Studying Abroad In Lima, Peru - My first Day
Studying abroad in Lima, Peru
My First Day
Studying abroad in Lima, Peru - What I did on my first day
You've just landed in Peru after a 24-hour flight. Or better, 4 flights in a 24 hour time period. You're tired and jet-lagged after your long journey - but you're also freaking excited to start exploring this city that you'll call home for the next year. So, after just a few short hours of sleep, let's go! It's time to start exploring Lima. That was me, on the first day of my study abroad in Lima, Peru. Together with 2 other Austrian girls, we set off on this journey together and we couldn't wait to explore our new home. Oh, and explore we did!
First Step: Food!
Not having any groceries and without knowing where anything was, we first set out to find food - only to end up in one of the most Peruvian places we could've found: the local fast food chain "Bembos", that according to any Peruvian ever has the best fast food in the entiiiire world. After our trip and not having eaten anything since the plane, I guess we would've enjoyed bread and water - or anything really, but getting food wasn't going to be as easy as we had hoped for: First, we needed to order - in Spanish. While my Spanish was definitely the worst, none of us had good Spanish and neither of us properly understood the girl taking our order - it was too fast, with an accent we'd never heard before (having had only Spanish teachers) and also - and this was probably the biggest problem - words we'd never heard before. After a few "Que? Que? Ummm, este! (Pointing at the picture of what we wanted) Ummm si? Ummmm no? (To this day, I have no idea, what I was agreeing or disagreeing with)". We did it. We got our receipt with our names slightly misspelled and all we had to do was wait for our food. And boooy, Bembos really did have some delicious Burgers and fries!
Exploring Lima: Public Transport
Refreshed and with our bellies full, we got picked up by another Austrian girl who had been in Lima for a few months already doing her Au-pair. She was all set to show us her favorite places - in one day since she was about to leave to travel around the country and to go back home afterward. First of all, we made our way to the beautiful Miraflores. Getting there was already the next adventure. If you've ever been to Lima, you've seen the "Micros", or small public buses that sometimes have holes in the floor. Getting on a Micro, you'll pay the "Cobrador" and he'll yell out the name of the station that's up next - again, not understanding any Spanish, never having heard of any of the streets we were passing and not really knowing where we were going, this was all slightly confusing. To this day, my friends think I'm weird because of this, but I did actually end up liking this system, simply for ist craziness! If you don't know where you're going you'll end up taking the wrong bus or missing your stop half the time, but hey, at least that way you get to know the city, right? ;)
Having arrived in Miraflores, we explored the area & patted some of the kitties in Parque Kennedy (apparently not the smartest thing to do, but it's not like we were aware of that). As we made our way down to the beach and got our first view of the sea, the excitement really hit us - we were living in a city by the sea! We could go surfing anytime we wanted! And take a swim anytime we wanted! As we took off our shoes and dipped our toes in the water we realized that the surfing was probably the more realistic option - the current is really strong and the water isn't exactly warm ;) As we strolled back up, we made our way to our first "Inca Market". While we had told ourselves that we weren't going to buy anything, we had a really hard time sticking to that resolution - everything was SO CUTE! And OMG this bag! And these little figures! And these wallets! It certainly wouldn't hurt to buy just a little… No! With slightly heavier bags we kept going.
Gamarra - a place you should NOT visit on your first day
This next part is the part that I really don't recommend to anyone recently arriving in Lima. We made our way to the famous "Gamarra". Gamarra is the largest clothing and textile market in Latin America. Located in La Victoria, there are over 20 000 textile shops stretched out over 24 square blocks. At Gamarra, you'll find everything: high quality, low quality; socks and underwear, t-shirts, jeans, maternity dresses, suits, bridal dresses, shoes, accessories, sports clothes, hats, replicas of designer brands, and and and. You get the picture. The prices are low and estimates say that there are around 100 000 people visiting per day! Neither I nor any of my Austrian friends bought anything that day. No, we were just so busy trying to take it all in. The smells, the colors, the views, the sounds - everything was so different from everything I had ever experienced before! That smell of fresh fruits, fried stuff and lots of people. Everyone yelling out their offers, the chatter in Spanish all around, and the catcalling. It was fascinating! I wish I had pictures to share, but we were so busy taking it all in, we all forgot to take pictures! However, Gamarra is also the place that you're not supposed to go to because it's not safe. And while we did have a great time exploring, we ended up getting lost and not finding our "way out" and back to the bus station again. We just kept walking trying to find a bus, a taxi, really anything that would take us where we wanted to go next - and we ended up in a street where we were pretty much the only people along with lots of trash. Right then a local woman approached us, yelling at us to get out of there as fast as possible - not because she was mad at us, but she was worried about our safety. All of us, not having a clue of what we were doing, just started running. The next crossroad was thankfully a bigger street and right as we got there a taxi approached that we ended up taking. We all stared at each other for a second and then started laughing as the adrenalin left our bodies. We couldn't believe what had just happened. One thing I learned right then and there - if there's nobody else in a street and it looks slightly sketchy: don't go there.
The end of the Day
As the day slowly came to an end, our taxi (a "tico", and as I would learn soon, not a taxi I should be taking, either) took us back to our home, we reminisced about the amazing, crazy, incredible day we had just had. And while we still hadn't really realized that we were going to live in Lima for the next year, it was definitely a great, if slightly reckless start to this "adventure of a lifetime".
Like it? Pin it!
We are a team of four feminist travelers coming together from different parts of the world to share with you what we have learned from traveling, living, loving, and exploring all over the world. Join us and tell your story about female solo travel, relationships, mental health, city guides, or whatever else comes to your mind.