Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola Review (5)
I spent the last winter semester 2018/19 in Lima, at the Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola – Lima and had the opportunity to get to know and travel to the country of Peru and its culture. It was five exciting and eventful months and I hope to give you a little impression of my time here.
10 million people live in Lima, that is a third of the entire Peruvian population. Until I got there, I didn’t realize what that meant and I think I still can’t assess the overall size of this city. It’s a mishmash of glass skyscrapers, chic houses with bouncers and small huts. In between there are old VW buses and Beetles, which sometimes you don’t know whether they will fall apart at the next stroke, and new red Ferraris and Porsches. Some streets are sparkling clean and then you turn a corner and there is rubbish on the street and street dogs are running around. There are chic restaurants and small stalls selling tamales and street food.
My world consisted mainly of the three quarters of Miraflores, Barranco and La Molina. All three richer and therefore safer quarters. We were advised against staying alone in the other quarters, as it can be a bit uncomfortable there.
During an action in which we cast a staircase out of clay, I still had the opportunity to get to know the “other”, perhaps also truer Lima. There is no running water, electricity or paved roads and the poverty of the country becomes very evident.
- Learn more information about Peru and South America on thedresswizard.
When it’s not rush hour, Lima has a very well-functioning bus system that can get you anywhere for a few cents. That too is always an experience – loud, Latin American, sometimes very romantic music and at the traffic lights the drivers leaf through the newspaper or do a Sudoku.
I went to university three days a week. Always from 9 a.m. to afternoon or evening. For me, the university was significantly different from what I was used to at home. You have to cooperate and you have to be present. There are exams twice a semester and there are regular tests and presentations. I often sat at my desk on my days off and on weekends, writing summaries and essays. Often this seemed to me to be very unnecessary and stupid and not very demanding in terms of content, but simply time-consuming. It became clear to me how different the system is here, but the Peruvian students don’t know it any differently and probably need it too. Especially with group work it became clear that the way of working here is very dependent and unreliable.
But it’s also fun, I’ve had five courses: Ethics, Peruvian Economy, Global Business Strategy, International Human Resources (IHR), and Spanish. All courses were in English and I had YOUR online course. That means that you got videos with the course content every week and had to hand in assignments. Especially my Spanish course was great. When I arrived in Lima, I could hardly speak any Spanish, so I took an elementary course. The lecturer was very good and nice and I can now communicate on simple everyday topics.
I lived with four other girls in a cozy house in Barranco, a bohemian neighborhood by the sea that is a little more relaxed than the rest of Lima. My rent was $ 300, the normal price for a student room.
The university, however, was a little further away from our neighborhood, which means that we always had to take a taxi. The traffic in Lima is a disaster and even if the distance is only 16km, it sometimes took us 1 1/2 hours to drive. With the bus it would be three… The taxi costs more, but it was worth it for me to avoid the stressful bus journey.
Of course, I got to know a lot of people at university and there was a lot of program, especially at the beginning. We were about 100 international students and from the university there are the Embassadors, Peruvian students who look after us, go out with us or organize other activities. There is definitely always something to do. Sometimes we were partying, sometimes we were playing football, eating something or at a house party. Reggaeton music is always playing in discos and it’s fantastic to see how the Peruvians dance to it and sing along loudly to every song.
On my days off, I mostly went surfing in our landlord’s surf school or looked around the city and my neighborhood. There are always markets in Lima and there is a lot of culture and art on offer. I had a salsa class for a while.
Due to the many climatic zones that exist in Peru, there are a variety of vegetables and fruits throughout the year. Even now in winter there is passion fruit, mango, strawberries and pineapple. There are 100 sorts of potatoes and corn. Popcorn of all tastes is sold everywhere. There is a large local market 10 minutes from our apartment, where I always bought my fruit and vegetables. The woman at the fruit stand knew me and was very patient with explaining new types of fruit and vegetables to me and communicating with me with hands and feet.
Peruvians are incredibly proud of their cuisine and when you bring up the subject, all eyes start to shine. Cocinero (cook) is a highly recognized profession in Peru. Gaston Acurio is one of the most famous chefs and almost a national hero. If he wanted, the Peruvians would make him president straight away.
There is: ceviche, raw fish in lime, chilli, onion sauce. Lomo Saltado, beef in a tomato onion sauce. Anticucho, beef heart. Pollo (chicken) in all varieties. Chifa, Asian fried rice Peruvian style and much more. I haven’t tried everything myself in five months. In small restaurants there are always lunch menus for 8-10 soles (2-3 euros), with a starter, main course (mostly rice, chicken and potatoes, differently seasoned) and a drink. Mostly chicha (corn juice) or passion fruit juice. The portions are always so big that I was full for the rest of the day afterwards. But then there are also delicious desserts and tarts and churros…
I often cooked at home and especially enjoyed the variety of fruits. The avocados here are just delicious!
On the weekends I also had the opportunity to travel to this incredibly exciting and varied country. I was sandboarding in the desert, to the white watch whales sandy beaches in the north have nestled in the Amazon with a sloth and worms ate a piece of’m Inca Trail to Machu Picchu went and was in the salt desert of Bolivia.