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A young arriero leads a mule across fresh snow in the Peruvian Andes. Photo by Benjamin Swift (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest Finalist), South America Semester.

Three observations from homestay round 1

With the end of our first homestay coming into sight, I wanted to take the opportunity to share three things that I’ve learned/experienced so far:

1. LIFE AND DEATH WALK HAND IN HAND. Home staying on a Bolivian farm I probably have experienced more death in only two weeks, than I have in several years back home. Not only was one of the puppies introduced to me while chewing on a pig leg, but several days later I was about to find out where that pig leg probably came from. Coming home from my cooking class on friday night, I was not only greeted by a welcoming wave of Buenas Tardes by my host family, but also by the sight of a freshly smothered pig, neatly separated in parts, sitting in a huge bowl next to a cat that was very eager to get a fresh piece of meat. Although I am sure that that was a never to be forgotten experience, I must admit that it could never live up to the hatching of a turkey I was able to witness during breakfast on Monday morning.
2. PEOPLE. Against all expectations was it only a matter hours until I felt comfortable in my homestay family. The incredible amount of kindness, openness and effort shown towards me by my host family astonishes me every day. However, the biggest act of kindness I got to experience, was when I was completely lost at the Trufi end station/University of Tiquipaya and, due to my unfortunate lack of Spanish, (Working on it though!) I was unable to figure out the right way home. “Silvana”, this super sweet Peruvian girl studying abroad here, walked 20 minutes with me to make sure that I got home!
3. FOOD. If you like potatoes, meat, pasta, quinoa, rice and beans, come to Bolivia, you will love it here!