Wednesday, February 23, 2011

PUCP - La Católica

The university I attended in Lima was awesome.

I attended Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP) or simply "La Católica" which is easily one of the best universities in Peru. I didn't actually know much about my university until I got to Peru; I was too excited about speaking Spanish, traveling, making friends, and adventure. Regardless, it was incredible.

Thus, I have to give a shout out post to "la Cato" because I am so thankful for the education I received there. I took three classes: a Peruvian history class, a contemporary Hispanic literature class, and a linguistic analysis class. Linguistic analysis blew my mind. My professor was too cool for class formality or for assignments. Class time and homework consisted of "chewing on" problematic sentences and the abstract concept of language. Furthermore, all he did outside of class was stroll around campus and think up new linguistic theories. That is my theory. He wrote his thesis under Noam Chomsky at MIT (but of course he never said anything about it, my friends and I looked him up on Wikapedia – we were a little obsessed) and once took a week off to present at Harvard. Beyond all that, he was simply a really cool dude and he taught me to think more about language: fascinating, living, and powerful.

PUCP breakdown (what's it like?):
- 20,000 students
- 50 areas of study.
- Big beautiful campus
- Enclosed by a security wall with security at the entrances (common for most universities).
- Deer live on campus - a signature of La Catolica
- Class grades come from quizzes on reading (there was a lot of reading but little homework) and the midterm and final tests which were pure essay, like a "blue book" test in the USA.
- Students don't live on campus, residence halls don't exist
- Universities are very academic driven, there aren't many clubs or organizations to join
- I totally knew where all the good snack/pastry stands were on campus and lunch food was cheap, plentiful, healthy, and delicious in comparison to ours.


So that is my shout out to La Católica. I L-O-V-E-D it, and I hope to go back someday /// Maybe I'll be the one teaching then...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Senior Year Experience

Here's to the winds that blow
And the ships that go
And the girl who fears no danger.
- Catherine Campbell

I am in a class this semester called "Senior Year Experience."

The class is funny, extremely relevant with a funny name.

But the name helps me title this blog entry.

For the present, I am "experiencing" one of the best semesters of my life, which made living here again way easier – Srsly. All my friends are visionaries, or maybe just a bunch of college kids with alive hearts who actually do something about their convictions. And they pray with passion. I dig.

Even still, this blog is dedicated to Peru, and it always will be because going there was the end, the middle, and the beginning of me and my destiny. Ask me about it, I will tell you a story...

Every day I think about Peru, that has never changed since the day I left. But the way I have been remembering has. Recently it has been small thoughts and triggered memories. The moments play in my head like a film or a picture fades in and out. These are what I want to record, because moments make up our life–

and because there were some cross-cultural experiences that are too
to be forgotten. Even now there are things that happened that I couldn't explain, I don't understand them myself, but I can record them. Muhahaha...

Experiences/Moments/Thoughts that have run through my head lately:

1. Piropos: A piropo is kind of like a pick up line, but at the same time it is entirely different, because it doesn't really exist in the U.S.A, not like in Peru. A piropo is a flirtatious remark, usually made about appearance, and almost always said by a male to a female. It can be defined anywhere on the scale from cat calling by a driver to a woman on the street to good friends telling you your eyes are so beautiful. I was sitting in class last week and my professor said the author was making a piropo towards a woman that he thought was beautiful. "Amalia, there was no comparison to this woman, this book is for her..." She asked the class if we knew what a piropo was, and I began to smile and laugh on the inside. When I first went to Peru, I was annoyed by the cat calls when walking down the street, and I definitely wasn't used to my friends commenting on my appearance frequently. I didn't like it. I didn't know their intentions, and I was like, that's inappropriate, but eventually I knew my friends hearts and really appreciated their encouragements. They genuinely wanted us to know our hair looked nice, or we had pretty eyes, etc. And beyond that, it is a cultural activity that has history and all kinds of implications behind it. To think about it now, r to explain it here would be difficult. But there you have it: piropo. "You look like Uma Thurman..."

2. Dogs and their doo: Today I was walking to my car (more like sloshing to my car) and there was dog poo right on the sidewalk. "Gross," I thought as I walked around it. Then an image of my daily walk to the bus in Lima flashed in my mind. There was always dog shiz on the sidewalk. I never really figured out why either, besides the fact that it's an urban city, and there aren't many grass patches. Maybe other metropolises like NYC are the same way, I am not sure, but dogs just went where they deemed worthy in my neighborhood.

