4 reasons why we decided to spend a semester abroad in Lima, Peru | Top Universities

4 reasons why we decided to spend a semester abroad in Lima, Peru

By Linda M

Updated May 10, 2021 Updated May 10, 2021

Sponsored by Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola

The opportunity to study abroad is one of the top reasons many students across the globe decide to go to university.

Attending an international university can not only help you develop an attractive skillset in the eyes of potential employers after graduation, it’s also a once-in-a-lifetime experience to immerse yourself in another culture, make invaluable connections with people from other parts of the world, and possibly even learn a new language.

Simón Vera Durandal from Chile, Hannah Upmeier Zu Belzen from the Netherlands and Luisa Nottebrock from Germany all took part in a study exchange programme at the Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola (USIL).

TopUniversities caught up with them to find out why they decided to spend a semester abroad in Lima, the charming capital city of Peru.

Explore the incredible sights of Peru

Between vibrant cities such as Cusco and Lima, the beautiful Pacific Ocean coastline, the wilderness of the Amazon rainforest, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca and the Andes Mountains, Peru has a lot to offer as a study abroad destination.

Simón, who studies tourism and hospitality at Instituto Profesional DUOC in Chile said: “One of the reasons why I decided to study in Peru is the rich culture and diverse gastronomy of this beautiful country. I wanted to move somewhere where I could learn more than what I would if I stayed at home, and I had never been to Peru before.

“I had the opportunity to visit many places there, such as Huaraz, Paracas, Ica, Iquitos, Cuzco and, of course, many places in Lima. Peru has a great diversity of landscapes, climates and touristic destinations.”

Hannah studies international communication at Hanze University Gronigen in the Netherlands. When it came to recalling her experience of exploring Peru when she studied there, she said: “I actually saw quite a lot of places in Peru! I feel like I covered all sides of the country, which was nice. Short getaways at the beach drinking coconuts, the Amazonas, walking through the jungle seeing monkeys, sloths, spiders, Cuzco, Machu Picchu, the Rainbow Mountain, Lake Titicaca, and Huacachina.

“My first trip was to the Huascarán, which literally took my breath away because we walked up to 4,600 metres. All places were so beautiful – you can see so different things; you have to visit them all!”

Luisa is an international business student at Cologne Business School in Germany. She said: “I decided to study abroad in Peru because I wanted to experience something I never had before. I’d never been to South America and I knew that Peru is a hidden treasure with being one of the most incredible countries of the world. The culture, the history, the landscape, the people, the language, the food – all those aspects were treasures that I wanted to discover and learn about.”

Live in a bustling student-friendly city

Another perk of studying abroad in Lima is the chance to live in a unique and vibrant South American city, perfect for students who want to experience a different culture but also have fun.

Luisa said: “Lima is busy, loud and chaotic, but it’s also exciting, beautiful and interesting. The city has so much to offer, whether its museums, markets, galleries, parks, cafes, world class restaurants, bars or many different outdoor activities, such as cycling and surfing.

“The student life is great – you meet so many international students from all around the world and there is always something to do. I loved the museums, food markets and the bars which served Pisco Sour – the national cocktail – especially in Barranco. We also went surfing several times, which I loved. It was liberating to immerse myself in the local culture of Peru, and I have to say, I learnt a lot about it.”

Hannah echoed Luisa sentiments. She said: “Lima is such a big city – it was crazy! It has so many different areas and spots. Every district looks different, which was cool.

“Like every city, Lima was just so much more fun once the weather got warmer and the sun was out. You could sit in the park, go shopping or eat delicious food. We met friends and explored the city, went to museums, clubbing or bar-hopping. There were a lot of exchange students so there was always something going on – we had a lot of fun and I miss the people I met there.”

Simón said: “As the weeks go by, you get used to how everything works in Lima. During the six months of my study abroad experience I never stopped exploring new places.

“The student life is also very dynamic. What I liked the most about Lima and Peru in general is that I could easily create a close circle of friends around me. Building a new home is never easy when you are alone and you have to start from scratch, but everything was much easier than I thought it would be.”

Experience learning at an international university

All three students describe their experiences studying at the Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola fondly, praising the welcoming environment and extra-curricular activities that helped them fit in and feel at home right from the start.

Hannah said: “USIL prepared a lot for exchange students, they made us feel truly welcomed. My favourite part was having a Peruvian buddy who was always there to help us, answer questions and show us around. My buddy Camilla and I clicked even before we met each other in person and we’re still in touch. I really appreciated her, and it was great because I got to meet more Peruvians and gain insights into the culture.”

Luisa added: “USIL made the international students feel welcomed from the first day on. I even joined an Afro Peruvian dance course at the university, as I wanted to learn more about the culture and the different dances in Peru. It was so worth it! I joined the class with two other international students from the Netherlands and Norway. The rest of the class was Peruvian, and it was so much fun with everyone!  I didn’t only learn how to dance Afro Peruvian, but I also learnt a lot about the culture and the history of Peru and got to know amazing and interesting people.”

What’s more, all three students agree that learning through different teaching methods helped them enrich their academic curriculum in unique ways.

Simón said: “Attending USIL became much more than just studying at an international university. Through my classes, I was able to establish a great connection with my professors and classmates, much more than I had at my home university. The best part was the constant support from the International Relations department and their team in general. It allowed me to grow professionally and above all personally, encouraging interaction through various workshops, programmes and courses.

“I think that doing an academic exchange in Peru has benefited me in many different ways – above all, to have more control and responsibility in making decisions. Being alone in a country makes you a fast and intelligent decision-maker, as well as a more confident person. Professionally, this experience has expanded my contact network, something that many companies value when looking for a job.”

Luisa added: “I was able to take four interesting courses from a variety of electives that I could choose from. One of the courses took place only in Spanish and I was the only international student, which was an amazing experience as I was forced to improve my language skills and got to know my amazing fellow students from Peru, which I am still in contact with now. I also went on a study trip to Mancora with the course, which was an enriching experience for me.

“Overall, the courses included a lot of group work, homework and tasks throughout the semester, so there was always something to do. Exams took place in the middle and at the end of the semester, and I really liked this way of studying as I was able to learn a lot through all the task throughout the six months I was there.”

Become more culturally sensitive

And finally, the students agree that studying in Peru – and especially in the diverse and welcoming city of Lima – helped them become more culturally sensitive people, something they will cherish for the rest of their lives.

Hannah said: “My personal growth benefitted from the exchange semester in Peru. I feel like it is always difficult to talk about your growth because, usually, other people can see that better than you. But you always grow and become more open-minded about other cultures, about your own lifestyle. I am so grateful that I was able to experience Peru, where I learnt more about the world and other places, but I also about myself.”

Luisa added: “I’m still thinking a lot about my time in Peru and always get emotional when I look at the photos I took there. It was an amazing time that has shaped me so much in a personal way. I have become much more open, accepting and confident through being immersed in a such different culture from mine with people not speaking my language, but always being so kind and helpful. I have developed a sense of cultural awareness and can now also demonstrate courage and adaptability.”


Since graduating, Luisa has gone on to work in human resources at Super RTL in Cologne with experience in destination management and customer service. Hannah has completed an internship as a marketing consultant at Dürkopp Adler and has been a member of the student team for UNICEF Groningen.

Lead image credit: Willian Justen de Vasconcellos on Unsplash

This article was originally published in May 2021 .

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