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Testimonial ++ Volunteer ++ Peru

My 6-Month Experience Abroad in Peru

My time in Peru was incredibly unforgettable! I learned and experienced many new and interesting things, and you have to take a look at them too!

The Organization

With the help of the organization "studentsgoabroad" I had the opportunity to find an internship in my desired country Peru. All I had to do was submit my CV and a letter of motivation in English or Spanish. The support in the run-up to my stay abroad was very good and I could always ask questions and express wishes about my stay and my trip. It was important for me that everything was well organized and therefore I booked the whole package. This also gave me a direct contact person in Cusco with whom I could exchange various details about the apartment, the language course and interesting facts about the city and region. Through weekly meetings and additional activities I was able to meet a lot of people from all over the world and make friends.

Internship

The internship I had started in Cusco was in a small company. In the beginning, I was a little bit surprised at how small the company is because I had expected a big production site. In the end, it is more or less a sales shop with a repair shop for maintenance. The business fields are the sale of solar systems and cleaning systems. The appliances are original products from Germany, in other words, genuine brand quality. A total of eight people work in the company. My boss is half Peruvian and half French and wanted to build up to something of his own in Peru, especially in Cusco. He usually speaks Spanish, French, or English. The colleagues speak mainly Spanish but also some English. During my booked 16 weeks there, I repaired cleaning systems and set them in motion for the customers, created websites for the sale of all kinds of equipment, and for solar and photovoltaic systems. In addition, I did the calculation of solar systems for hotels and private pools. The work with my colleagues was often very good, I could improve my Spanish enormously. The working hours are about from 8:30 to 18:30 with 1.5 hours lunch break. I worked Monday to Friday, the colleagues partly also on Saturday. In Peru, they usually work six to seven days a week, because otherwise, you don't earn enough money. I didn't mind the long working hours because the tasks were interesting and the colleagues were very nice.

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Flight & Arrival

My flight went from Frankfurt to Cusco with a change in Sao Paulo and Lima. In Lima, however, I had to check out and check in again, as I was continuing on a national flight. The flights to South America are generally quite expensive, so you should book relatively early. With 4 weeks to go, I spent about 1.300 Euro. It is also recommendable to book a direct outward and return flight because some countries in South America expect this due to entry conditions. In Cusco, I was picked up by taxi by Duzan, my local caretaker, and brought to a hostel for the time being because something had changed with the apartments. One day later I was accommodated in an apartment with a couple. There I stayed for two weeks and then changed to my permanent apartment, which also offered better connections from bus and taxi to the city center but also to work.

Visa

For an internship abroad or volunteer work of fewer than 183 days you normally do not need a special visa. A tourist visa in the form of a migration card is already issued upon entry. You have to pay attention to the length of stay, which is entered in your passport; normally this is 90 days. During the flight to Lima, I have already filled out the migration card for Peru, which must always be carried together with the passport when crossing the border from/to Peru or to another country. In order not to exceed this residence limit, it is recommended to spend at least one night outside of Peru, e.g. by a bus trip to Lake Titicaca on the Bolivian side, as this is still relatively close to Cusco with a 10-14 hour bus ride.

Foreign Insurance

I can recommend to take out an overall insurance package for abroad. This means travel health insurance without deductible, travel accident insurance, luggage insurance, and travel liability insurance. On long journeys, it is also advisable to take out insurance for luggage and the most valuable contents such as souvenirs and gifts. In the first moment, this may sound exaggerated, but I was glad to have concluded all this. The danger of catching e.g. a salmonella disease is quite big in Peru because the water from the tap is not drinkable and in cheap restaurants, food like vegetables and fruits are still washed with chlorinated water. If you fall ill, you should go to a private hospital immediately and take your insurance certificate and passport with you. The theft of valuables can also occur. Especially iPhones are often stolen if you do not pay enough attention to the fact that the pockets of jackets are closed or the things are carried in the back pocket of your trousers. Concerning smartphones, it is recommended to use a classic mobile phone for domestic calls and to buy a prepaid card, which by the way are very cheap. Nevertheless, especially at large markets, you are at the mercy of theft, because you might get grains of rice thrown on your head while you are strolling and be distracted.

