I moved to Peru when I was 19. When I first got to the airport, everything seemed so unreal. I felt like all the strings around me had been cut. I felt as if I had been given a new life. Some might shy away from traveling or living in a foreign country because they are afraid to be alone, but from the moment I left my family at the gate in the airport, I had an unusual feeling of confidence. Sure, I was physically alone because there wasn’t anyone else beside me, but I didn’t feel lonely. I felt complete within myself. And really, being there for yourself is one of the greatest gifts. It’s amazing the depths you can reach when you know that you can no longer go back—that you have to grow and experience life.
I chose to live in Peru because I knew it would be a life-changing experience. I wanted to be completely thrown out of my comfort zone and immersed in a different language to prove to myself that I could find my way. There is only so much growth that can be done in one place. When you are in a new environment, you start to notice more and more of the world around you, but you also notice your own habits (and maybe even how they aren’t helpful for you anymore). While venturing into unknown territory with a bag full of habits and fears, it is more difficult to hold on to them than it is to make a change for the better. You have to adapt to the world around you. You have to let go of the way things used to be—the way you think they “should” be. But that doesn’t mean you lose yourself. It actually gives you more room for creativity to be yourself. As you grow aware of the world around you, you grow more aware of yourself.
I have always wanted to go to South America. It always seemed like a place of mystery to me. Something inside of me knew I would live there someday. I considered living in different countries. Greece. India. New Zealand. None of them felt right for me. I decided to stop resisting this feeling deep inside of me and began looking at different areas in South America.
I had taken one year of Spanish in college, and all of the programs that I saw in South America only offered classes taught in Spanish. I wasn’t at that level of proficiency yet. I eventually found one program that offered classes taught in English in Cusco, Peru.
The program that I chose was through IPSL (International Partnership for Service-Learning). Part of the program involves living with a Peruvian family, and another part involves service-learning projects within the community. I knew both of these would help me (or anyone) learn more about the culture and language.
I’d just like to encourage anyone who has a dream that seems so unattainable to never give up hope. Keep going — keep working toward it. Things don’t happen instantly, but eventually they DO happen. They take time, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit around waiting for “someday”.
Creating dreams and watching them turn into reality is what life is about.
Someday is every day.