Jordan Parry - 2014 Program Participant
On Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun), in the middle of Lake Titicaca. It was two days of no internet or cell phone service, but we made up for it with the most beautiful views imaginable!
What attracted you to teaching programs in Latin America?
I want to go to graduate school to pursue a PhD in Romance Languages. I have a degree in Spanish, but I knew I wanted to live abroad, immersed in the language and culture, and really perfect my Spanish skills before beginning such a high-caliber program. Having a degree in teaching ESL already, I knew I could get a job teaching English abroad without going through a TEFL/TESOL Certification program, but I wanted to go through an organization so that I would have a support system in my new home and could ease into life abroad with a group of peers who were doing the same type of thing as I was.
Why did you choose Maximo Nivel’s program in Peru specifically?
I first chose my location, and I chose my program second. After a lot of research, I decided I really wanted to be in Peru! For several reasons: the food, the language, the proximity to really neat travel opportunities, the climate, etc. I then chose Maximo Nivel in Cusco because their program is so comprehensive.
What is your favorite part about teaching in Cusco?
I'm a Colorado/Wyoming mountain girl, so I knew I wanted to come to Cusco so I could feel a bit at home in the heart of the Andes. Plus, the weather here is perfect for me--not too hot.
My best friend, Will, came for a visit from the U.S. Here we are visiting Machu Picchu. All the travel guides will tell you to avoid November/December dates to visit that historic site, but don't listen to that advice! The crowds are way thinner then, and the weather is still nice (rainy season hasn't really gotten into full swing yet)!
What makes Maximo Nivel unique?
Maximo Nivel is not just a TEFL/TESOL certification course, it's almost like a university study abroad program! By that I mean they provide things like family homestay housing, 24/7 support for small emergencies, like lost luggage or illness (both of which happened to me!), on-site Spanish classes at every proficiency level, and multiple weekly activities to get to know locals and peers, activities like salsa lessons, walking tours of the local museums, day trips to the nearby Sacred Valley, Peruvian cuisine cooking classes, and on and on and on! It was a fantastic program and I'd recommend it to anyone!
What did you think of the Maximo Nivel staff in Peru?
The team at Maximo Nivel is incredible! They bend over backwards to make sure everyone has a safe, fun, and valuable experience abroad. They are available for support 24/7, so any time I needed something, they were there to help!
If you could go back in time, is there anything you would do differently?
Um, I don't know, I feel like I've done a pretty good job this time! In college, when I went to northern Chile for a study abroad program, I did no research ahead of time and had no idea what I was getting into. As a result, I was fairly unhappy for most of that trip; the culture shock was just too much for me. This time, in coming to Cusco to do a TEFL Certification program, I did so much research and prepared myself really well before I ever left the U.S.
This is my biggest piece of advice in avoiding the culture shock blues: prepare yourself well before you go so that you know what to expect. Then, when you have a rough day or really miss home, you'll be happy that you thought to pack your favorite guilty-pleasure book or high-calorie snack from home!
Describe what a day in the life of a TEFL student in Peru was like.
On a normal day, during the TEFL course, I'd wake up (in the home of my amazing host family!), eat a nice breakfast of rolls with jam or butter, walk to Maximo Nivel (the institute where I took the course), and have class from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (with short hourly breaks and a longer break every day for lunch). After class, there was always some kind of activity going on at Maximo Nivel, sometimes salsa lessons, sometimes a walk to a local museum, etc. Then I'd head back to my homestay, where I'd eat dinner with my host family and work on my assignments for class.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time in Peru?
I loved the weekly salsa classes! It was so fun to mix foreigners with local Peruvians to learn the basics of salsa dancing while practicing Spanish. Plus, there was always delicious guacamole with chips to munch on.
What did you like about your housing arrangements?
I had a family homestay, which was fantastic. Maximo Nivel has the very best families involved in its programs. I still have dinner at least twice a month with the family I lived with. They are incredible people and were so supportive! Plus, I was practicing my Spanish 24/7.
The cathedral in Cusco's main square, the Plaza de Armas. The Plaza is almost always buzzing with tons of people, and the architecture surrounding it is breathtaking.
Now that you're home (in your new home), how would you say earning your TEFL certificate in Peru has impacted your life?
I'm actually not home yet! I came to Peru with the intention of staying long-term. After completing my TEFL/TESOL Certification with Maximo Nivel, I stayed in Cusco to work in an English teaching program. I will be here for approximately another year. I plan to do some traveling around South America for a month or two afterward, and then head back to the U.S. for graduate school. The biggest change to my life and perspectives that I've noticed here in Cusco is that I have lived here long enough to really grasp Peruvian culture and not just notice differences between Peruvians and Americans, but appreciate and respect them.