part of the journey. My journey is beauty in all its craziness. And I’m so thankful for an amazing host family, for loving me as if I was their own. I’m thankful for my parents in America who let me travel the world and follow my heart. I’m thankful for opportunities that my University provides me. Studying abroad is a beautiful, crazy, weird adventure. I wouldn’t change my time abroad for anything. Everyone who studies abroad I believe comes back a little differently. Everyone is going to have a different story to tell about their time abroad. Studying abroad allows so much room for personal growth, places and people you’ll never forget. I encourage my fellow students to study abroad, grab your passport and vamos. I leave you with one of my personal favorite quotes, “This heart of mine was made to travel this world” -unknown. 



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Life in Cusco

03/28/2016

We’ve all heard the saying “time flies when you’re having fun.” This saying couldn’t be truer as I approach the end of my third month living in Cusco. Spending a semester in another country is one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences one could have. The past month I’ve been blessed with a church here in Cusco, called Tres Cruzes which in Spanish translates to three crosses. I knew that God had sent me to Cusco for a reason I just didn’t know it yet. I’ve learned not only about the Peruvian culture but also some realities of being a missionary. Which includes being homesick and literally getting sick. But there are always moments that make me remember that the bad times aren’t so bad. I have been blessed to be able to travel to Machu Picchu not only once but twice. I’ve seen some of the most beautiful sites in Cusco such as Cristo Blanco and Saqsaywaman. I don’t want to have an average study abroad experience. I want to return to Minnesota DSCN0913 knowing that I made lasting impressions and instead of saying goodbye, I will be able to say “I can’t wait till I see you again.”  Studying abroad isn’t about being a tourist it’s about engaging in a different culture and finding a deeper meaning of oneself. But rather it is an extraordinary opportunity for personal growth and a chance for new adventures to happen. I am happy to say that I am constantly learning and practicing my new Spanish skills. I can’t wait to see what April has in store for me! Blessings from Cusco. DSCN0023DSCN0270



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Just do it!

It’s hard to believe that I’ve lived in Cusco for an entire month now. It feels like yesterday that I was saying my goodbyes to friends and family. The past month has been filled with many new experiences, lots of laughs, and an abundance of beautiful views. I’m going to start off by explaining some of my favorite days in Cusco thus far. An afternoon of exploring brought me to a nearby park, where I found a group of 10 Peruvian boys who let me play futbol with them. In that moment, I knew that I was meant to come to Peru. It reminded me how God will call you anywhere and all you can do is nod your head and say, “OK God.” Living in Peru has been an absolutely amazing experience so far, but I know this is a stepping stone in my journey of becoming a missionary. Despite language barriers between the boys, I feel like we could connect over the game. I couldn’t help but smile and high-five my teammates when we scored a goal. Although I’ve only lived in Peru for a month now I feel like I’ve adjusted well because of all the learning I’ve done. Another memorable day in Cusco was an adventure filled weekend to various famous Inca sites such as Moray, Salineras, and Pisac. Moray is a famous site built by the Incas for agricultural purposes. It’s circular structure built for cultivating different crops at different climates. The Salineras were pools built by the Incas and as the water evaporated it turned into salt. Pisac is a famous Peruvian village in the sacred valley, with a hustling market for visitors. Studying abroad is about the experiences, but it’s also about learning more about yourself. Having to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Meaning, speaking to strangers in a language you don’t really understand. Or, getting lost and having to find your way home. All of this can be scary but there is so much growth that can come from these moments. Sometimes, the hardest part is our willingness. For instance, I went on a hike to an Inca Ruin a few weeks ago and it was one of the most strenuous, lung constraining hikes of my life. Multiple times I doubted myself about making it to the top. But, there is a feeling of great accomplishment when you finally reach the top. I want to look back on my experience here in Cusco and know wholeheartedly I made it count. The months are going to fly by and before I know it I’ll be on a plane back home. As I conclude this post, I encourage you to be uncomfortable Face and see what happens. You’ll never know till you get there! 

