I participated in a ten-day faculty-led trip to study international management in Peru in December 2018. I chose to study abroad in Peru specifically because of the diversity of people, culture, language, cuisine, and geography. Our trip began in Lima, Peru where we toured businesses and spoke to local entrepreneurs. We learned that sustainability and growth are huge components of Peruvian culture. For example, 14 Inkas, a Peruvian start-up distillery, could source their potatoes for their product in Lima for much cheaper and cut their cost of goods sold in half. However, they choose not to because they value letting the farmers in the Andes grow and harvest the potatoes. Sustainability and growth from a shared history were more important to their business model. Further, Peru is a culinary melting pot with dishes from all over the world. Throughout the trip, I was able to taste new food items and was pleasantly impressed. Trying the ceviche in Lima was an interesting experience. I wasn’t crazy about it at first, but I really enjoy how the diverse flavors work together to create a unique dish.
The second half of our trip was in Cusco, Peru. Since Cusco is high in the Andes Mountains, it is less urbanized than Lima. There are many individuals who still speak the Quechua language and dress in traditional garb. One of my favorite experiences in Cusco was our trip to the Center for Traditional Textiles, a non-profit organization of women who preserve the Peruvian highlands weaving traditions and pass them on to younger generations. They were so kind and welcoming as they wrapped us in ponchos and offered us warm tea. They explained to us how the materials are harvested, how the dyes from natural plants are derived, and how the alpaca wool is colored. I found this place almost magical, and it was beautiful that these women of all ages worked together to preserve their heritage. On the last full day in Peru, we visited Machu Picchu. It was such a surreal experience, and I found myself wanting to just sit down and take everything in. I think I came to have a sliver of understanding of the Incan and Peruvian connection between man and nature.
While this trip was amazing, I definitely experienced some challenges. First, the driving in Peru is absolutely crazy. The drivers do not necessarily follow traffic lights and signs. The use the lanes only as references and are quick to honk and cut other drivers off. I learned to be very cautious crossing the street. Second, the language barrier was difficult to navigate at times. I wish I had brushed up on my Spanish more before the trip. Lastly, Cusco is at an elevation of nearly 11,000 feet above sea level, so I definitely experienced some altitude sickness. Despite these challenges, my international experience was life-changing. I would highly recommend this experience to all students!
Madison Gaither is majoring in Accounting. She participated in a College of Business faculty led trip to Peru in December, 2018. Madison had the following to say about her time abroad, “My study abroad experience in Peru was life-changing! I have never been to a place as diverse and beautiful as Peru. I have learned more about appreciating others for who they are and allowing them space to be themselves. It was an amazing trip with an amazing group of students and faculty who challenged me and encouraged me to learn and grow along the way. I would highly recommend this trip to other students!”