6 Symptoms of Falling in Love with Cusco

Stephanie Barnaba is a student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and an ISA Photo Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Cusco, Peru.

One month has flown by in the beautiful city of Cusco, Perú.  The adventures I have had and places I have already visited these first few weeks have been unreal.  After living here for one month, I thought I’d share the six things that showed me I was falling love with my host country.

  1. Realizing that every meal is better than the last  
Causa Rellena, Cusco, Peru-Barnaba-Photo 1
Tastes as perfect as it looks, a delicious spongy potato cake with chicken or tuna filling. And one of my new favorite foods.


Out of all the things that come with living in Cusco, one of my favorites is discovering new food because. Seriously, everything is delicious.  Living with a host family is giving me insight into the typical Peruvian meals, and the food has yet to disappoint.

2. Daily views that leave me awestruck

Cusco is located in a beautiful valley in the middle of the Andes mountain range.  Needless to say, during my first few walks outside, I was audibly gasping at the beauty.  Staring up at these majestic sights as I walk around every day gives me the same awestruck, yet calming feeling as staring into a starry night sky.

Street view, Cusco, Peru- Barnaba-Photo 2
My view as I walk to school everyday.
Rooftop, Cusco, Peru- Barnaba-Photo 3
View from the rooftop of my school building at twilight.


3. Being Welcomed by the Openness and Warmth of People in Cusco

Walking down the street, I am always greeted with a smile from anyone I pass and a hello or good afternoon.  The people of Cusco are very warm and friendly, and the typical greeting here among friends is a kiss on the cheek.  My host family was extremely welcoming and hospitable when I first arrived after a long night of delayed flights, and they were more than willing to help me with anything I needed to adjust to Cusco.

4. Discovering how close I am to ancient history

One of my new hobbies while living in Cusco is hiking. Cusco is the ideal distance near many mountains and ancient ruins that make perfect hiking spots any day of the week.  Some ruins are right down the street from my house!

Mountaintop, Cusco, Peru, -Barnaba-Photo 4
After hiking through some ruins on a rainy Monday afternoon, a few friends and I arrived at the very top of a mountain, and were unexpectedly greeted with this spectacular view of Cusco.

5. Realizing Cusco is very budget friendly

Soles, Cusco, Peru -Barnaba-Photo 5 (1)
Peruvian soles exchanged from US dollars when I arrived at the airport.


Cusco operates on the currency Nuevo Sol, of which one U.S. dollar is equivalent to about 3 Soles.  Consumer prices, and the cost of living in general is much lower in Perú than in the U.S.  So for a college student on a budget who wants to travel, or for anyone looking to be cost-conscious, Cusco is a very budget friendly destination with so much to offer.

6. Learning the Culture through Activities with ISA

The ISA study abroad program directors in Cusco are incredible at providing an environment filled with learning and fun.  They offer many cultural activities throughout each week, which have helped me learn and experience more about the culture of Peru than I ever would have on my own.  The directors are always open to suggestions and look for ways to make sure everyone has fun.  Many activities are combined with meeting local people, which is great for making new friends.  Some activities so far have included salsa lessons, a soccer game at a local field, and visiting a local dance center to learn about traditional dances of Cusco–not to mention our amazing weekend trips!

ISA center, Cusco, Peru- Barnaba-Photo 6
The activity board at the ISA center


ISA activities have added so much to my experience in Cusco so far, and I cannot wait to keep exploring!


The world awaits…discover it.