Moray

Moray Visit

Futbol

Salty  Art



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When In Cuzco

Cuzco peru USIL yeahI have only been in Peru for about four days now and I’m quickly adjusting to my new life in South America. Some important things to keep in mind when studying abroad: Ask questions about the culture, the food, and anything else you may want to know. Here in Cuzco, crossing the street should be considered an extreme sport. Buses are flying down the street, cars honking, dogs running around everywhere it can get pretty intense. Besides the traffic, language barriers are ever present here in South America. Spending four months in a country whose language isn’t natural can seem quite intimidating but it is truly a great opportunity for personal growth. In Peru, the two most common languages are Spanish, and Quechua. Although I’ve had Spanish experience in the past nothing can compare to 24/7 immersion in the culture and language. My goal for the semester is to become more confident and speak more fluently in Spanish. I live in a homestay here in Cuzco. My mother’s name is Veronica, father is Franko and two little sisters, Fabiana and Leticia. It is incredibly often that parents or elders will ask “How are you” “Do you need anything” etc. Peruvians are known for being incredibly kind towards others. Tomorrow begins a new journey as I start my spring semester at USIL “Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola” where I will be taking Spanish, Biodiversity of Peru, Photography, History of the Inca Civilization, and Art and Design of Cuzco. About 90% of the students at USIL are international. My fellow students come from all over the U.S with interesting stories and personalities. Although I’ll miss seeing familiar faces at Concordia, I can’t wait to come back and tell them all about my experiences in Cuzco. Being in a different country is a great opportunity to try new things and break out of our comfort zone, for instance, I tried Guinea pig for the first and last time. (No, it doesn’t taste like chicken). As I conclude the first of many blogs I’ll leave you with this quote, “When was the last time you did something for the first time? God’s blessings from Cuzco. 



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May In Cusco

My international experience in Cusco, Peru will be a trip that will stay with me for the rest of my life for sure! Not only that but it will help me further my future goals. I am studying Education and International Studies at Concordia. I hope to teach in an Elementary school and then someday hopefully get my masters and become a professor. This trip has helped broaden my perspective of the world which ultimately helps my international view of the world. I spent some time with children over the course of the 4 months- whether it was staying in their home or volunteering where they stay and that has helped me better understand as well. In addition to how this trip can help me in an academic way- my experience can also help me as a person. There is some much that you experience and go through while abroad that you can’t experience anywhere else or with anything else. Being abroad has taught me a lot of important life lessons including patience, kindness, and enjoyment of life’s simple pleasures. IMG_0705



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April in Cusco

I think I have able to integrate into the culture here in Cusco, Peru. It has been tough as I am accustomed to the culture of the United States and have only been out of the country one other time for 2 weeks. It took about 3 weeks to get my bearings together and understand how things work. I think after first getting here I was definitely blown away by the difference from Peru to the United States. Although after 3 months, I understand a lot about Cusco. The city is pretty conservative as far as tradition goes. Clothing is somewhat strict, as showing a lot of skin is pretty disrespectful. Peru has a lot of indigenous people who still practice the culture that their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. Also, the tradition of food is very interesting, but also very delicious! I feel like I have integrated into the culture somewhat, because I think I understand the culture enough to respect it and be part of it! Some other parts of the culture include their religion, the night life, and family life. Their predominately Catholic, as they were conquered by the Spanish. The nightlife here is like nothing I have seen before!! People almost always go to nightclubs, bars, restaurants, or just a place to dance on the weekends. The family life is different here than what I am used to. Typically multiple generations live in the same household and in the host stay I am at- there are now 4! Children usually live with their parents or aunts or uncles until they are 30. It’s been very cool experiencing another culture and having this amazing opportunity!

