¿Cómo fue Perú?

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Before I get into this post, I want to preface by saying that this post is of my own thoughts. All thoughts and ideas are drawn from my own personal experiences and do not reflect the experiences of others. This is merely my own views and comparisons of two cultures and meant to help spark thought from another perspective.

I’ve had some time to step back and collect all of my thoughts and how the last three months have affected my life. And how it’s created a new wave of thinking.

From when I first stepped off the plane into Miami, I had this overwhelmingly feeling that I was in an unfamiliar place. The country that I’ve called home for the last 22 years suddenly felt foreign. And I couldn’t understand as to why.

I came from a place where people took the time to smell the flowers and went to a place where people shoved you immediately out of the way without looking back. I came from a place where someone, a complete stranger, took the time to ask you about your day and came to a place with people not giving a damn what you thought. I came from a place where people cared nature and went to a place where people destroy to build concrete jungles.

My entire worldview has changed, especially with my view of Americans.

The lifestyle of a typical American is a fast paced mentality. We have to get things done in the fastest way possible and move on to the next task immediately. We don’t take enough time give ourselves a break. There are even studies that show how the quality of life in Americans is declining due to our lifestyle habits. We have to change or we will drive ourselves into insanity.

From my daily life, to school, and living with a host family, I learned more than I could ever imagine. I learned things I wouldn’t be able to learn had I stayed in the United States. I’m actively trying to take these lessons and apply them into my daily life. And I encourage everyone to make these changes in your life as well.

Make the time to be with your family. Family is the one thing in life that we are given from our day of birth. It’s the most important thing we have in life and something no one should take for granted. Call your mom. Go to dinner with your Dad. Take your brother to a football game. Do whatever you want, but do it with your family.

Take a moment from your day to smell the flowers. One thing I would notice in Peru is that people took the time out of their day to go outside. They would leave their job, for just about an hour, and surround themselves with nature. Whether it was around the block or in a park, Peruvians made an effort to be outside in the fresh air more. And that’s something I never see Americans do. It’s something we should be implementing in our lives not just because we live in a beautiful place, but for our own mental health. Taking one hour out of the craziness of life can be therapeutic. Give your brain a break.

Tell the people you care about that you love them. One day, we aren’t going to have our parents. And we aren’t going to have our friends. That’s a hard fact of life we all have to accept. Take the time to call your mom to say that you love her. Or tell you’re friend how much you care about them. Or express it in actions. Buy your girlfriend flowers. Take your Dad out to dinner. There will come a time in life where we won’t be able to tell someone or express our love for those that we care about.

Travel as much as you possibly can. Educate yourself by getting lost in a city. Learn a new language. Climb a mountain. Eat a different type of food. Get out of your comfort zone. You are expanding your worldview. Stop dreaming of that place you want to travel to, and just buy the damn plane ticket. It will be the best money you’ve every spent.

Stop thinking that the world revolves around America. Don’t get me wrong, America is an incredible country and I’m very lucky to call myself an American. But there are so many other problems going on in the world that are far worse than what happens here. And as Americans, we live privileged lives. We also live sheltered lives. And it’s hard to imagine our lives without the luxuries that we have.

To give some perspective, imagine the following situations. Imagine a child sitting outside of a hospital profusely bleeding on the street and denied medical care just because the hospital don’t want to help you. You are given no reason other than they can’t help you. Imagine a family having to walk miles to a river so they could bathe because they have no access to water in their town. Imagine being a woman and being denied service, in whatever facet you think of, solely because you are a woman. Imagine being denied the right to work just because you stay true to your cultural roots. Imagine being denied the right to speak just because of your gender.

Now think about America. Have you ever seen this happen? Have you ever been denied freedom of speech? Have you ever been denied medical care? Have you ever been denied access to water?

Learn how to love. On my last day with my host family, my host mom told me something that I will never forget. She said to me this: “Whatever you do with your life, do it with love. It is easy for us to choose hate. It is hard to choose love. You have seen things some people will never see in their lives. You have seen what real poverty looks like. But you have also seen happiness. You have seen people who are genuinely happy with their lives although they have close to nothing. Take that happiness back to your country and spread it to as many people as you can so that other people can know what it means to love life.”

