Indiana University Overseas Study

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Two weeks into my stay in Lima and I have finally discovered the key to adjusting to life here—striking a delicate balance between independence and dependence.

The most basic tasks seem to require much more guidance than I ever expected. If I need to buy an item, my host mother provides me with specific directions and tells me exactly what I must say to store owners. Gaining a very basic understanding of the transportation system meant having a Peruvian friend show me the ropes not once, but twice. And leaving the house? It can’t be done without a series of questions from my mother here so that she has an idea of where I am and what I’m doing, for my own safety.

After living on my own for more than two years in Bloomington, where I always know where I’m going and how to get there, where I can come and go as I please, acclimating to a world where everything is very foreign and not always entirely safe has not necessarily been easy.
At times, it’s very frustrating.

When I can’t understand what someone is saying to me because of their rapid Spanish, I want to cry. When I’m on a bus and can’t recognize where I am or which direction I’m going, fear roots itself deep in my stomach. When my host mother wants to know exactly who I’m seeing and where I’m going, I feel as though I’m a teenager again, not the 21-year-old that I am.

But each day, I’m realizing more and more that this dependence I’ve experienced is leading me to become quite independent overall.
My confidence grows with each successful trip on the bus to my university, and the Spanish becomes easier to understand with every day of practice. A trip to the post office allows me to further recognize the area I’m living in, and I’m growing more patient with my host mother’s questioning because I now appreciate that she is looking out for me.

I may not be completely self-sufficient at this point, but I’m adjusting to a new sort of independence that will surely benefit me as my journey continues.

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