IU Study Abroad in Peru, Week 3

Hello again everyone and welcome to the third week of my blog, study abroad edition. Last week was my first week of classes here and I'm sure that you are all just dying to know how it went.

  • Was Chris able to understand his professors?
  • Could he find all of his classes?
  • Did he get beaten up and have his lunch money stolen?

Well my loyal readers, the answers to your questions are yes, yes, and no. Last week all foreign exchange students had the week to try out different courses in order to decide which ones to sign up for at the beginning of this week. I tried out various courses and, by the end of the week, had decided to take Amazonian Ethnography, Current Peruvian Social Issues, Cinema, and a seminar in medical anthropology. Alas, when this Monday came around, though I arrived an hour early for registration, half of these classes were already full. Thus, I will now be taking Andean Ethnography, Social Communication, Cinema, and a seminar in medical anthropology. Now that I am all signed up for classes, all I need to do is make up for the week of class that I missed in two of these courses.

I'm sure, that while you all find my matriculation misadventures fascinating, you are all dying to know about the college culture of PUCP. Also, some of you may be wondering, are there any student organizations here for foreign students to take part in. Well, wonder no more my friends, for I will fill you in on this important information. As for college culture, the school is the top university in Peru. Therefore, the majority of the students are quite smart and, by Peruvian standards, very well off. The general atmosphere of the campus is fairly liberal, and as such, the students are fond of taking up various social causes, but more on that later. There are numerous student organizations to get involved with as well here at PUCP. There are a plethora of sport clubs offered, from rugby to chess (though I'm not sure that I think the latter is actually a sport), and so, there is something for everyone. Furthermore, there are many volunteering opportunities, political, and environmental clubs here as well. 

Like most college students the world over the student body of PUCP finds various social causes to promote, and enjoys holding the occasional protest or rally in order to stick it to "the man." As a matter of fact, going on strike and holding protests seems to be a bit of a national hobby here, and since my arrival three weeks ago Peru has hosted an ongoing strike of doctors in Lima working for the Peruvian social security program, "Essalud," a strike of public transportation workers (resulting in the crippling of all public transport throughout Lima), various protests, some violent, nationwide protests against an unpopular mining corporation called "Conga" (one of which I had the pleasure of witnessing personally because it occurred on PUCP campus), and a rather bloody confrontation between two cities in southern Peru arguing over their respective borders, just to name a few. It seems as if every other day there is some new, fascinating instance of civil discord to catch one's attention.

(Essalud Protest: Sort of like the occupy movement but with lab coats)

But think not, my friends, that it has been all fun and games here in Peru. On the contrary, aside from my rigorous academic ventures, I have also partaken in some serious tourism. Aside from local attractions and museums, and other such cultural institutions with my fellow students here, I have also gone on a rather harrowing excursion to a fortress/military museum/active military installation with a group of exchange students, not far from Lima. Upon our arrival after a one hour bus ride and 2 kilometer trek, we were informed by the guards that, for foreigners, the price of admission to the museum was twice that of admission for a Peruvian. Though price gouging in order to take advantage of foreigners is common practice here, from street vendors to buses to restaurants, we found this instance to be particularly egregious. After an hour of intense negotiations with Peruvian military personnel we were able to cut the price down to only 75 percent more than what a Peruvian would pay. We then embarked on what would turn out to be a three hour tour through the bowels of the fortress. We were met, along the way, by a singing pirate, replicas of Peruvian military uniforms, and monuments to Peruvian heroes. All the while were were kindly goaded along and encouraged to keep moving and stay with the group by our lovely tour guide, a soldier armed with a megaphone. After this we all went to a restaurant for a pleasant meal amongst us exchange students and our Peruvian friends. Unfortunately, here another egregious instance of price gouging occurred, and a rather lively hour long argument occurred between the Peruvian students with us, and restaurant management, resulting in about half of our party getting up and leaving the restaurant, while the other half (including myself), stayed to enjoy the local cuisine. After this last adventure, we decided to call it a day, and return to Lima.

I shall leave you with a lovely picture of me valiantly manning the cannons of the fortress and fending off the pirate hoards (located just out of the picture).

Until Next Time,

Christopher Moore


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