This summer was an experience unlike anything I’ve ever done in my life. I can’t thank my parents enough for supporting me to do this. And I can’t thank my host family enough for taking me in as their own and showing me their culture.

So here’s to you Peru. For giving me, and my purple suitcase, the most incredible summer.

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Viajes y Aventuras en Perú

It’s been some time since I’ve last written a blog post. Mostly because I haven’t had the time due to traveling. Since my last post, I’ve traveled to Puno, Lago Titicaca, Mancora. More recently, I’ve visited Lima and Paracas. The sites have been incredible and definitely worth writing about. And they’ve been quite an adventure. So let’s start with Puno.

The trip began with a nice 8 hour bus ride from Cusco at 9pm. Thankfully, the bus seats reclined all the way back, although I only managed to get about 2 hours of sleep total. Once arrived in Puno, our gracious program director arranged for a hotel for 2 hours to catch up on some more sleep before we started our hikes and exploring the great Lago Titicaca.

The Lake is the highest navigable lake in the world and is considered the birthplace of the Incas. My travels started with the Uros Khantati Islands also known as the floating islands where we learned about the communities and even got to ride in a reed boat. We then traveled to one of the main lands in the lake and met the families we would be staying with. Immediately after we began our hike on Pacha Mama Mountain where we saw breathtaking views and an incredible sunset. We then dressed in traditional outfits and learned many traditional dances.

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First session classes ended which gave a week in between second session classes. A few of us decided to travel to Mancora, located in the north of Peru by the border of Ecuador. This is was one of the most peaceful and relaxing beach towns I’ve traveled to. We stayed at a surf camp that was less than 2 minutes walking from the beach. The waves were massive and the weather was the perfect temperature as opposed to the cold temperatures in Cusco. Our surf camp had a small restaurant with some of the best sushi and ceviche I’ve ever tasted in my life.

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This past weekend was the last of my travels for this summer to Lima and Paracas. But this trip wasn’t just like any regular trip I’ve taken so far. If something could go wrong, it did. From hours of delayed flights, mis-scheduled bus tickets, losing technology to the ocean, getting lost in the city, this trip really tested the nature of patience. Paracas itself is a beautiful area. And it’s the home to one of the Pre Inca civilization that was a huge corner-stone in forming the Inca civilization. We took on ATVs to see the various sites in the national reserve. We even got to visit the Islas Ballestas to see the wildlife surrounding Paracas including penguins, sea lions, and dolphins. We eventually got back to Lima (after running onto a bus, literally) and went on the search for ceviche. And we were not disappointed. All in all, this trip was quite the adventure.

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This is all just a brief summary of these beautiful places with pictures that don’t give the beauty any justice. Each trip has been filled with adventures, new experiences, wonderful people, and endless laughs.

It’s amazing to me that I have less than 4 weeks in this country. It’s even more amazing that my family will be here in 2 weeks and I get to show them the beauty I’ve been studying and living since the beginning of my college education.

For now, I’m going to stop procrastinating and finish writing an essay and studying for my exam that’s in less than an hour.

Here’s to Peru, my purple suitcase, and eventually learning the bus system before I leave.

Lecciones de Perú

My third week living in Cuzco has come to a close meaning that I only have eight more weeks in this beautiful country. I’ve already learned so many things since my arrival to the land of the llamas. Below are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned since living here and tips for getting around the city.

  1. You can’t stop walking when you cross the street. Cars will not stop for you and you may get tapped from behind by a car or bus if stopped mid street.
  2. Also getting honked at is not a sign of attention. It either means “Get out of my way” or “Taxi” (since taxi’s don’t have occupied signs). I always hope for the latter response.
  3. It’s totally okay to go to McDonald’s and have a cheeseburger after having rice and potatoes for almost every single meal.
  4. During election weekend, no alcohol of any kind is sold in restaurants or stores. Found this out the hard way.
  5. Sometimes turning off all forms of communication is really what you need to be in a full state of relaxation.
  6. I, or anyone for that matter, am not invincible to food or water of any kind in a foreign country no matter how many times I’ve traveled. You’ll get a parasite (which I did) from eating something not washed properly, or just brushing your teeth with the tap water. Just don’t do it. Because you’ll end up sitting in a hospital for hours on end, which I was lucky enough to experience.
  7. Hot water, or water pressure, is not a given in any home-stay situation.
  8. Wifi is also not a given, no matter how many times you reset the router. It just sometimes doesn’t work, for days on end (especially when you have a test or paper due within 24 hours).
  9. You can expect some form of rice and potatoes for every single meal.
  10. No matter how much you reassure your host family that you’ve had enough to eat, they don’t believe you and just keep filling up your plate. And you are expected to eat everything off of it no matter how full you are.

