I graduated from Valpo in May 2022 with a degree in psychology. One day during my senior year, my roommate came back to our apartment and told me she found a Spring Break trip to Peru with the education department. She had just met with the professor in charge and he told her there were still some spots open. I emailed him that night, we did a zoom call a couple of hours later, and all of a sudden, I was going on a trip! I traveled to Peru for a one-week Spring Break trip just a few weeks before I graduated. I was really nervous to go because I didn't know any Spanish at all, but it ended up being manageable because the other students who did speak Spanish were so helpful to those of us who didn't.
Our days were scheduled to the hour by Professor Kevin Gary. During the day, the Valpo group traveled around Lima. Our days were packed full of meaningful sightseeing and learning opportunities. We tried a new meal every day for lunch, spent time exploring on our own, and reflected together at the end of each day. At night we would split up and go back to our host families.
I stayed with a wonderful host family with two daughters who spoke English. They were really excited to practice speaking with me, and we had so many meaningful conversations about what life is like in each of our home countries. My host mom cooked me a new meal every night for dinner or they would order their favorite so I could try it. I was genuinely so blessed to be placed with that family. They really cared for me, and I am so appreciative of that. I still keep in touch with the oldest daughter even though it's been a year since I stayed with them!
After we left Lima, we flew to Cusco to see Machu Picchu. In all honesty, it was very physically difficult due to the elevation and the amount of travel. But we all got through that and got to experience one of the Seven Wonders of the World with a great group of people. Travel is always going to have some challenges, but that's part of the fun of it!
Looking back, I remember how my body felt during those few days, but I also remember how it helped us bond, how happy I was to get home and go straight to McDonald’s, and how I'm so thankful I experienced that with a group of students and a professor rather than alone. I grew very close to the Valpo students on the trip. I only knew one person going into it and I left feeling so comfortable with everyone. I strongly believe everyone at Valpo should take advantage of a Spring Break travel abroad opportunity. It's probably the only time in your life you can travel to another country, have someone else plan the entire thing, and get college credit for doing it! I absolutely would have never gone to Peru or even thought of doing so on my own. Even if I did, the experience wouldn't have come close to being as meaningful as this was.