Hello! My name is Nathaniel (Natey) Cook and by the Rotary Youth Exchange program I will be departing to Peru this next year. I am fifteen years old and attend Lincoln High School as a sophomore. I live in Tallahassee, Florida and live with my family at home. I live with my mom and dad but am still close with my brother and sister that have both left for college. There is also a dog and cat mixed in there somewhere as well. I have always been passionate about traveling and exploring, whether it has been with local trips with the family or mission trips with the church internationally. Some other passions of mine include the game of soccer. The sport I love (which I may or may not be good at) really shapes my schedule because I play on a traveling team and my schools’ team. Hanging out with my friends and family is also an important aspect in my busy life. When I first heard about this program, I was interested and wished to be a part of something huge like this. The idea of immersing oneself in another culture for a year is daring and awesome, and from then, I was motivated to do this with the support from my family and close friends. Now, with this whole experience in front of me, I am ecstatic, but definitely scared as well. I am jumbled with the fear of not comprehending the language, but I am also strengthened with confidence and support. In the final last words of this bio, I would like to thank Rotary for this thrilling opportunity, to which I gladly accept.
Natey- Outbound to Peru
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.
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 ofcourse
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 atention 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
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 shockful. Right now
in the southern hemisphere it´s Summer! Because of the that im 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 infront 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 im 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
satisfyiing and rewarding. Thank you a thousand more times to Rotary for
this amazing exchange and this oppurtunity for me to know another part and
culture of the world.
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 oppurtunity 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. Atleast 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 frase fooling the Peruvian into thinking you
are a Peruvian aswell 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 haved
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 clases in a week, that gives tons of time to go surfing and
hang out with friends alot 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
aprecciating 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!!!