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March in Cusco

Studying abroad is a life-changing experience, no doubt. It has taught me a lot already after having been a little over 2 months. Most important, it has taught me to try new things and to go out of my comfort zone. There are things I have experienced here that years ago, I  would have bet you I would never try. A few examples- I have tried guinea pig, as it is a culinary tradition here; I have hikes up and down in the world’s deepest canyon and experienced an earthquake and rock slides while doing so; I have gotten into a water and foam fight with groups of people I have never met before; I went to a foreign country that speaks a language I don’t; and countless more. The thing about studying abroad is that you can’t have a small comfort zone, because there are countless opportunities surrounding you that you simply cannot say no to. I have found myself typically saying yes, without exactly knowing what I am getting myself into. Which is at first frightening- but exhilarating as well. Some of these experiences have been really amazing and some not so much, but even that being so- there is nothing I regret. I think that it is incredibly important to always keep an open mind when abroad, because there are so many things you can learn from this experience. We went to the great Machu Picchu in this past month and it was absolutely amazing. We were speechless at the site and had a hard time believing that this was actually happening. It has been a wonderful trip!               11003_602567403213987_8452889201320107936_n046047194



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February in Cusco!

This past month has been full of lots of varying events. We have traveled to surrounding cities by Cusco, have experienced the nightlife, tried new and exciting foods, and learned very interesting things. I am starting to feel like I am getting used to the way Cusco operates. Everything takes about twice as long as it does in the States. Definitely learning how important patience is! I enjoy it though because not everything is in a rush it seems and you can enjoy the time spent. We have a lot of field trips in my classes here, about 1 a week, so a lot of learning is done outside the classroom. We have visited churches, lakes, gardens, museums, workshops, archaeological sites, and many more. My teachers love Cusco and really enjoy teaching us about their city, so I feel lucky to be learning from them! We have been doing a lot of exploring on our own, without the help from the university or my host family, and it has proved to be very interesting. I have found myself learning about the simplicity of nature and the importance of patience! Where I am has a lot of countryside filled with varying wildlife and animals. It’s been cool to drive through and walk around and up the Andes, which tower over you. My favorite trips have been the ones where we just explore around the mountains, cities, markets, or archaeological sites and take our time seeing what we want to see. It’s cool how different my surroundings are from where I’m used to. As far as patience, everything takes about twice as long here as is does in the States. At first, it was somewhat frustrating but now that I have gotten used to it, I somewhat appreciate it! Makes you value your time more it seems.  As far as my best learning experience, it’s definitely the language! I have never taken Spanish before and trying to get by with knowing no Spanish was difficult. However, now after being here for 6 weeks, I have found that I have learned a lot! My host family doesn’t know any English, and pretty much neither do the people of Cusco. It’s rare if you find a native that speaks much English. A learning curve for sure. But, that provides for a lot of motivation to learn the language! I can carry on a simple conversation now and am able to bargain quite well! This has been an amazing trip already and it is for sure one of the best decisions I have made!

 

1st: Me and my host brother in traditional Quechua Clothing on Lake Titicaca, Puno, Peru (personal trip)Theresa.Host Brother Tradition Quencha Clothing

2nd: Parade in Puno, Peru for Carnival (personal trip)

3rd: women on a floating island on Lake Titicaca, Puno, Peru (personal trip)

4th: Foam and Water Fight at Carnival in Cusco   Theresa. Prade in Puno PeruTheresa.Lake Titicaca Puno PeruTheresa. Foam and Water Fight