3. Stuff: We have excessive amounts of stuff in the USA. I am reminded all the time. For example, in our kitchen in Lima there was a small, very small (like smaller than a Target bag small) garbage bag. That was all that was necessary, because they don't buy all the packaged processed stuff that we do, nor in the amount that we do. They buy more frequently, and everything is more fresh. Here we have a huge garbage can that needs to be changed at least twice a week. That is just an example of the difference of stuff in the kitchen. We have too much stuff in the U.S.A.

4. Mangos: Every time I see a mango here I am like, daaaaaaang. I think of Kody eating a mango in my sister's boyfriend's grandma's beach house south of Lima and me watching him, excited for his first bite of heaven. on. earth. Mangos are so delicious, juicy, and sweet in Peru. I will never be able to eat a mango the same way, in fact I am nervous to try up here in the states :S

5. The sea: I remember the sea a lot because I have this sea fetish going for me right now, I blame, Stephen Crane, and the Psalms for continuously fueling it... and my new thing with looking at all ocean related art and dreaming dreamy things about the sea and the wind. The image that comes to mind frequently is a day at the beach in Chorillos sitting with my friend Willy and letting sand pass through my fingers as the waves crashed in crashed in crashed in. Why? That day, the Lima fog had returned and the ocean was wild and gray and white and dark and deep. I feel as if the ocean, in all its swirling and crashing, embodied the word "depth" and all its meaning in those last few days and beyond to eternity. This image of the dark ocean always comes back because everything before, during, and after Peru seems to be a grandeur adventure, and the ocean beckons such thoughts. That is how I remember the sea.

6. Back to sidewalks... I also thought of this today. The sidewalks of Lima are so shiny and slippery. Sidewalks here are gritty and full of traction, which I am thankful for because I would lie if I said I hadn't embarrassed myself more than once on the slippery garúa sidewalks there.

7. Please, can I just have rice and fresh fruit juice with every meal again, ready and waiting for me? Srsly. On the other hand, I am thankful for an abundance of milk and green vegetables again, both rare in Lima.

8. My hair: It was curlier in Lima, why? Humidity all year round.

9. Facebook: I think social networking is so interesting, if you haven't realized it yet, our world will never be the same because of it. I have been thinking about this because I am in Ethics in the Information Age, and because I just finished watching the Social Network (great movie). But the main thought for me right now is the idea of lives: First of all, Peruvians are really into their Facebook. I am not sure who would win out between the U.S or Peru with Facebook usage and the importance it plays in one's social life. Second of all, when I returned I realized I could live my life of Peru through Facebook. It's kind of strange, it became slightly unhealthy after a month or so, then it balanced out. This brings me to my third thought: one can live, create, or relive a life, any life, online. Odd, yet addicting. What are the consequences of this? Sorry to be doomsday, I love the internet, but I am reading the book Devices of the Soul by Steve Talbott. It's a good read and asks questions we should be asking.

10. Sidewalks again: So one time, Haley, Shelly, and I were walking to the bus for school and we encountered a man face down in the grass. He seemed to be dead, I mean he was totally passed out and I wouldn't say that was uncommon, but the funny-now-but-not-so-funny-at-the-time part is that he was laying on top of a huge sword. So, to sum up the situation, we strolled by a very drunk man with a massive sword beneath him at 9:15am on a Thursday morning. Haley and I told the neighborhood security around the corner and kept going for class.

11. Simpático(/a): For all of you Spanish majors out there - "simpático/a" does not mean nice in Peru, it means good looking. Watch how you use it.

12. Aaaaand sidewalks again before I fall asleep... I loved running along Avenida Salaverry. It was always an adventure. There was a running path with trees around it that ran in the middle of the major avenue. If I ran west it took me right to the malecon that overlooked the ocean. Traffic and cat-calling sometimes made me nervous, but I never had a boring run. The smog of the city made it hard to breath, but once I was running along the coast, everything was beautiful and free.

There are so many more "pictures" and "thoughts" rolling in. My goal is to record them as they come...

Hablamos luego!