I’ve been having an incredible time here in Cuzco and have met some of the most amazing people. I can’t thank my host family enough for the incredible care they’ve given me, especially with the parasite fiasco (sorry mom and dad for freaking you out). Thankfully, with both the care of my host family and hospital staff, I’m parasite free and back to my normal adventure-loving self.

I was able to take on the Amazon this past weekend in Puerto Maldonado. I explored La Isla de Los Monos (Monkey Island) and Lago Sandoval (Lake Sandoval) and saw incredible wildlife and learned so much about conservation.

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Tomorrow, I’ll be traveling  back to Machu Picchu and get to explore more of the sacred city of the Incas. Hopefully, this time, I’ll be able to climb Wayna Picchu and over look the entire mountain range.

Eight weeks is just too short of a time left here. The days are flying by faster than I can count. And yet there’s still so much more left to see.

So here’s to you Peru, my purple suitcase, and hopefully not getting anymore parasites.

Bienvenido a Cuzco!

Cuzco is considered to be one the calmer cities of Peru. But I have yet to find that to be true. At any time of the day you can hear cars honking, people yelling, and the not so occasional fireworks that go off during the night. And the many stray dogs barking throughout the streets. The city is constantly moving yet they live a slower paced lifestyle.

I definitely went for the slower pace on my first day in Cuzco as I slept the majority of the day to get used to the altitude (11,000 feet) I’m now living in. And also from traveling for 24 hours. Thankfully my host family was extremely gracious and understanding in knowing sleep is essential to acclimating. And lots of cocoa tea.

Upon arrival, I met the daughter my host mom Nuri. Her, her fiance, and daughter were there to greet me while my host parents were out during the day. We ate breakfast with them as I was starving from traveling for 24 hours, and tired. The rest of the day consisted of sleeping and attempting to get acclimated to this altitude.

Greta and Oscar are the host parents are just about the most kind and humble people I’ve ever met. They’ve been married for 54 years and have many children together. When we finally met them (after sleeping most of the day), they welcomed me  with open arms.

My second day consisted of orientation with ISA and meeting the rest of the students that are going to be here for this first summer session. Some students are here for the full 11 weeks. Some here just for Summer 1 (5 weeks). Some are just in the service learning program (a volunteer placement program throughout the city of Cuzco) for the full 11 weeks. And some just in the service learning for this first summer semester. In total, there are 50 students.

My third day was supposed to be my first day of classes. But unfortunately my professor was ill and had to cancel classes until he was better. So these last two days have been exploring Cuzco. From visiting museums, local ruins, churches, and enjoying lots of Pisco, I’ve been doing as much as I can to learn more about this city.

Today, there actually was class. I started my studies in Romantic Literature of the Conquistador era. Next week, my Quechua classes will being. Quechua is an indigenous language of the Andes and is still a prevalent language today (Oscar and one of his daughters both speak the language and try to teach me a new phrase each day).

Today is also the beginning of Corpus Cristi, the celebration of the Eucharist in the Latin Catholic Church. People from all over the area as far as 15 km will walk (yes that is walk, not drive) into Cuzco to take part in the festivities tomorrow. Tomorrow is the procession where the 15 saints that are celebrated are brought all around the city to be led into the church to be able to greet the body of Christ. It’s an incredible, old, and traditional ceremony that takes place every year. The city already looks beautiful and I can’t wait to see it filled with people.

I’m so excited to be taking part in so many traditional holidays, rituals, and celebrations during my time in Cuzco. My first week(ish) has been wonderful so far and I can’t wait to see what else this summer has in store.