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First week in Cusco, Peru

After spending over a week in Cusco, Peru, I have found that I am already learning so much. Cusco speaks Spanish and Quechua, not really much English. Going into this program I didn’t know any Spanish, and I already feel like I can make it by. I highly recommend studying abroad in a country that speaks another language so you can further your communication with the rest of the world. I am taking 5 classes here: History of the Inca Civilization, Contemporary Society and Culture of Peru, Biodiversity of Peru, Spanish, and Art & Design of Cusco. All of these classes, with the exception of Spanish, focus on my location on this planet. I highly doubt I could take any of these classes in the United States, much less visit the sites we are learning about in class!! I am really enjoying my classes so far and am feeling that I am going to learn a lot of cool information. I am doing a home stay here in Cusco and do not regret it one bit. Although it has been difficult with the language barrier, I find that I am learning a lot about both the language and the culture. Any new experience is going to be hard, but I feel as I will get the hang of it! My host parents are very good cooks, patient, understanding, protective, and incredibly kind. I feel blessed to have a host family like I do. There is another student from my program staying with the same host family so that has been very nice! We attend their family events together, explore the city, and spend time with the other international students from USIL, our university. The thing with studying abroad is that you can’t really stay in your comfort zone, because honestly you don’t really want to. There are so many new experiences and opportunities at my fingertips that it would be foolish to not participate. I have tried cows tongue, hiked up a mountain, learned native dances, and even bargained with natives on the street for a cheaper price on al paca sweaters (and won). I feel like I am starting to understand the culture more. Here we say a full greeting to everyone. Hey, Hi, Hello is considered rude. What is expected is good morning, good afternoon, or good night with one single kiss on the cheek. If you ask how they are doing, a full answer is expected whereas in the United States, good is suffice. It’s very cool to be learning another culture and to be completely immersed into it! For anyone considering studying abroad, stop considering and do it!!



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Life in Quito

Where am I????

Quito, Ecuador. A place that about three months ago, had never even crossed my mind. A perfect mix of fate and convenience has brought me to this vivacious city for a full 6 weeks. I have successfully managed to make it through three thus far… It’s incredible how quickly you can acclimate to such a foreign place. Already, I feel as though I am home. Now, allow me to bring you through the events that have brought me to where I am today.

And it begins…

The first few days were a blur, it’s a lot to take everything in all at once. Luckily, I’ve been disciplined enough to journal every day for when my memory fails me. On this journey, there are nine other students alongside me, none of which I had known previously. We’re all staying a large, five-bedroom apartment. By the grace of God, we got all got along swimmingly from the get-go. It only took us until day-two to cave and order Domino’s…     The first week was a time meant for settling in. We mostly just did a lot of tourist activities. Went to the equator, zip-lined through the rain forest, etc. Makes it really easy to fall in love with a place with sights like these. There were definitely a few things to get used to, however. The constant rain, not understanding anything that anyone is saying, not being able to flush your toilet paper, all that fun stuff. Culture shock is real and it still affects me three weeks later. The food here is surprisingly bland. Good, but no spice? Apparently Ecuadorians don’t do spicy. What they do love is lunch, or almuerzo. That’s their big meal of the day. For a little over $2, you can go to an almuerzo spot and get a bowl of soup, an entree, and fresh-squeezed juice. This, I will surely miss.

Internship

Far too quickly, internship week came upon us. I was told that I was placed at Camp Hope, which is a place where those with special needs go during the work week. When I first heard of this placement, crippling anxiety boiled within me. Me? With special needs kids? Actually my worst nightmare. I may just be the least nurturing person I know. I don’t do well with babies, the elderly, or really anyone who can’t take care of themselves. Sounds bad, but hey, I’m just being honest here. After a lot of prayer, meditation, and reflection, I got over myself. I saw it as an opportunity to better myself, to do something that I didn’t think I was capable of. Guess what? I survived. (barely) I remember on day three at Camp Hope finally feeling this overwhelming sense of peace rush through my body and mind. My prayers had been answered, and it was then that I knew that I could do this. The rest of the week was fairly easy, still incredibly boring, but easy. Oh, and for the record, I continued to decline the diaper changes (that’s where I draw the line). Although I had learned a lot and had these realizations, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I came to Ecuador to further my education in sociology and to intern somewhere that would nurture that. I prayed on it and talked about it with Mika, our supervisor to see what she thought about it all…

Oops! I meant “internship(s)”

So, talked to Mika and told her how I didn’t quite feel like I was gaining from my situation. If that’s where I’m meant to be, then so be it. I will milk the opportunity and gain all that I can from it. If not, I wanted to see what my options were. She listened and talked about how maybe I was only meant to be at Camp Hope for that period of time to learn what I did, maybe there is something else out there for me. She prayed on it and another door opened. There was an opportunity for an intern at IMPAQTO, which is a co-working space/ business. I started immediately and I’m loving it so far. Definitely makes more sense with my major and I don’t have to change anyone’s diaper. It’s really cool to see how they run business in a place like Ecuador.

