¡Viva Perú! A country we should all be lucky enough to experience. Past Review

By (The University of Texas at Austin) - abroad from 03/06/2013 to 07/10/2013 with

Pontifical Catholic University of Peru / PUCP: Lima - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Well, this is broad. I learned a lot about myself, socially. I'm more sure of the types of people I do and do not want to associate with. I also learned that flexibility goes a long way in a country like Perú: everything from the transit system to the service sector is informal and requires a bit of aggressiveness to get what you need. For me, it wasn't a culture-shock, if that even exists, but rather an interesting look at how people, regardless of socioeconomic and cultural differences, are remarkably similar across the globe.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Everyone at UT told me how terribly difficult La Católica would be. It was not. I barely worked, except during mid-terms and finals. Granted, I was only enrolled in 4 courses (15 hours), but I had probably 15 reading assignments for all of my classes total for the entire semester. It was great, since I got to travel and miss class and not really worry about my grades falling, but it should be said that studying the night before is typically more than enough to get a 17. At least for me it was. My professors were great, due in part to the great advantage we have as international students: the first week, we're allowed to audit all of the courses we want and choose from those. So I was able to abandon the courses where the professor seemed awful.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Well-organized, but the lady in charge was very unfriendly and always seemed to be put out when I asked for standard services.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I paid a bit more than most for a "student house," but I'm glad I did. I lived with 10 other international students and loved every moment of it. (I lived in Lince, which is not the most vibrant, but by far the most central neighborhood for everything you need to do in Lima.)

* Food:

Peruvian food is wonderful, if fattening.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I met some great Peruvians here, but ended up spending a lot of my time with international students. It's not easy to integrate with Peruvians in the academic setting.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

La Católica has a great health clinic, but you do have to pay extra. Not much by US standards, but still a chunk of change. I also had to go once for an illness to the local "posta médica" in Lince, where, for a medical consultation and antibiotic treatment, I was charged S/. 4 (about $1.60). So that was great. Of course your international health insurance will cover that, but I'm not going to bother going through the process of reimbursement for $1.60. The facilities are shabby at best, but the doctors are qualified, and as long as you ask someone how everything works, you'll have no trouble getting treated. The equivalent experience (doctor visit + medicine) at the Clínica (private hospital) near my house would have cost about S/. 300+ (about $125). Granted, the facilities are nicer and the receptionists have prettier clothes, but to me the posta médica was the obvious choice. Just be brave and ask people how things work. You don't need to schedule an appointment at the Clínica for routine/easily-treatable conditions.

* Safety:

I never had any problems with safety. The advice I've heard over and over is: (1) don't open the door for anyone at night, unless you're expecting guests. (2) never take an unlicensed taxi. (3) ladies, always call a private taxi at night. Generally, don't be a dunce and you'll be fine. Common sense and awareness of your surroundings goes a long way. Lima has this reputation for being crime-ridden and dangerous, but if you observe normal city precautions, you probably won't have any problems.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

It's pretty cheap to get by in Lima. My biggest expenses per month were rent ($300/month), food (about $80/month), and going out.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Save your money for travelling while you're here. Peru is incredibly ecologically and culturally rich, and you don't want to sacrifice a flight to the jungle for a night at a fancy club in Barranco.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

No "encouragement," but everything was in Spanish so I had to use Spanish.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Advanced Spanish linguistics.
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Speak it. It seems lame, but insist to your housemates that you speak Spanish when in the house. There's no harm in speaking your native language with friends once in a while, in fact, it's necessary for your sanity, but just be brave and make mistakes. No one's going to laugh at you, honestly. Try to get past only using Spanish during transactions. Interact with people, and participate in your classes, even though it's nerve-wracking. While in the states, there's a few things you can do ("Practica Platica" is an example of student group for speaking Spanish), but you're really only going to improve notably once you're here.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The independence granted. There was only one required orientation session.
  • No Visa fee!
* What could be improved?
  • The registration process is ridiculous. Local students can register online, but we had to do this time-wasting "lottery" process to get our classes.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Students in Perú often start college at age 16-17. If you don't want to take classes with 17-year-olds, don't take classes in "Estudios Generales Letras" or "Estudios Generales Ciencias." Rather, take courses that specifically apply to the upper-division portion of your major (in "Facultad"), so you'll be around more mature students that are your age.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.