Student shares her experiences while studying in Peru last summer

Before last summer, I had never travelled out of the country, though I had greatly wanted to do so. When the opportunity came around for me to go on a study abroad trip to Peru with the foreign language department, I jumped at the chance. I’m so glad I did! It was an incredible experience that will be one of my favorite memories of my time at UNA.

For this trip, we travelled similarly to the show “The Amazing Race” by staying in different hostels for a few days at a time. We started out in the capital of Lima, followed by Nazca, Arequipa and Cusco, which was the capital of the Incan empire.

Lima has a population of 9 million people, which is about one-third of the entire country’s population. If you think New York City never sleeps, then you’ve never been to Lima. This city is crazy! While in Lima, we had plenty of free time to explore different parts of the city but also went to different areas, such as Huaca Pucllana (an adobe pyramid), Lima Colonial, and multiple museums and cathedrals as a group. Every Latin American city has a Plaza de Armas, which serves as a hub of activity. It is centered with a fountain and is surrounded on all four sides by main streets.

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about one of our favorite parts of the trip: food. Honestly, all the food in Peru is delicious! There are so many different types of food to try and everything is wonderful. Lima is known as the “gastronomic capital of the Americas,” and it is a well deserved title.

After our visit in Lima, our next stop was in Nazca, which is in the desert region of the country. The main event of this stop was, of course, the Nazca lines. We were able to fly over the lines, which is truly the only way to see them. So cool! It’s really amazing to see lines in a desert that haven’t changed in hundreds of years. I wouldn’t recommend the flight for those with a light stomach. It’s definitely an aerial roller coaster. Further on, we stopped in Arequipa, which is such a beautiful city. It’s nicknamed “La Ciudad Blanca” because so many buildings are made out of white volcanic stone. The city is situated near several volcanoes with the most famous one named “El Misti,” which is topped with snow on its nearly-symmetrical peak.

One of my absolute favorite parts of the trip was our trek out to Colca Canyon near Arequipa. At 4,160 meters deep, it is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and said to be the deepest canyon in the world. A must see in the canyon is the Cruz del Condor, an area where condors pass through in the early morning and late afternoon. Condors are extremely important in Andean culture and are similar to eagles in size. When we were there, we saw no less than a dozen condors flying over a gulch thousands of feet deep—a truly breathtaking view.

Now, my favorite city! Cuzco! Wow. There’s so much to say about this area that I could never write it all down. Cuzco was the capital of the Incan empire during the 13th century. The original city was laid out in the shape of a puma, with the head located at the fortress of Sacsayhuaman. The city maintains its original plan, making the streets narrow and the buildings short. The surrounding areas are full of Incan ruins of incredible architecture.

However, nothing compares to the holy grail of Latin America: Machu Picchu. It’s been at the top of my bucket list for a long time, so I was ecstatic to be there! Tucked away at the top of a mountain, it is the greatest remaining Incan structure that was not leveled by the invading Spaniards. Words cannot describe how beautiful the Andes mountains are nor how impressive Machu Picchu is, sprawled across the top of a mountain. We were on a two-hour guided tour and had about four hours of free time to explore and still didn’t walk through every area. It’s a lot bigger in person than in pictures.