I can hardly believe it's finally happening. The surprising thing for me is that I am actually feeling pretty sad about leaving... the last couple weeks I have just been so excited to go home to my family, my friends, Luke, my house, my dog, my food, my bed... haha but after 4 months Lima really has become like a home to me. Spanish has finally came to me in a fluid(ish) way and I'm leaving... ¡Que pena! The amount of Spanish I have learned in 4 months is kind of amazing but unfortunately I still wouldn't consider myself "fluent" even though I can understand pretty much everything, it's the speaking that gets me haha. Learning a new language is an incredible amount of work that no amount of high school or college classes can really teach you. Only going somewhere that you are forced to listen, see and speak in Spanish all the time do you actually learn and retain anything or that's been my experience at least (unless of course you are lucky enough to have a family member or friend you can talk to all the time for practice). The really impressive thing to me here is how well the high school students we helped with English could actually speak English, they were incredibly fluent. The big difference in the education here and in the US is that they begin learning English in elementary school and their English teachers teach them in English the whole time, in comparison to Spanish classes in the US that are usually taught in English and we usually don't start learning a second language until high school and that's only so we can get into college. Traveling has made me realize how close minded us Americans can be as far as language learning (and obviously other things). People I have met from Europe usually speak 2-3 languages at least and the majority of people from both Costa Rica and Peru can speak English with some degree of fluency. To bring in some of Dr. Miller's cultural psychology, we Americans are the most monolingual and ethnocentric country and that's kind of sad. Enough with my lamenting over not learning Spanish in Elementary school haha here is a little picture summary of all the fun things I have been able to do over that last few weeks :)
Our Peruvian literature teacher took us on a little excursion to el Centro de Lima and we went to (above) a museum about the Spanish Inquisition and it was all about the ways the Spanish tortured people during that time because the building actually used to be a prison. This was complete with an underground walk through to show us the cells and wax dummies in various states of torture. Don't worry though or next stop got a little weirder... (below) we went to the Monastery of San Francisco which was a beautiful convent and church, except for when we went through the famous Catacombs where we were able to see 200-500 year old bones of people who wanted to be buried under the church to be closer to God... creepy.
Then about two weeks ago, Nikki's amazing family had a going away party for us that doubled as birthday party for Emily and late birthday celebration for Adam. We are all going to miss Nikki's family, they truly let us in this whole semester like we were all part of the family.
Then a couple days later Jaime made us his famous lasagna :)
Then we had our last day with the high school students of Colegio PIOXII. Talking with them and helping with English was honestly one of my favorite things we got to do here in Lima. They were so much fun and I learned all the good (and inappropriate) Peruvian slangs haha plus on this last day they all made or bought their favorite Peruvian foods, desserts and drinks to share with us.
Then Karla took Nikki and I to finally get some Peruvian sushi! It was amazing and we definitely didn't hold back seeing as how it was unlimited.
Oh and Luciano turned the big 5 years old!
My amazing fam took me to their beach house in San Bartolo for Semana Santa!
We also had our last meal with Dr. Miller and his wife Genie! They were unbelievably amazing on this trip and we were so lucky to get Dr. Miller as our professor this semester. We went to Tanta which is a restaurant with super yummy authentic Peruvian dishes and I had my favorite Aji de Gallina.
And one of the most fun things we have done in Lima... the chocolate museum! We got to make cocao tea, Mayan hot chocolate and European hot chocolate literally starting with the cocao bean! Then we also got to make our own chocolates with all kinds of different things to mix inside like peanuts, cinnamon, coconut, etc. The best part was that all the chocolate made here comes from Peru and the Amazon!
Thursday was officially our last day at UPC! We actually made it! We started with 12 and 9 of us made it to the end. I can't believe how close we all became in this roller coaster 4 month ride. We all got seriously sick at some point, had serious homesickness, or were just seriously sick of school but we got through it together and I have made some truly lifelong friends in this "Aventura Peruana" :)
In conclusion, I have had a wonderful experience. My host family has been absolutely amazing in every way. They have spoiled me and I got really lucky living here for the last few months. I'm going to miss having a house full of screaming kids and practicing my Spanish everyday but hopefully I'll be able to come back and visit them one day. After my study abroad experiences in Costa Rica and Peru I've definitely been bit by the travel bug and I can't wait to plan my next foreign adventure but until then... NEBRASKA HERE I COME :D