Peru Things to Do List
Study Abroad Tips

Terry Marshall

Note: This Peru things to do page is part of a series of blogs that we did during our international study abroad program in Peru. Each blog focuses on one or two language learning strategies or study abroad tips. They are designed to show you how to implement Walkabout language learning in your own international study abroad program. Use our examples here for any language you want to learn. See the "More Peru Stories" list of links on this page for additional study abroad tips.

We had this Peru things to do list for our international study abroad program, see, but . . .

I've had a month to plan and prepare for this international study abroad program. I finished up the penultimate draft of my Mexican-American civil rights novel, Soda Springs, late last month and began the agonizing process of sending out query letters to find an agent. Then I set to work on international study abroad program: researched language schools, figured out a basic travel plan, listed in tedious detail all the things we had to do before departure day.

Ah, yes, the best-laid plans of mice and men . . . There are some study abroad tips here: it really does pay to plan ahead – because no matter what you do, it all comes down to a wild rush in the final days. Today, for instance, my Peru things to do list starts like this:

Plan for Medical Needs

We checked the US Centers for Disease Control to find out what medical precautions we need to take. OK: we took care of the three shots a couple of weeks ago, but we needed prescriptions for acetazolamide, the pills everyone says we need to fight off high-altitude sickness. (Cusco is at 11,000 feet.) That called for doctor's appointments. OK; there went ten days.

We finally got our prescriptions and I hustled off to the drug store today to get them filled. They don't keep the stuff in stock; they have to order it! Besides Ann's doctor prescribed one dosage, and mine another, plus five times as many pills. This pharmacist and I had a friendly chat about that, and since she never deals with this medicine for this problem, we spent a goodly amount of time figuring out what we really need. Got that done. Now all I have to do is go back when the pills come in. Tomorrow, they say. Let's hope. Many of the preparations for embarking on an international study abroad program are not routine, thus they take longer than your usual tasks.

Plan for Money Needs

Next item on my Peru things to do list: my branch bank in the grocery store where I do my shopping. We plan to take our spending money in cash. The guidebooks say foreigners pay significant currency conversion fees, VISA surcharges, or even higher rates for cashing travelers' cheques. One of our best study abroad tips is to make sure that you plan ahead for your money needs. Needing new bills isn't something that we would have thought if we hadn't done our research.

Simple task: but wait, the guidebooks and folks I've talked to in Peru say I need new bills – banks and businesses there may refuse to cash the old, dirty, written-on ones I typically use. The problem? The branch bank doesn't have new bills. They specialize in dirty old crappy ones; the well-worn kind they throw away at the fancier casinos, I guess.

Next stop: the "real" bank some miles away. Guess what? No new bills either. But they can order them. They'll be here by Friday. Good enough – too bad we'll be out of town Friday. I'll pick them up Monday. Probably won't have anything else to do anyway.

So it goes: even simple tasks take longer to get done that you expect.

Plan for the Unexpected

Then there are the unexpected things that weren't on my Peru things to do list, that I couldn't plan for.

For example, the nasty note two weeks ago from our homeowners' association saying my pony wall out front of the house is an unsightly, disgusting disgrace, and I'd better get it painted.

And, by the way, I've got two weeks to let them know what I'm doing about it. Frankly, the wall isn't that bad, but it was on our to-do list, so we moved it to the top. We called around, got bids, choked at the prices, and agreed with a local contractor. They're out there this very moment fixing it.

Then came Ken Burns' newest production on PBS: The War, a 14-hour production on World War II, given to us in 2-hour doses four days this week, and three next. I am buff of my father's war for several reasons. Watching the documentary is not on my Peru things to do list, but we don't want to miss it – we lived for three years on Guadalcanal, traveled many times to Tarawa, lived in Leyte (where McArthur returned to honor his famous pledge, "I Shall Return"), and have several friends who survived the Bataan Death March. All these episodes have been prominently featured on the series.

It's a fascinating story, one I wouldn't want to miss, and we aren't complaining, but it's been taking away our evenings. That point again: things crop up at the last minute before an international study abroad program adventure like this one. The best of my best study abroad tips: Try to do as much as you can as early as you can.

While we're there, we'll be using the techniques of Walkabout Language Learning. If you'd like to try the same techniques we're using, we recommend that you download the Walkabout Language Learning Action Guide. It will show you how to create your own tailor-made language learning program.

Study Abroad Tips

  • Check on and take needed medical precautions.
  • Plan for spending money: cash vs travelers' cheques vs credit cards.
  • Prepare for unexpected delays and diversions as you get ready for your international study abroad program.

--Posted by Terry, September 26

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