31.08.2015 - 03.09.2015 72 °F
I had started writing something very lengthy and wonderful and it never saved, so that is why this is my first post since I have arrived in Lima. I was very frustrated and have since calmed down.
My journey to Lima was ... emotional. When I was going through security in Columbus, I didn't cry as much as I thought that I would. My send off team consisted of my grandma, my mom, my sister, my YEO and his wife, Oana (the best French exchange student in 6690 that I have ever met who I love dearly and is amazing and hi Oana I miss you very much make sure you don't leave without me coming home first so I can see you again), and the past YEO for my club. My mom cried a little, my grandma got teary eyed, my sister seemed a little down, but everyone else was cheerful and positive and I was somewhere in between. I was excited to get through the gate, because that signified that I had initially started my exchange and there was no going back.
The first thing I did when I got through security was go to Starbucks and get myself a Venti Hot Chocolate and 2 liters of Fiji water. I have flown before, but not for more than 3 hours, and I was told to stay hydrated because I will dry out at 37,000 feet. My flight from Columbus to Dallas was really quick and pleasant. I sat next to a really nice guy who was on his way to Seattle to return to base. He was young, not some creepy old man. He let me have his window seat and I thought that was really nice.
My flight to Dallas was not so pleasant. Initially, everything was going well. We got on the plane and everything was settled, we were on the tarmac ready to take off and then the pilot came over the speaker and told us that a fuel pump was out and while there are certain fuel pumps we could safely fly without, this happened to be an important one (of course), and we would have to return to the gate and have it repaired. So, we returned to the gate, but the repair couldn't happen and so we ended up having to get off the plane and waited for a replacement plane (which was supposed to be the same model-but wasn't). I flew to Lima in a 767 and had a whole section of 3 seats to myself. So, I was supposed to take off at 10:15 PM on Monday, but we didn't leave until 1:30 AM on Tuesday morning which means....
I got to Lima around 7:45 AM! I had been in contact with my host mom every time I was updated on my flight status. Neglecting to tell my host mom about my flight status would have subjected her to sitting at the airport from 5:00 AM (because my original arrival was at 5:22) until around 8:00 when I got there, and that would not have been a good first impression, plus that would have been really inconsiderate.
The last actual meal I had before flying was around 1:00 PM on Monday. Dinner on my flight to Lima was served at like 2:00 AM, maybe 3:00 (I had to wake myself up if I wanted to be served food so I don't remember), and it was disgusting. Breakfast or "Breakfast" was a fruit cup and 2 crackers and I was too nervous/too excited about my exchange to eat that, so I just gave it back. It wasn't until Tuesday afternoon after my nap that I would have A) my first Peruvian meal and B) food and C) real food (take notes American Airlines).
The Youth Exchange President of Peru and my host mom picked me up from the airport. Once I landed, customs and immigration were really fast and easy and my bags were already ready at baggage claim so there was practically no wait time for anything.
Henry (the youth exchange president), drove my mom and me to the house and bid us goodbye. My mom devoted Tuesday to some "R&R" (rest and relaxation). I tried to convince myself that I wasn't tired and that I wanted to go out and do everything and anything, but as soon as I got into my room, I fell asleep for hours.
The picture is of my first Peruvian meal that my wonderful host mamí served me on my first day.
That night I went to the mall with her, mainly the grocery store (but I had to change some money). She bought me an empanada (which was amazing) and Inca Kola because I had been waiting to try the coveted Latin American drink and I was definitely pleased.
While at the grocery store, I forced myself to buy shampoo and conditioner and also "splurged" and bought an exfoliating sponge because I wanted to practice using money. While I knew before coming to Lima that 1 USD = about 3 soles, it took me a while to remember when I saw that Pantene was 17 soles. I kept thinking it said 17 USD (which it didn't), and I thought Peru was going to make me broke. For all 3 items I think it was around 19 USD. So not incredibly bad.
