Sunday, September 8, 2013

How neat is that? (Thoughts from the 1 month mark)

Hello all! To start, the semester so far has been an adventure. It’s difficult to think that we’ve already been here for one month, it seems like we just arrived yesterday. During this month, our group has seen some very exciting, interesting, and strange things. With some of these things, such as the night sky that we were able to see in the Cañón de Colca, the view of the mountains that can be seen every day from the classrooms, and the things that can’t entirely be captured with our cameras, there are only so many words and expressions that can be used to describe things that somehow manage to escape a complete description. However, to start with some descriptions, it’s easy to notice the differences that exist and to juxtapose the things here with things in the Michigan or the U.S. in general. For example, the stars in the Cañón de Colca have incredible colors of red, blue, and white all the while twinkling with a strength that is muted in Grand Rapids. When only the lights of the city can be seen, the feeling of awe about the strength and number of the stars and the immensity of the night sky is overwhelming. However, questions about the stars aren’t going to be the first thing that pops up in everyone’s mind so I’ll skip to the more exciting topics of food, language, and friends.
One of the amazing views we saw
                Firstly, the food. I still haven’t tried any food that is too strange, but before the end of the semester, my goal is to try cuy. I’m not going to explain what that is because you have a wealth of information available on the internet that is more descriptive than what I can accomplish in this blog post. However, the food that I have eaten during my time in Arequipa is not that strange or different than the food in the U.S.  In my family, the breakfast normally consists of a plate of bread with butter, a fruit such as pear, peach, or orange, and probably a type of oatmeal or other light snack. With my lunch, I’ll have a plate of rice, potatoes (fried or with soup), and a section of meat, all of which is preceded by either a light soup or a small piece of corn. For supper, the plate is generally the same, but the meat may be different or there will be a different type of soup.

Happy Birthday Mike (and the seven other people not shown)

                Secondly, the language. At times, it seems as though I haven’t learned anything or improved in my ability to speak the language (despite the fact that all of our conversations are in Spanish, with the occasional word or phrase in English). During a normal day, there may be times when I can’t understand because it was spoken too fast or the words were foreign too me. Very quickly in the beginning of the semester, I learned that it is not a bad thing to ask someone if they could slow down a bit or if they could rephrase that sentence. However, my current limitations in the language aren’t too bothersome or worrying considering that we’ll be here for three more months, which is plenty of time to improve significantly. As my Peruvian father and many of my Peruvian friends enjoy saying, "tranquilo, poco a poco." 
                Thirdly, friends. With this trip, we are very blessed to have an excellent group of people. All of the people in the group have a special place in my heart and I can’t imagine my trip here if any of them had not come along. Also, in the university, I have gotten to know quite a few of the students quite well and I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to develop my relationships with friends from the university, inadvertently helping me with the language as well as helping me get to know a little about the Peruvian culture and the lifestyle of a Peruvian student. En las dos areas, of friends both Peruvian and from the Calvin group, the blessings are enormous and I cannot express completely the extent of my thankfulness to have the group of friends that I have this semester.

Going down to the hot springs
                In total, this semester has been most exciting and I am eager to see what the rest of the semester has in store for our group. Thanks so much to all of the families in Michigan and elsewhere for all of the support that you all have given us in the form of letters, prayers, and skype calls. It is all needed and appreciated very much! Entonces, necesito terminar este blog post pero hasta luego y chau! (Enjoy the small language challenge, I recommend that you use something other than Google Translate to solve that pequeño puzzle)

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