Adventure Awaits in Peru

Sydnie Schell is a student at the University of Kentucky and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying abroad with ISA in Lima, Peru.

I have lived in Peru for only four short weeks but already I am in love.

Miraflores, Peru, Schell, Photo 1
The always gorgeous Miraflores

I came with virtually no preconceived notions, but I’ll admit I’m still amazed by the sheer diversity of the country. Everything from the Andes to the Amazon can be discovered here. Peru isn’t just about Machu Picchu. This is probably what bothers me most when people ask about my time abroad and automatically ask about the famous citadel. It doesn’t occur to them that Peru has so much more to offer.

In my new home of Lima, the ocean laps at the the parched desert. Towards the east, cloud forests spill into the Amazon basin. Inland, the highlands rise to the snow capped Andes Mountains. Everything you could ever want to try- paragliding, riding the sand dunes, or fishing for piranhas- are all less than a cab, bus, or plane ride away. It is a country filled with warm people, rich history, delicious food, and gorgeous architecture. Bored is a nonexistent word here in this sprawling, vibrant country full of surprises.

“Having the time of my life and whatnot” was the caption on one of the many photos I shared on social media and at the time I meant it in a lighthearted way, but honestly I’ve never written truer words. The phrase feels a bit heavier now that I’ve reflected on it.

Machu Picchu, Peru, Schell, Photo 2
Taking in the beauty of Machu Picchu

My first month abroad has been a month of firsts. I went fishing for piranhas on the Amazon River. I learned how to surf in the Pacific Ocean. I went sand boarding in the Atacama Desert. I strolled along the coast in Miraflores. I hiked to the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu. I climbed a palm tree in the Amazon Rain Forest. I’ve learned about alpacas, llamas, Humboldt penguins, sea lions, guano  birds, caiman, and so much more.

Without stepping a foot outside of Peru, I’ve met people everywhere from France to Fiji, from all over the United States, from every culture and walk of life. Most days I still can’t believe I’m here and that this is my life now. I am so thankful for every inch of this beautiful country I’ve been able to see and everything I’ve experienced.

Cusco, Peru, Schell, Photo 3
Exploring the markets in Cusco

So while I continue to use silly captions on social media and lightheartedly speak of my adventures abroad, more seriously I truly am having the time of my life. I have learned more about geography, history, food, culture, world politics, and surprisingly, myself, than I would have ever thought possible in four weeks. I’m grateful I have another three months to be able to fully immerse myself in the culture here.  The coming days and weeks are going to be full of unreal adventures, unbelievable moments, and (yes, mom) maybe even some studying for my classes.

Want to learn more about life in Lima? Check out “Life in Lima:  What Surprised Me Most”