Week 1 Studying Abroad: Still Alive

It’s been a week since I ventured off to Peru to study abroad, and thought I’d put together a short summary of how things are going on my end.

First of all, yes – there have been plenty of llamas and alpacas spotted here. In the photo above, that’s one chilling out at Machu Picchu, and here are some others I’ve spotted.

Last week was a huge week and I’m so thankful for the free weekend they’ve given us to recover.

Where do I begin with my study abroad experience?

Well, here’s what my host university, USIL (Universidad San Igancio de Loyola) looks like.

It’s a beautiful little campus in the strangest location. The campus is only a 10 minute walk from our hotel, and it doesn’t look like a university from the outside.

We’ve had very little ‘inside’ class time during the week as we’ve been on many field trips to explore Cuzco and its surroundings.

Our first field trip was to the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

The scenery was beautiful, but it was not easy hike! Many of us struggled with the altitude and some part of the hike was quite demanding.

Our second field trip was to the Mandor Waterfalls and Machu Picchu/Huanya Picchu. This spanned across two days and we stayed overnight there.

The hike to the Mandor Waterfalls was a beautiful one.

The hike to Machu Picchu and Huanya Picchu is another story.

Machu Picchu was absolutely beautiful! I’ve never seen anything like it before.

This hike wasn’t that demanding compared to Huanya Picchu.

See that point there in the photo below? That’s the mountain we hiked.

Climbing up that mountain was probably the single most terrifying thing I’ve ever done in my entire life.

The hike up Huanya Picchu was super tough. Think climbing up 1,000 steps, but 100x more challenging.

There were some parts of the trail where the climb was vertical and you had to use ropes to pull yourself up.

The view as we climbed up just got better and better.

But then we got to the very top, and I was on the verge of passing out from fear.

One small slip could’ve seen us falling off the cliff!

Here’s me pulling my ‘omfg I’m about to fall off and die’ face.

Just when I thought the top of the mountain was terrifying, the climb back down the mountain was horrifying.

Here’s one of the safer parts of the descent down. (The cliff is to your right of the photo)

There was a section of the hike down where the path was almost vertical and it was similar to you climbing down a ladder.

Except you didn’t have proper handle bars to hold on to…just rock.

And right below you was…nothing really.

I was gripping on to the rocks so tight I had cuts on my hands. And my arms and legs were trembling from all the adrenaline pumping into my system. I was even in tears because I was so scared!

No one from our group took photos of this section of the hike because we were too busy trying not to die.

Never have I been so happy to be back on land and alive!

Seriously, if I had known how dangerous this hike was, I probably wouldn’t have done it. It was insane!

People have died from climbing that mountain, and the hike is also nicknamed ‘the hike of death’.

Besides from those field trips, we’ve been relaxing and exploring Cuzco.

The weather here is temperamental – just like Melbourne! It rains everyday (guaranteed), and it can get hot to cold in minutes. But mostly, it’s quite cool in Cuzco. Say around 15 degrees on average?

There are A LOT of stray dogs here which make me very sad. They’re very cute though and I try to give them some food when I can.

Everything is super cheap here! An average meal is around 15 soles, which is around $6 AUD. The strangest meal I’ve come across so far is guinea pig.

The shopping is here fantastic! I love the markets and I have a serious urge to buy everything here. Again – the products in markets are super cheap. A nice jumper sets you back 35 soles, which is around $14 AUD.

DSC05528 DSC05395

Although I haven’t been here very long, it feels like I’ve been in Cuzco for months!

3 things I miss back home are:

  1. The toilets – you can’t flush toilet paper down the toilet here! There’s a bin next to every toilet, and you’re expected to dispose of your used paper in there. The staff at our hotel have been quite frustrated because we haven’t been following this rule and have been blocking up their toilets. It’s not a pretty sight!
  2. Water – you can’t drink tap water here and it’s killing me!
  3. The Air – the city can be quite polluted and I miss breathing clean air.

And you know – I miss family and friends…and my cat.

The week ahead is full of ‘proper’ classes and there are a number of activities scheduled too. Things like salsa classes, soccer games, trip to the botanical gardens, and a tour of the sun temple next to our uni.

If you want to read more about my study abroad adventures, I write all about my study abroad shenanigans here: https://onesummerabroad.wordpress.com

Hope you’re all enjoying your summer break so far. And good luck to those of you starting summer classes!

– Daph

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