Here’s to you Cuzco, and of course my purple suitcase.

Here’s to Peru

So many different things are running through my head. The first and foremost is making sure I have my passport with me every 5 minutes (I almost forgot it in Columbus). The next researching how I’m going to be getting my Yellow Fever Vaccine in Cusco with just enough time before traveling to the Amazon in 2 weeks. And then wondering when I’m going to get my class schedule for the first summer semester.The last year and a half has flown by. I remember researching where I wanted to study abroad and then anxiously awaiting a reply from ISA as to whether or not I had gotten in. And now I’m getting ready to board my plane.

I may have been to Cusco before and traveled to surrounding areas. But that was only for two weeks. This time, I have no idea what to expect.

I’ll be living with a family of four and two fellow ISA students. I’ll be in classes with students all over the country. This is an experience unlike anything I’ve done yet.

Yes, I’ve traveled. Yes, I’ve traveled solo. But not like this and not for this long.

My purple suitcase (and backpack, and larger suitcase) and I are in for the adventure of a lifetime. What’s crazy to think is that my purple suitcase was purchased for my first trip to Peru. And now I’m returning, with the same suitcase, to a country that changed my perspective on everything.

I’m going to be traveling back to the charity from my first trip to see the the contribution myself and fellow students made to build a women’s center outside of Cusco. I’m going to be studying more about the Inca lifestyle, and even taking Quechua classes. I’m hoping to learn more about this beautiful country and learn even more about myself as I embark on this journey.

This blog will be my main way of documenting the experiences I’ll have, and for my mom to live viacriously through it all (because she’s always asking what I’m doing and who I’m with).

So here’s to you Peru. And of course, my purple suitcase.

Here’s to Blogging Again

It’s been 8 months since my last posting. To say that life has gotten in the way would be an understatement. But with my recent travels, and acceptance into my study abroad program for this summer, I’ve realized my purple suitcase and I are going to be very busy.

So here’s some quick updates: back in February, I was accepted into a study abroad program with International Studies Abroad (ISA) to study in Cusco, Peru this summer. I am so excited to be traveling back to the country that was the reason this whole blog came into existence. Not only that, I’m even more excited to be back in the country that made me fall in love with studying Latin American Cultures.

I’ll be using this blog to serve as updating my family, friends, and avid followers on my experiences living abroad this summer. And hopefully, my travels to other countries throughout the next year.

I’ve also been crossing some things off of my bucket list. Since the start of 2016, I’ve been able to complete two items. I’ll be posting those photos and crossing off items from my growing list.

Additionally, I’m in the final semesters of my college career, and I couldn’t be happier. I will be graduating in December and the countdown has already begun. Only 7 more classes stand in the way between me and my two degrees. The idea of being in the “real world” is something I’ve only wondered for the past four years but now, it’s closer than ever.

But until then, I plan to embrace every last moment of college I can. And I hope to be able to see as much as Peru (and South America) as I can this summer.The final adventures before stepping into the adult world have begun.

So here’s to travel, blogging, graduating, adulting, and, of course, my purple suitcase.

 

Summer Update

I’m at a point in my life where I’m constantly busy and don’t have much time to just sit and block out reality to write. But I’m working on it. Even if it means that I’ve resorted to keeping post it notes in my purse or typing down my thoughts on the notes app in my phone whenever something strikes me. I’ve taken on many things recently, and I don’t intend to stop. I’ve received some feedback on my blog over the past few months and it got me thinking about why I even started it in the first place.

Originally, it was to help cope with my move to Ohio. It was going to be an outlet for me to write about my happenings and my travels to Europe. But I eventually started making my way around Columbus and managed to get involved with a lot more than I thought I would.

I have two jobs working with the fitness centers on campus and working for a technology company. I started volunteering for the Red Cross. I became more active with fitness (punny right?). I started figure skating again. I took 17 credits in the past fall and spring terms. And I will be taking 16 credits in the fall.

So you can say that there’s a lot on my plate as it is.