The Jungle

Coming into this, I knew that we had some scheduled jungle time allotted into our trip. What I didn’t know was that it would be a full 4-day expedition. It was about a 5-hour drive to the Amazon jungle, Misahualli to be specific. It was unbelievable. The culture, the food, the wildlife. Unlike anywhere that I had ever been before. It was nice to all be together as a group, great bonding experience. We went on a waterfall hike (where we almost died a time or two), played with monkeys, and helped out at a nearby school that Living and Learning partners with. The only part that I don’t miss is the suffocating humidity and the absence of air conditioning. That I can do without.              

In Conclusion (for now)

I am now fully accustomed to life in Quito. I’ve officially made it a full month, the longest I’ve ever been away. I couldn’t have dreamt of a better experience and I’m excited to see what my last 2 weeks bring me. I’ve already learned so much, I’m probably going to come back as a “super human”. I hope the few of you that have stumbled across this have enjoyed my first-ever blog post. Now, I will depart with some more photos for you to look at.         

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Adventure of a Lifetime
DSCN1312

USIL group at Cristo Blanco.

Rainbowmountain2

Riding up the mountain on a horse!

Edwin

Allyssa and Gabby go to Edwin Chaves house for at class.

Now that I have finished my semester abroad in Cusco, I look back on the pre-nervousness and laugh. Traveling alone, to another country seemed quite terrifying, and I didn’t know If I was capable of it. But, studying abroad proved to be one of the most exhilarating, life-changing, and memorable experiences of my life. Within the four months in Peru, I learned more Spanish, Peruvian culture, but also about myself. I’m going to tell you some important lessons I’ve learned along the way. First, being adventuring solo. I’ve learned in life it’s incredibly important not to rely on friends for entertainment but to experience everything with yourself. In each of our journies in life, at some point, we’ll be without our normalcy. Another piece of advice I would offer is about time. Something that I feel like I never have enough of. One night as I was walking home from the University I reflected on how I always seem to walk a little faster through life. And, for those of you who know me well know how impatient I truly am. Living in Peru taught me that I need to take things a little slower, and enjoy the time I have. I’m constantly looking for the newest place I’m going to travel, instead of enjoying where I am. I want students to be ready for this adventure. Experience everything to the fullest, (while being responsible). And take it all in. In all honesty, there are going to be absolutely amazing days that you’ll never want to leave, but there are also going to be hard days. You’ll want to cry to your friends or family back home but it’s part of the journey. My journey is beauty in all its craziness. And I’m so thankful for an amazing host family, for loving me as if I was their own. I’m thankful for my parents in America who let me travel the world and follow my heart. I’m thankful for opportunities that my University provides me. Studying abroad is a beautiful, crazy, weird adventure. I wouldn’t change my time abroad for anything. Everyone who studies abroad I believe comes back a little differently. Everyone is going to have a different story to tell about their time abroad. Studying abroad allows so much room for personal growth, places and people you’ll never forget. I encourage my fellow students to study abroad, grab your passport and vamos. I leave you with one of my personal favorite quotes, “This heart of mine was made to travel this world” -unknown. 



