Taylor, Outbound to Peru

Whoever said exchange wasn’t easy was definitely not lying. It’s so easy to be frustrated especially when you don’t know the language. One time I was cleaning my house and my mom began shouting instructions at me in Spanish but I didn’t understand her so she got frustrated and would shout louder. After she calmed down I explained that I simply didn’t understand, but in her mind I was being lazy and disobedient. There have been so many incidences of miscommunication here, most of which are hilarious. Like that I meant to say that I fell but said I crapped myself or accidentally told my class I’m in a gang. Now I understand why they asked me if I ever killed someone. Not only is it frustrating on my end but for my family and peers as well. At times, people give up talking to me because it takes awhile, they just straight up stop talking and walk away. When it first started happening, I wanted to crawl into a shell and hide from everyone then I wouldn’t have to talk and risk feeling horrible about my Spanish. However, I just kept in my broken, caveman Spanish so now it has improved substantially during conversations. At first, reading and writing was easier but now I think speaking is at the same level as reading. Also, now, there when times I can talk for hours on end in Spanish. It really depends on my brain in the moment. The weirdest part is forgetting English. The other day I was at a sleepover and my friend’s grandmother asked me how to say veterinario in English, I still cannot say it right. Aside from the language, adapting to the culture in Lima is somewhat easier than other cities. Lima is more westernized and honestly districts like Miraflores or Barranco can be compared to San Fran, Chicago, L.A., or NYC. But if you really want to feel at home Plaza de Armas de San Miguel hits the spot. It’s full of brands from the U.S. and even has a Lego store. It’s the perfect place you go to if you are feeling homesick. No lie, it’s just like any basic mall back home. But nothing beats traditional Peruvian culture, it’s so warming and inviting. During our first trip, we went to the island Amantani in the middle of Lago Titicaca. Its inhabitants are usually garbed traditional Andean clothes: polleras, k'eperinas, ponchos, chullos, etc. And it’s one thing to walk around natives, live near them for a few days, and learn their customs; it’s a whole other thing to walk WITH them, live WITH them, and ADOPT their customs. There was this one night that felt so surreal. All the exchange students were presented with traditional clothes to wear, clothes that felt as if someone was giving you a warm embrace, ones you didn’t want to take off. They told us that we would meet up in the Plaza de Armas and when we got there we saw a huge fire lit on the ground. Then, we danced. We danced to the sound of Huayno which flowed into our blood. It was as if someone put a spell on us, we were not ourselves. Just locked in a trance hopping and giggling around an enormous flame.

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