But my greatest accomplishment so far has been interning with Turner Broadcasting in Los Angeles. I’ve been working with networks such as TBS, TNT, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, and TruTv. It’s opened my eyes into a whole new world, one that I have a passion of being a part of. I have a new appreciation for how much work and dedication goes into a ten second spot between shows or a content piece for an upcoming film that features actors from the film. I work (on average) 9 hour days, 5 days a week (if not more). And I love every minute of it. It’s kept my summer extremely busy and I barely have time to just sit down.

My life may be busier now. I may forget to write from time to time. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop this blogging thing. I have every intention of (attempting) to blog more.

I’m very proud of how far this blog has come. It’s been 1 year since my purple suitcase has taken the internet. And I have every intention of keeping it around. I hope that you all still continue to follow where I (and my purple suitcase) go as I start finishing my college career.

As I am entering Senior year, I hope to document more of my final year of college (still scary to even think about it). But the best part about it is that I won’t be done for 1 year and half (Yay for a victory semester).

So, as far as an update for LA goes, it’s been incredible. The highlight of the summer (and probably my life) was driving next to Jake Gyllenhaal and being able to wave and say hi. And you can bet I screamed in my car after that happened.

More recently, I turned 21 (aka twenty-fun) and got to celebrate with my friends and family. I’m still so shocked my parents and brother came out to LA to celebrate. You never know how much you miss your family when a couple thousand miles suddenly keep you apart.

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California has been treating me well. I am in the right place at the right time for probably the first time in my life. A lot of things happened at the end of my junior year and coming to California let me forget about the bad, embrace the good, and just move on. I’ve learned so much about marketing and they type of industry I want to work in. I’m very lucky and grateful to have been given this opportunity.

As I’m finishing up my internship and getting ready to tackle on the remainder of college (still scary to even think about), I’ve been able to realize that I’m at a great place in my life. And I know that I can only go up from here.

I will be back in Ohio in just three short days. And can’t wait to see what this next chapter brings (hopefully, with more blogging).

Until next time, Happy Travels

Positive Changes Part 2

With lent being over, I can truly say my outlook on things has gotten significantly better. In my most recent post (Positive Changes Part 1) I talked about my lenten challenge for myself: to radiate positivity. And in doing so, I have had the best outcomes.

First, I GOT AN INTERNSHIP IN LOS ANGELES. (Yes I can only express that in all caps). I’m so excited to be interning this summer with Turner Broadcasting.

A little background on how I got this opportunity: I applied to 45 different companies. And within those companies, I filled out 105 applications. Yes that number is right: one hundred and five. And from those applications, I received 30 denial emails (not from multiple companies, but for positions) and 3 offers to interview. So, that means I never got an answer from 72 different positions. You can say I was pretty upset at the very least.

But the day I received my email from Turner asking to interview, I was ecstatic. I actually jumped out of my chair at work (and sort of scared a customer). On the day I received a phone call of the offer to intern I was jumping up and down, crying, and smiling.

For the first time in my life, it feels like all of my hard work is finally coming together. I feel like I’ve finally made my parents extremely proud. This is a major accomplishment in my life and I can’t wait to see everything that comes with this opportunity.

Positive Changes (Part One)

Almost Halfway through Lent, and I’ve still stayed true to my promise: to think more positively

Lent (for those non-religious) is typically about letting go of something for 40 days to reflect more on your religion and yourself. For religious purposes, it’s about letting go of something that holds back your relationship to God. It’s a time of reflection and a time of change. It really can test a person on what they can do. This year, I’ve taken on 2 challenges: letting go of negative thinking and to promote positivity in my life.

I’m generally not the most optimistic person about my life. I’ve had a lot of hardships come at me (especially recently). And with midterms approaching along with internship deadlines and interviews, it couldn’t be a more stressful time. But for myself, this time couldn’t be more perfect in thinking more positively. It’s easy to just focus on the negative and think about what could go wrong. So instead of that, I am looking towards what is good in my life. I am focusing on what is good. Because truly, the good always outweighs the bad

For those who chose to partake in Lent this year, keep going strong. You can do this. It’s all worth it in the end. For myself, I’ll be making a lifestyle change in (hopefully) having a better outlook on life. I’ll be posting at the end of Lent about my journey through this. So far, things have been challenging (surprisingly). But I’m learning a lot more about myself and on what I’m capable of doing.

Until then, Happy Travels

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