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Life in Cusco

03/28/2016

We’ve all heard the saying “time flies when you’re having fun.” This saying couldn’t be truer as I approach the end of my third month living in Cusco. Spending a semester in another country is one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences one could have. The past month I’ve been blessed with a church here in Cusco, called Tres Cruzes which in Spanish translates to three crosses. I knew that God had sent me to Cusco for a reason I just didn’t know it yet. I’ve learned not only about the Peruvian culture but also some realities of being a missionary. Which includes being homesick and literally getting sick. But there are always moments that make me remember that the bad times aren’t so bad. I have been blessed to be able to travel to Machu Picchu not only once but twice. I’ve seen some of the most beautiful sites in Cusco such as Cristo Blanco and Saqsaywaman. I don’t want to have an average study abroad experience. I want to return to Minnesota DSCN0913 knowing that I made lasting impressions and instead of saying goodbye, I will be able to say “I can’t wait till I see you again.”  Studying abroad isn’t about being a tourist it’s about engaging in a different culture and finding a deeper meaning of oneself. But rather it is an extraordinary opportunity for personal growth and a chance for new adventures to happen. I am happy to say that I am constantly learning and practicing my new Spanish skills. I can’t wait to see what April has in store for me! Blessings from Cusco. DSCN0023DSCN0270



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Just do it!

It’s hard to believe that I’ve lived in Cusco for an entire month now. It feels like yesterday that I was saying my goodbyes to friends and family. The past month has been filled with many new experiences, lots of laughs, and an abundance of beautiful views. I’m going to start off by explaining some of my favorite days in Cusco thus far. An afternoon of exploring brought me to a nearby park, where I found a group of 10 Peruvian boys who let me play futbol with them. In that moment, I knew that I was meant to come to Peru. It reminded me how God will call you anywhere and all you can do is nod your head and say, “OK God.” Living in Peru has been an absolutely amazing experience so far, but I know this is a stepping stone in my journey of becoming a missionary. Despite language barriers between the boys, I feel like we could connect over the game. I couldn’t help but smile and high-five my teammates when we scored a goal. Although I’ve only lived in Peru for a month now I feel like I’ve adjusted well because of all the learning I’ve done. Another memorable day in Cusco was an adventure filled weekend to various famous Inca sites such as Moray, Salineras, and Pisac. Moray is a famous site built by the Incas for agricultural purposes. It’s circular structure built for cultivating different crops at different climates. The Salineras were pools built by the Incas and as the water evaporated it turned into salt. Pisac is a famous Peruvian village in the sacred valley, with a hustling market for visitors. Studying abroad is about the experiences, but it’s also about learning more about yourself. Having to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Meaning, speaking to strangers in a language you don’t really understand. Or, getting lost and having to find your way home. All of this can be scary but there is so much growth that can come from these moments. Sometimes, the hardest part is our willingness. For instance, I went on a hike to an Inca Ruin a few weeks ago and it was one of the most strenuous, lung constraining hikes of my life. Multiple times I doubted myself about making it to the top. But, there is a feeling of great accomplishment when you finally reach the top. I want to look back on my experience here in Cusco and know wholeheartedly I made it count. The months are going to fly by and before I know it I’ll be on a plane back home. As I conclude this post, I encourage you to be uncomfortable Face and see what happens. You’ll never know till you get there! 

Moray

Moray Visit

Futbol

Salty  Art



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When In Cuzco

Cuzco peru USIL yeahI have only been in Peru for about four days now and I’m quickly adjusting to my new life in South America. Some important things to keep in mind when studying abroad: Ask questions about the culture, the food, and anything else you may want to know. Here in Cuzco, crossing the street should be considered an extreme sport. Buses are flying down the street, cars honking, dogs running around everywhere it can get pretty intense. Besides the traffic, language barriers are ever present here in South America. Spending four months in a country whose language isn’t natural can seem quite intimidating but it is truly a great opportunity for personal growth. In Peru, the two most common languages are Spanish, and Quechua. Although I’ve had Spanish experience in the past nothing can compare to 24/7 immersion in the culture and language. My goal for the semester is to become more confident and speak more fluently in Spanish. I live in a homestay here in Cuzco. My mother’s name is Veronica, father is Franko and two little sisters, Fabiana and Leticia. It is incredibly often that parents or elders will ask “How are you” “Do you need anything” etc. Peruvians are known for being incredibly kind towards others. Tomorrow begins a new journey as I start my spring semester at USIL “Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola” where I will be taking Spanish, Biodiversity of Peru, Photography, History of the Inca Civilization, and Art and Design of Cuzco. About 90% of the students at USIL are international. My fellow students come from all over the U.S with interesting stories and personalities. Although I’ll miss seeing familiar faces at Concordia, I can’t wait to come back and tell them all about my experiences in Cuzco. Being in a different country is a great opportunity to try new things and break out of our comfort zone, for instance, I tried Guinea pig for the first and last time. (No, it doesn’t taste like chicken). As I conclude the first of many blogs I’ll leave you with this quote, “When was the last time you did something for the first time? God’s blessings from Cuzco. 



