City Discovery: The “Navel” of Incan Civilization, Cusco

Discover Cusco

Cusco is considered the historical capital of the Inca Empire, which led to its declaration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

Qosqo, meaning Cusco in Quechua, translates to the “navel of the world” due to the Inca’s once Four Region Empire. Cusco is known as the stopping point before venturing into the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. At an aerial view, it is believed that Cusco was intentionally built to resemble the shape of a puma!

Don’t miss these Discovery Compass activities in Cusco!

Intercultural experiences highlight exposure with the local culture, promoting a multilateral exchange of ideas, language and opinions.

Our semester students have a variety of “intercambio” opportunities with local Peruvian students. Cultural activities include learning the traditional dance of Salsa, sharing the love of fútbol- and participating in a soccer game with our on-site staff members and other passionate Cusqueños, and of course a Spanish language exchange activity.

Intermediate or Advanced Spanish speakers can enroll in a Beginning Quechua course. Quechua is an indigenous language utilized by many Peruvians and an integral part of contemporary culture in Cusco. For students who decide to opt out of the course, Quechua will be a fact of life for all, as it is commonly practiced in the streets and excursion locations.

ISA excursions and cultural activities highlight historical parts of the local culture to help students better understand their new environment.

Visit one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu. Many archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was created as an estate for Pachacuteq, the Incan Emperor. Visitors who take a guided tour around Machu Picchu learn the reasoning behind the site’s layout- its districts, residential zones, agricultural and urban sectors. An afternoon of hiking and exploring the ruins is one of the best ways to grasp the vast greatness of this truly breathtaking wonder.

Before colonial Spanish rule, the Incas would gather in Cusco each winter solstice to honor the Sun God. Today, Cusco and other cities of Peru celebrate Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun. This festival is a week-long celebration full of traditional dress, dancing in the streets and free live music. Summer students make their way to the Plaza de Armas to take part of this incredible and traditional event.

Take part and witness the native Aymaran culture during a trip to Puno and Lake Titicaca. Lake Titicaca is known as the highest navigable lake in the world, where visitors get to visit the local population who live in “Uros,” which are artificial floating islands made of reeds. Visitors can spend the weekend with these families, eat the delicious foods and share the local customs.

Sociopolitical discovery highlights social and political activities or experiences.

The Universidad de Salamanca Cursos Internaciones en Cusco offers an array of interesting courses for students who are studying abroad. One of the most popular, U.S. – Latin America Relations, provides students an in-depth analysis of important historical and contemporary events and policies that have contributed the region’s sociopolitical outlook. Topics covered in class include: the Monroe Doctrine, the Mexican-American War, the Spanish American War, the construction of the Panama Canal, the Good Neighbor Policy, the alliance for progress, the role of Latin America during the Cold War and U.S. drug enforcement policies in the Andean region.

Professional experiences provide exposure to professional development opportunities during an ISA program.

Students in Cusco may add on a Service-Learning component to their academic program, which helps them earn real world experience and training related to their future career or profession. ISA Service-Learning offers placements in Cusco for the following areas of interest: Agriculture, Animal & Veterinary Sciences, Education, Health Professions, Social Work, Arts & Humanities and Hospitality & Tourism.

Environmental experiences expose students to different environmental aspects of the host country.

Given the close proximity to the Andes Mountains, the people of Cusco experience a special daily array of climates. Students interested in taking courses related to Environmental Sciences, look no further! Courses offerings at the Universidad de Salamanca Cursos Internacionales include: Sustainable Development in the Peruvian Andes as well as Indigenous Knowledge and Climate Change Adaptation in the Peruvian Andes. Students enrolled in these courses will have opportunities to visit local towns to further expand their knowledge on sustainability and climate change.

Visit the Urubamba Valley, more popularly known as the Sacred Valley. The Sacred Valley was considered the heartland of the Inca Empire, as it was one of the main points of extracting raw materials. Agriculturally crucial to the success of the Inca, students will get to stop by the nearby village of Maras, well known for its salt mines and Moray, which features an impressive Incan agricultural laboratory used to cultivate various crops.

Described as the “navel” of the Incan empire, Cusco is truly at the center of the action in Peru. Learn more about how you can study abroad in Cusco.

The 2015 City Discovery Series aims to showcase one of ISA’s program locations each week. Facts about each location and Discovery Compass activity examples are given, highlighting the areas of Intercultural, Historical, Sociopolitical, Professional and Environmental discovery. The Discovery Compass aims to help students have the best possible study abroad experience by helping them to gain a better understanding of the local environment, customs and people through a variety of experiences.

Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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