One year ago...
My Spanish LSA+ (advanced language study abroad) in Peru came up for what seems to be the millionth time at a recent club swim dinner. One of our new team members, a veteran in the class of ’22, inquired about my trip. I always have a lot to say about it: I consider my LSA+ to be one of the defining parts of my college experience.
In honor of the anniversary of my off-campus adventure, here are nine pictures from Peru and nine ways my LSA+ changed my life:
- No. 1
I grew so much as a Spanish speaker
My reading and listening comprehension improved exponentially, I confronted some of my common grammar mistakes through writing essays, and I became less afraid to speak to others with less-than-perfect Spanish. I feel like a huge part of the world has opened up to me now that I understand Spanish, and that is incredibly exciting.
- No. 2
I realized how Eurocentric education is in the U.S.
The Incans were geniuses. Traditional social structures of Andean living even before that (look up "ayllu") functioned so well that it's amazing that I'd never heard of them before. But of course, the class that everyone has to take in high school is AP European History, not "AP Peruvian History."
- No. 3
Peruvian literature is amazing
We were lucky enough to have a Peruvian literature class with a well-known local author, and he introduced us to texts that helped us to understand past and present-day Peru. I highly suggest Death in the Andes by Mario Vargas Llosa. Finishing Rosa Cuchillo by Óscar Colchado has been on my bucket list since I read selected chapters for class while on break in the Amazon.
- No. 4
I am very aware of how I am perceived as a woman in the U.S. versus in Peru
This is more of a two-hour conversation subject, but having a host mom ask your friend why she's going to college if she's just going to marry and have kids is very telling of gender roles in Peru. It was also weird to have my host dad tell me that he could "trust Dartmouth women to keep ourselves safe because we were much more mature and 'with it' than Peruvian girls of our same age." I've thought about and discussed this topic a great deal since returning to campus.
- No. 5
I gained an appreciation for potable and hot water
In Peru, tap water is not safe to drink. It's a pain to have to buy bottled water all the time, but even more a pain to have to deal with the public health effects of dirty water. It's also amazing that we get on demand hot water with good pressure in our dorms here in Hanover. Showers were much more finicky in Peru.
- No. 6
I had the opportunity to take a class with Liniers
When I came back to Dartmouth in the winter, I was at the right point along the Spanish minor track that I could take a class with Liniers (Profe Siri), one of the most famous comic artists from South America. It turned out to be one of my favorite classes, as I was exposed to the diversity of the Spanish language and joined in on the glee my good friend from El Salvador had from taking a class with the creator of a comic strip she had grown up reading.
- No. 7
I will never complain about slow Wi-Fi ever again
Peruvian Wi-Fi is pretty bad. Many times I couldn't get a video to load on Youtube. We usually went to cafes to get better Wi-Fi. Dartmouth could not function as it currently does on Peruvian WI-Fi. Uploading the pictures for this blog post would have been near impossible. I'm very thankful for the fast speeds here.
- No. 8
Discoteca music is so fun. Daddy Yankee, Luis Fonsi, Bad Bunny... 'nuff said.
- No. 9
My friend became my best friend
I met Erica in Spanish 9. We did our final project together, but I wouldn't have called us good friends at that point. Going to Peru cemented our friendship. We looked after one another and walked home from school together (an hour long walk) many days. She had to be hospitalized in the U.S. for amoebic dysentery, salmonella, and a secondary infection in the middle of the program, but didn't let that stop her from coming back and getting the most out of our LSA+. I'm pretty sure our friendship will last a lifetime and it all started with our adventures in Peru.