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May In Cusco

My international experience in Cusco, Peru will be a trip that will stay with me for the rest of my life for sure! Not only that but it will help me further my future goals. I am studying Education and International Studies at Concordia. I hope to teach in an Elementary school and then someday hopefully get my masters and become a professor. This trip has helped broaden my perspective of the world which ultimately helps my international view of the world. I spent some time with children over the course of the 4 months- whether it was staying in their home or volunteering where they stay and that has helped me better understand as well. In addition to how this trip can help me in an academic way- my experience can also help me as a person. There is some much that you experience and go through while abroad that you can’t experience anywhere else or with anything else. Being abroad has taught me a lot of important life lessons including patience, kindness, and enjoyment of life’s simple pleasures. IMG_0705



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April in Cusco

I think I have able to integrate into the culture here in Cusco, Peru. It has been tough as I am accustomed to the culture of the United States and have only been out of the country one other time for 2 weeks. It took about 3 weeks to get my bearings together and understand how things work. I think after first getting here I was definitely blown away by the difference from Peru to the United States. Although after 3 months, I understand a lot about Cusco. The city is pretty conservative as far as tradition goes. Clothing is somewhat strict, as showing a lot of skin is pretty disrespectful. Peru has a lot of indigenous people who still practice the culture that their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. Also, the tradition of food is very interesting, but also very delicious! I feel like I have integrated into the culture somewhat, because I think I understand the culture enough to respect it and be part of it! Some other parts of the culture include their religion, the night life, and family life. Their predominately Catholic, as they were conquered by the Spanish. The nightlife here is like nothing I have seen before!! People almost always go to nightclubs, bars, restaurants, or just a place to dance on the weekends. The family life is different here than what I am used to. Typically multiple generations live in the same household and in the host stay I am at- there are now 4! Children usually live with their parents or aunts or uncles until they are 30. It’s been very cool experiencing another culture and having this amazing opportunity!

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March in Cusco

Studying abroad is a life-changing experience, no doubt. It has taught me a lot already after having been a little over 2 months. Most important, it has taught me to try new things and to go out of my comfort zone. There are things I have experienced here that years ago, I  would have bet you I would never try. A few examples- I have tried guinea pig, as it is a culinary tradition here; I have hikes up and down in the world’s deepest canyon and experienced an earthquake and rock slides while doing so; I have gotten into a water and foam fight with groups of people I have never met before; I went to a foreign country that speaks a language I don’t; and countless more. The thing about studying abroad is that you can’t have a small comfort zone, because there are countless opportunities surrounding you that you simply cannot say no to. I have found myself typically saying yes, without exactly knowing what I am getting myself into. Which is at first frightening- but exhilarating as well. Some of these experiences have been really amazing and some not so much, but even that being so- there is nothing I regret. I think that it is incredibly important to always keep an open mind when abroad, because there are so many things you can learn from this experience. We went to the great Machu Picchu in this past month and it was absolutely amazing. We were speechless at the site and had a hard time believing that this was actually happening. It has been a wonderful trip!               11003_602567403213987_8452889201320107936_n046047194



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February in Cusco!