Vaccinations

No vaccinations are required for entry into Peru, although it is recommended to be vaccinated against typical infections. These include hepatitis A and B, tetanus, and yellow fever. Otherwise, typhoid, rabies, and malaria tablets are also recommended for jungle stays.

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Credit Card and Money

A credit card is a must for the rest of Europe, thus also for South America. Here, the VISA-Card is especially recommended; the MasterCard is also partly possible. You should withdraw your money from your account at ATMs of big and serious banks. Either sole as also dollars can be withdrawn. It is also possible to exchange Euro and Dollar into Soles, whereby one has to pay attention to counterfeit money of coins and notes.

Destinations

During my time in Peru, I could only travel on weekends due to my internship. But since there were many one-day tours in and around Cusco, I could always make good use of this. Even more distant destinations like Lake Titicaca I could realize with overnight bus trips starting Friday night and arriving back in Cusco Monday morning. The offered tours in Cusco include trekking tours to Machu Picchu, but also fun activities like mountain biking, quad biking, rafting, zip-lining, bungee jumping, paragliding and much more. Also from the culture of the Incas, there are many sights, which are always presented by Spanish and English speaking guides. During my free time, I was able to visit other countries like Bolivia, Ecuador, and Colombia as well as do a 6-day bus tour through Peru.

Impressions from Cusco

During my stay in Cusco, I lived mostly in a 6-person flatshare. The roommates were also from different countries and most of the time English was spoken. The apartment was relatively large and well equipped with two bathrooms. There was also a kitchen with a gas stove and everyone had his own compartment for food. The apartment was not centrally located, but it was only a 10 min bus ride or 30 min walk from the historic city center. The city itself is still laid out like in Inca times and there are still many original buildings. In the many different museums of the city, you can see and learn a lot about the history of the Incas. Therefore there are also many sights in and around the city. Important not only for Cusco is the "Plaza de Armas", the main square in every Peruvian city; as well as the Jesus figure "Cristo Blanco", which can also be found in every Peruvian city.

The climate in Cusco is relatively constant throughout the year. There are no cold winters with minus degrees; there are no hot summers above 30°C. Since the city is located at 3 400 meters, it is usually very fresh. In winter, however, it is often sunny and sunburn can occur after just one hour. In summer it is mainly the rainy season, especially in the months of November to February. But all in all, you get used to the surroundings and the people very quickly. Only the altitude can sometimes cause headaches or circulation problems. For this, there is Peruvian coca tea to help, but in Germany, it is forbidden.

Life in Cusco is very simple. People work the whole week, even on Sundays. They are very nice and helpful, despite the poverty of many people. If you are a tourist in Cusco, you don't notice it right away, because the people hide it and are still friends, because they depend on tourism. Regulations also mostly apply to people who earn well. Simple people like taxi drivers only have to take care to feed their families. There are many children who sell jewelry and souvenirs to tourists during the day to earn money for their families. Usually, the children are at school in the morning and on the street in the afternoon/evening to sell.

If one does not know life in a South American city, then one immediately notices that one has to pay special attention to the traffic. Because here, the car is right in front of the pedestrian. And the bigger the car, the more rights.

There are different restaurants in the city. Some offer simple menus for local people relatively cheap, others have more expensive prices with specialties as for example an alpaca steak. However, cheap food also means the risk of contracting salmonella.

In my free time during the week and on weekends I met with colleagues and friends for dinner and celebrating. With pleasure, I tried new or recommended restaurants in the city. Hostels like WildRover and Kokopelli with disco music offer a good combination. There are also many good discos around the city center. All in all, Cusco offers a lot of possibilities and there is always something to do or experience, which is why you can easily do without television and the internet.

Conclusion

In summary, I can only recommend a trip to South America, especially Peru. You not only learn Spanish, but you can also use and improve your English through the many people who come from all over the world. Most people are there to do an internship, voluntary service, or even just a language course during a South American or world trip. The country of Peru offers different landscapes due to the many different climate zones, which can be crossed with organized bus tours.

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