Also, on my first night, I took a shower. In the US, depending on in which direction you turn the knob, you can change the temperature of the water. I thought it was the same way here too. It's not. It's so so so so so not.
In my house at least, there's this switch on the wall that you use to choose hot or cold water. At the time of my shower, I thought there was only cold water and it was not fun and probably the quickest shower I have ever had. Needless to say, when I got out, I was happy to get into my warm jammies and snuggle up with.... myself.
Yesterday (which was day 2 sorta/kinda), I went to my school to do some paperwork and went to Miraflores with my mom to buy a flat iron (which I got for around $18 USD and it works really well) and also stumbled upon one of the many very very very VERY touristy Inca markets and bought a scarf. If you're American and in Peru and looking for other Americans, go to the nearest Incan market- they're all there. The Americans I saw leaving the market I went to were a relief to me, honestly. It was the first English I had heard in about 24 hours.
The above photo is of me wearing the scarf I bought for like $5 USD.
Something really helpful for me is that at a lot of major/established places here in Lima, you can pay with Soles or with USD. A lot of billboards show the price for something in USD and in soles and when you're purchasing something at the store, the total comes up in both currencies as well. It's helpful to compare so I know how much I am spending.
Also, if any future exchange student is reading this (to Peru or anywhere else), a good idea is to track your finances. It helps you know what you're spending (obviously), but so that you don't overspend or are suddenly confused as to where all your money went. I really have to be careful with my money, so I am going to start tracking the things I have paid for in the past 3 days.
I also had my first Rotary meeting last night which was VERY VERY different from my Rotary meetings back home. Not only are there more people, but there is a lot more going on at one time than there is at Gahanna Rotary. All the exchange students being hosted by my club were sworn into Interact and our host parents put our Interact pins on our blazers. After, most people linger around to eat and talk. I think we were there for about 2.5-3 in total from start to finish.
Something I have started doing here in Peru, which I never saw coming, is drinking coffee. In the states, I am not a coffee person, but for whatever reason here, I drink black coffee with a lot of sugar. I always thought I was weird for not being a coffee person. Then again, American coffee is also like brown dishwater soo.....
Today, day 3, I went to the beach (very very early), with my mom. It's winter here, so there was no swimming, but we had breakfast on the beach and walked around for a little bit. Since it is winter, there was absolutely no one there. I told my biological mom it was like you could've seen tumbleweed. She then promptly reminded me that tumbleweed is in the desert so I corrected myself and said tumbleSEAweed.
We took several types of public transportation to get to Santa Rosa and by the time we got back to Surquillo, my mom and I were so ready to just sleep. We stopped for lunch somewhere around the house and I finally had pollo a la brasa which is amazing (it's chicken and french fries) and I had Inca Kola of course. No matter how tired she is, my host mom always makes sure I am fed and well. That's something I really appreciate about her. She is absolutely amazing.
I went home, took a "warm-ER" shower (still trying to figure the shower out), and slept. I drank some coffee with my mom for dinner (dinner isn't really that big here, lunch is the main meal), and here I am, writing about my adventures.
Tomorrow, I start school. I am nervous and excited. My host sister (who is studying in Atlanta, Georgia right now), went to my school and her uniform, unfortunately, doesn't fit me. Tomorrow, I will go to school in normal clothes and really stick out and that will be... interesting. I'll have a uniform to wear on Monday so I fit in a little bit better.
My district (6690) has a policy that we are required to follow which is that, for the first 30 days, we go "dark". We are not supposed to communicate with our families or our friends back home or go on social media for the first 30 days of our exchange. Doing so helps us get assimilated and prevents us from staying on our phones the whole time. I have wanted to post pictures to Instagram and I can't, so I am relying on my blog for picture sharing.
I'm interested to see how school goes tomorrow. I'll share my experiences in another post either tomorrow or this weekend.
Also, some of you know I have a channel on Youtube where I vlog about my experiences, too. The material there will be a little different so I am not repetitive. I will be making and posting a video within the week about my exchange.
Until next time!