This past month has been full of lots of varying events. We have traveled to surrounding cities by Cusco, have experienced the nightlife, tried new and exciting foods, and learned very interesting things. I am starting to feel like I am getting used to the way Cusco operates. Everything takes about twice as long as it does in the States. Definitely learning how important patience is! I enjoy it though because not everything is in a rush it seems and you can enjoy the time spent. We have a lot of field trips in my classes here, about 1 a week, so a lot of learning is done outside the classroom. We have visited churches, lakes, gardens, museums, workshops, archaeological sites, and many more. My teachers love Cusco and really enjoy teaching us about their city, so I feel lucky to be learning from them! We have been doing a lot of exploring on our own, without the help from the university or my host family, and it has proved to be very interesting. I have found myself learning about the simplicity of nature and the importance of patience! Where I am has a lot of countryside filled with varying wildlife and animals. It’s been cool to drive through and walk around and up the Andes, which tower over you. My favorite trips have been the ones where we just explore around the mountains, cities, markets, or archaeological sites and take our time seeing what we want to see. It’s cool how different my surroundings are from where I’m used to. As far as patience, everything takes about twice as long here as is does in the States. At first, it was somewhat frustrating but now that I have gotten used to it, I somewhat appreciate it! Makes you value your time more it seems.  As far as my best learning experience, it’s definitely the language! I have never taken Spanish before and trying to get by with knowing no Spanish was difficult. However, now after being here for 6 weeks, I have found that I have learned a lot! My host family doesn’t know any English, and pretty much neither do the people of Cusco. It’s rare if you find a native that speaks much English. A learning curve for sure. But, that provides for a lot of motivation to learn the language! I can carry on a simple conversation now and am able to bargain quite well! This has been an amazing trip already and it is for sure one of the best decisions I have made!

 

1st: Me and my host brother in traditional Quechua Clothing on Lake Titicaca, Puno, Peru (personal trip)Theresa.Host Brother Tradition Quencha Clothing

2nd: Parade in Puno, Peru for Carnival (personal trip)

3rd: women on a floating island on Lake Titicaca, Puno, Peru (personal trip)

4th: Foam and Water Fight at Carnival in Cusco   Theresa. Prade in Puno PeruTheresa.Lake Titicaca Puno PeruTheresa. Foam and Water Fight



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First week in Cusco, Peru

After spending over a week in Cusco, Peru, I have found that I am already learning so much. Cusco speaks Spanish and Quechua, not really much English. Going into this program I didn’t know any Spanish, and I already feel like I can make it by. I highly recommend studying abroad in a country that speaks another language so you can further your communication with the rest of the world. I am taking 5 classes here: History of the Inca Civilization, Contemporary Society and Culture of Peru, Biodiversity of Peru, Spanish, and Art & Design of Cusco. All of these classes, with the exception of Spanish, focus on my location on this planet. I highly doubt I could take any of these classes in the United States, much less visit the sites we are learning about in class!! I am really enjoying my classes so far and am feeling that I am going to learn a lot of cool information. I am doing a home stay here in Cusco and do not regret it one bit. Although it has been difficult with the language barrier, I find that I am learning a lot about both the language and the culture. Any new experience is going to be hard, but I feel as I will get the hang of it! My host parents are very good cooks, patient, understanding, protective, and incredibly kind. I feel blessed to have a host family like I do. There is another student from my program staying with the same host family so that has been very nice! We attend their family events together, explore the city, and spend time with the other international students from USIL, our university. The thing with studying abroad is that you can’t really stay in your comfort zone, because honestly you don’t really want to. There are so many new experiences and opportunities at my fingertips that it would be foolish to not participate. I have tried cows tongue, hiked up a mountain, learned native dances, and even bargained with natives on the street for a cheaper price on al paca sweaters (and won). I feel like I am starting to understand the culture more. Here we say a full greeting to everyone. Hey, Hi, Hello is considered rude. What is expected is good morning, good afternoon, or good night with one single kiss on the cheek. If you ask how they are doing, a full answer is expected whereas in the United States, good is suffice. It’s very cool to be learning another culture and to be completely immersed into it! For anyone considering studying abroad, stop considering and do it!!



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