Want to get some easy Spanish credit in a country that is considered to have one of the clearest accents in the world? Want to study an ancient empire or go on unparalleled jungle and mountain adventures? Peru remains THE place to study abroad in South America. With pristine Pacific beaches, mind-blowing Inca ruins, and some of the most challenging treks in the world, there is no shortage of activities to keep students busy outside the classroom. Academically, you can find courses on Incan history, Spanish colonialism, modern South American business, graphic design, and many more subjects. So, what are you waiting for?
Peru is no small country, so study abroad program options are quite varied. From a developing urban setting to something more far-flung, students can scout a diverse menu of options before selecting the perfect semester or summer of study abroad in Peru.
Located on the Pacific coast of South America is Lima, the capital city of Peru. An eclectic mixture of markedly Spanish architecture and Peruvian indigenous culture, Lima is a fascinating place to live and study in Peru. With an exciting nightlife, a variety of amazing seafood restaurants (we especially recommend trying some ceviche), and giant malls, Lima is a modern city in almost every way. The climate is warm and desert-like, but there is always a nice ocean breeze coming in from the coast.
Set in the heart of the Andes mountain range is Cusco, a city that you can fall in love with at first sight. With easy access to Machu Picchu and other Incan ruins, it’s a perfect base to explore the rest of the country, especially if you’re a history buff. As for weather, you can experience all four seasons within one day, so pack a variety of clothes that you can put on and take off throughout the day. Given it’s proximity to the famed site mentioned above, Cusco is relatively touristy. If you desire to improve your Spanish, but anticipate struggling if more English-speakers are around, Cusco might not be a great fit.
Finally, there is the coastal city of Arequipa. Guarded by not one but three dramatic volcanoes, the city enjoys a spectacular, though seismically uncertain setting (don’t worry, the last major earthquake was back in 2001 though). Decidedly Spanish in architecture, Arequipa is located on the southwest coast of Peru. The city offers easy access to Bolivia and famous sights, such as the Nazca lines. Though it isn’t as much of a well-known destination for study abroad in Peru as the other two cities mentioned, if you’re looking for a place that is less touristy and more immersive, this is your spot.
Study Abroad Programs in Peru
One of the more obvious aspects of study abroad in Peru is the amazing history and culture courses available. What many people do not know is that before the Incas, there were hundreds of other nations that rose and fell throughout Peruvian history. In addition to historical classes, Peru is at the forefront of South American business and commerce, and the nation therefore features classes in topics related to business as well.
For those that decide to study abroad in Peru largely because of an interest in history, there are a plethora of Incan history and culture classes to take part in. Focusing on the rise and fall of of the Incan Empire in the 1500s, Incan history classes take students an in-depth look at the “Why’s” and “What if’s” of South America’s largest empire ever. Many of these classes will likely also feature field trips out to old ruins, where local professors will be able to give students tours that will expand their knowledge of the nation in entirely unique ways.
Latin American literature is another great course widely available to international students in Peru. One of the most influential movements in South American history, the Latin Boom, when the likes of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa shaped the unique identity that is Latin American literature, was very much a real movement in Peru. Students who study literature in Peru will be able to gain insight into the lives of some of these famous authors, not only through their works, but by visiting sights that inspired them, or in some cases, maybe even their homes.
Finally, one of the best aspects of study abroad in Peru is the fact that Peruvians speak with a Spanish accent that is easily accessible to new-language learners. There are Spanish language classes offered for all levels throughout Peru. At some of the larger universities, students can even specialize in certain areas of linguistics, such as writing, speaking, or maybe even singing. Taking Spanish language classes in Peru is a great step toward fluency.
Scholarships & Costs
Depending on the length of the program you choose, and what’s included, the cost of studying abroad in Peru can vary anywhere from $1000 to about $10,000. Studying for a semester or longer in a big city such as Lima will hike up the prices; the costs of living in cities like Lima are significantly higher than smaller cities, even touristy ones such as Cusco.
Though full scholarships may be hard to come by (and even harder to acquire), most study abroad programs in Peru offer a number of smaller scholarships. Every little bit helps, right!? Just be sure to ask your program advisor what financial aid information you should have, and use crowdfunding platforms, like FundMyTravel to jumpstart offsetting your overall program costs.
Accommodation & Visas
Deciding on housing in Peru is one of those times when a program provider says “staying with a host family will be truly immersive” that they REALLY mean it. Many students studying abroad in Peru choose to stay with a host family, and not only to learn Spanish more quickly; you can also overeat delicious home cooked Peruvian cuisine and experience what it’s like to live in a Peruvian household. Other types of housing, such as apartments and dormitories, are normally shared with other foreign students, and while fun, can inhibit immersion into Peruvian culture. Independent housing also doesn’t provide meals so students will have to grocery shop on their own.
Visas, though boring, are a necessary part of study abroad and travel in general, and the more you know the less hassle you’ll have. For most students that study abroad in Peru, a free 90-day tourist pass, which is available upon entry into the country, will suffice. If you’re staying beyond those 90 days, your program provider might suggest you take a trip to a neighboring country, like Bolivia or Ecuador, to renew your tourist visa for another 90 days. If you have any other questions or need to contact a Peruvian embassy, visit GoAbroad’s Peruvian Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
The benefits of studying abroad in Peru are almost infinite, because there’s something in Peru for everyone. Whether it’s a three day trek to Machu Picchu, studying wildlife biology, experiencing crazy nightlife, or eating some llama, there’s just so much to do and so many ways to live in Peru.
While the benefits are endless, there are also a couple of challenges that some students might find difficult to accept. Among these include: feeling like a tourist all the time. In Cusco, there is no other industry except tourism, so study abroad students can feel a little overwhelmed; some students claim that no matter where they went or how long they stayed, they always felt treated like a tourist. Just take this with the grain of salt, always act like you know where you’re going, and you’ll soon find that the benefits of study abroad in Peru far outweigh the cons.
Cinch the Deal! Peru is much more than another Amazon dreamboat. This is a place where on your way to take class in international business, you can walk past ancient Incan architecture; where you can see a KFC on one corner, and a 500-year-old Spanish colonial building on the next. Peru is a country where you can go on a hike, explore ruins that a fraction of the world’s population will ever see, and learn more yourself and world around you every day.