Natey Cook 
2012-13 Outbound to Peru
Hometown: Tallahassee, FL
School: Lincoln High School
Sponsor: District 6940, FL
Host: District 4450, Peru
The Rotary Club of San Borja Sur

October 10, 2012
Traveling to Peru: I left to Peru on the evening of July 27th, planning to arrive in Lima the next morning around 4:30. The whole week leading up to this adventure flew by, and the emotions that came with it were indescribable. I was so nervous for this new life and new school and new country, but so incredibly excited that I almost didn’t feel anything but the need to say my goodbyes to my dear friends and family during this last week and in the airport. All of my flights went according to schedule and I arrived in Gorge Chavez International Airport only half an hour late. I was greeted by my brother who was spying from the second floor gesturing and pointing, and just after I found my family with open arms. The following day I slept until around 10 or 11 in the morning and was sweetly welcomed to the table for a perfect Peruvian breakfast. That evening my family and I went over the first night questions and was able to feel more at home knowing the little things of my house and of my family.

I attend a school called Nuestra Señora de La Merced. If you decide to do an exchange to South America, it is most likely that you will receive a catholic school like mine. The hours of “La Merced” are very similar to the high schools of Florida. But that’s about the only similarity. Each student in “colegio” technically has about 20 classes on a block schedule that maintains a schedule for every week. School is incredibly boring just like in Florida but it is a lot harder to understand the material.

The FOOD of Peru may very well be the best in the world, or at least in all the Americas. This isn’t a super important theme in my journal, but I thought it at least needed a paragraph. But seriously, Peruvian food is so good. Every day I have the opportunity to eat fresh bread from our panadería, and to eat the fresh food that my mom cooks that almost always has rice, delicious chicken or other meat, with the world famous Peruvian potato.

I have been in the great Peru for a little over two months. In the week leading up to my exchange I doubted my decision to become an exchange student only a few times. But now understanding a lot more of the language and culture, and having made many friends in my school and from other exchange students, I can only imagine myself making this great decision to come to Peru. If you are considering becoming an exchange student, and are reading this journal, first, you should start making the decision and the application, and then you should pick Peru to be the country where you do your exchange. I am so pleased that I have made that decision and am forever thankful to Rotary.

January 16, 2013

Having been in Perú for about five and a half months, i feel like i can say that I love this country. Although you have to get used to what you do everyday on exchange in order to have a stable life that is exchange, to me, everyday is still an adventure. I have learned so much in the time that i´ve been here about the language, the food, the history, and of course the general culture of Peru but I still have so much to learn.

Since the last journal so much has happened. Christmas and New Year´s passed and then of course the first big switch to my second host family. My Peruvian christmas will be something that i never forget. This is because it was so exciting and so not at all what my Florida Christmas´ are like. For some reason Peruvians celebrate Christmas evening how I would think to celebrate New Year´s. I mean once the clock hits the 25th of December, at 12 midnight it becomes Christmas and for my family and all of Lima, it was time to celebrate. All the Christmas Eve i was out shopping with my host mom or chilling and helping out with my little host siblings. At one time that day i had to carry a huge turkey down the street three blocks to the Bakery so that they could oven our turkey. Finally when the time became midnight, we went outside with our small fireworks and started to send them off, with half our attention on ours and the other on the others that you could make o ut from other neighborhoods. When the fireworks died down we went inside to eat our turkey as a family. Right after dinner we ran in to the living room to open the presents. There were only few presents under the Christmas tree, this was only because my little brothers are "older" (12,12 and 17) and because of that each of them got a present or two. So then the overall present exchange time was about 8-10 minutes. After that we all went to bed. All that had just happened was so exciting! But Christmas had already ended, and the whole rest of the day was almost already back to normal, which for me was crazy because for me it was Christmas! Most of the time in my exchange i haven't missed my parents and family too horribly, but Christmas day was a low for me for sure. There was nothing to do but lay around the house and think of my family back n Florida.

But New Year´s was better. It wasn't especially Peruvian because i went to the party with the other exchange students but it was really fun. We just went to the beach at midnight and hung out. Then at midnight you could see the fireworks from what seemed like all of Lima, this is from the view of the beach.
Right now i´m living with my second host family. The time before moving really feels like you´re doing a whole other exchange. I was nervous and anxious just like i was before leaving to come here. It´s weird but its true. You have to leave what you have been growing close to for 5 months to join another family. But now that i´m here, been here for 11 days, i already feel more comfortable and the change is incredibly less shocking. Right now in the southern hemisphere it´s Summer! Because of the that I'm in classes like painting and I´m also learning the super Peruvian dance: The Marinera. Summer in Peru is so much fun, with the beach so close and with tons of things to do in Lima, Exchange is just treating me so good.
With about 4 and a half months in front of me, my language is still developing. I still have to have to pick out the new words that i don´t know or understand, but because of that I'm learning everyday, and my pronunciation is so much better. With all of this said, i still have so much to work on, but each time you know you say something right, it´s so satisfying and rewarding. Thank you a thousand more times to Rotary for this amazing exchange and this opportunity for me to know another part and culture of the world.

April 17, 2013

Well, the time that I have left on my exchange is drastically escaping me. I only have until the end of June to be here in Peru. The only thing I can do now is take advantage and enjoy every second of my remaining exchange.

Now that its April, I have had the opportunity to know the majority of my host Country, and learn very well the city in which I live. That part for me is one of the best parts of exchange. The knowledge and know's/where's about to get around the city comfortably and with ease. At least for Lima (although I've seen this in other countries as well), we have this free private system of buses that goes throughout every part of the city. One of the best feelings that you can feel as a American exchange student in Peru is the ability/success of getting to anywhere in the city. This feeling is the exact same with the knows-abouts of the language in my experience. Even though I still study the language in attempt to improve, THOSE conversations when you nail every word and phrase fooling the Peruvian into thinking you are a Peruvian as well is the same ecstasy. That is the best part of my exchange here in Peru, being Peruvian.

Not very many things have changed since my last journal entry. I have stayed with my second host family in order to go and study in a university. I'm not sure but I think that Peru is the only country where you can study the second half of the year in a college. College life in Lima is the best. With about 4 classes in a week, that gives tons of time to go surfing and hang out with friends a lot more than you study.

Staying with my second host family had another positive side. With my host dad having a ridiculous job something like The general head of the Peruvian Civil Defense, and with the host mom with her own negocios, they are pretty well off. With thier extra time and money they love to travel and take the kids + me which is great because they take places that Rotary's trips don't, with the causuality of a small family vacation. With them I have seen the whole beautiful northern Pacific coast of Peru, along with cruising on a boat among the Amazon River.

My Rotary exchange is treating me great. I love taking each day at a time appreciating the fact the fact I'm here. Thank you a million times Rotary and Rotarians that have made this possible both back in the Promise Land of Florida and here in Peru. Thank you and ¡¡¡VIVA EL DISTRITO 6940!!!