Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola Review (1)

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From the beginning it was clear that I wanted to do my semester abroad in a Spanish-speaking country and since South America has always fascinated me, this decision was made quickly. What turned out to be more difficult for me as a dual student, however, was to find a university that fits the rhythm of the DH course and that also offers English courses. USIL came at the right time. (At that time I didn’t know that I could not take all courses in English in the end).

USIL offers around 20-25 courses from all areas in English, in which, with a little goodwill from the home university, you can also find 4-5 suitable courses. The offer ranges from Introduction to Wine to International Business and Monetary Theory. You can also get the list in advance. Since my university unfortunately insisted on very special courses (e.g. International Finance or Intercultural Management), I had to switch to 3 Spanish courses despite having very little knowledge of Spanish (but I was the exception there, with almost everyone who only wanted English courses also finally worked). For me it was a blessing in the end, because you can’t learn a language faster as if one is forced to use and understand them on a daily basis. And I have to say that (despite initial difficulties) that worked really well. I arrived at the university with a year of Spanish as a basis and would say that I can now exchange ideas on most topics fairly fluently.

The organization of the university is really good in a South American comparison. But please don’t expect too much! At USIL, too, there are a lot of inefficient processes, rules that nobody understands and you have to annoy the International Office 3 times to get your certificate, but the organization is still really good for South America. What you have to know about the Peruvian university system is that it is very “school”. Tests are written almost every week, “homework” is given, etc. The positive effect of this is that you not only depend on an exam in the semester, but can improve your grade with smaller projects or tests. Getting a 1.0 is therefore more difficult, but getting a 2.0 is all the easier. But that shouldn’t be the main reason for a semester abroad anyway.

Whoever arrives in Lima in March can enjoy the bright Peruvian sun for about two more months, get a sunburn while relaxing in the courtyard during the breaks and buy as much ice cream as he can eat for a few cents at the kiosk next door. If you are lucky enough to get hold of an apartment in Miraflores, possibly with a view of the sea, you can look forward to the perfect summer and live near countless bars, discos, cafes, parks etc… In Lima not boring. There are also a lot of student groups on FB etc. who organize trips, parties, get-togethers. If you want to do all of them, you can’t go to college anymore. Small warning: from Miraflores it is about 1 hour by bus / combi to La Molina.

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For those who prefer it quieter or who are considering living with a family anyway, should look around directly in La Molina. There you will find everything you need for your daily needs, you are right near the university and most Peruvians live outside the city center. To celebrate, you can still quickly take a taxi into town (€ 5-8 per trip). I myself lived in Miraflores for the first month in a 4 shared flat on the 13th floor with a view of the sea and really enjoyed the time there. The only drawback: I had to be at the university 3 times a week at 7 a.m. (i.e. out of the house before 6 a.m.) and no Spanish was spoken in my shared apartment, which for me, since I now had 3 Spanish courses and as soon as possible Wanted to learn Spanish, unfortunately it was a knockout criterion.

For the remaining 3 months I lived with a really lovely family in La Molina and also found a lot of things to be very positive here. The proximity to the university is unbeatable, you can just have a coffee with Peruvian friends without thinking about having to drive home for an hour afterwards, but for me personally it was also a very enriching experience to live with a Peruvian family. It has to be said that without contact and tips / advice from locals you won’t get very far and one or the other will be nastily surprised if you only rely on your European habits. Be it about understanding the bus system, asking where you can get certain kitchen utensils or how you can be sure that the mail arrives. Without local support, nothing works quickly anymore, so, as is so often the case: questions, questions, questions instead of trying to do everything yourself (honorable approach but unfortunately quite often doesn’t work in South America).

You also learn so much more about the culture in a host family than in a shared flat with internationals, but the decision has to be made by everyone, because admittedly it also requires a lot of change and diplomacy to live with a family again after you’ve been in Germany for a few Years ago (PS: Host parents also ask where you are going and how long you want to stay away).

And finally, a few short words about traveling in Peru, because you don’t need many words: Peru is unbelievably beautiful and unforgettable! The possibilities are almost unlimited and with a clever timetable planning at the university you can travel elsewhere every weekend. One weekend in the mountains to Arequipa to visit the Colca Canyon, the next to Mancora to the sea to relax and swim with turtles, the third to the Amazon to explore the jungle of Peru and then to Ica for sandboarding and sealing in watching in the wild. I say nothing more about this…

I can only advise anyone thinking about spending a semester in South America to do it in Perú! The country is incredible, the people are super open and Peru is one of the few countries that speak “pure” Spanish that you can understand (I can say from experience! – I’m in Chile right now). Therefore, Perú is the perfect country to learn the language, no matter how much previous knowledge you have – you learn incredibly quickly! So dare to jump into the Peru adventure, it’s worth it!

Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola (2)

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