There are few places that can capture the imagination of travelers like Machu Picchu does in Perú. With its majestic scenic views and mountain top architecture, the site has become the first thing that people think about when they think of the country. But, beyond this majestic World Heritage Site lies an entire country full of indigenous cultures, colonial cities, Amazonian adventures, and environments ranging from deserts to tropical rain forests. For students looking at Latin America, Perú offers many exciting opportunities to study and a variety of location for service programs and internships. When considering this country for an international program, here are some locations to consider:
Lima- The Coastal City
The colonial capital of the country, this sprawling city of 10 million sits on the Pacific coast of the country and enjoys a mild climate most of the year. Established in 1535 by Francisco Pizarro, the city has experienced rapid growth in the 20th century yet has managed to retain its colonial roots. Full of historical and cultural attractions, Lima tends to be bypassed by most travelers as they make their way to Machu Picchu. The country has a long tradition of higher education that makes it appealing to international students and Lima is the home of one of the oldest universities in the New World, La Universidad Nacional de San Marcos. The city is also host to many international programs and universities that offer degrees in anything imaginable.
For those wanting to experience one of the finest cuisines in Latin America Lima has risen to the top of the culinary scene as a gastronomical powerhouse without compare.
Cuzco- The Inca Capital
The traditional seat of the Inca capital, this magestic city has a mystical quality about it and is unlike any other city in Latin America. The architecture of the buildings in the core colonial part of the city are a visual representation of the its history. When the Spanish conquered the city they used the existing Inca buildings as a base for their colonial homes and casonas (large homes encircling a central court). Today, on the foundation of most buildings you can see the exquisite stone work that was characteristic of royal Inca construction while the top of the buildings are of Spanish origin. This juxtaposition also exemplifies the mixture of cultures that can be seen in Cuzco. With a primarily Quechua speaking population that descends directly from the Inca
Empire, this area of Peru is culturally diverse and presents travelers with many opportunities to explore a whole different side of Latin America.
Students in Cuzco can work with many NGOs in an ever growing array of projects including things such as infrastructure development in Quechua speaking neighborhoods and education of Spanish speaking children. They can also study at one of the many local universities or language schools there. For those looking to spend time in a city that has all the amenities of a modern city yet retains its indigenous roots and culture, Cuzco is the perfect city to visit and study or work in.
Arequipa- The Hidden Gem
Perú’s second largest city Arequipa is magestic and surrounded by three volcanoes. This mountainous landscape creates a perfect backdrop for this industrial city, which boasts the title of being the second most economically significant city in the country after Lima. For travelers this city located in the southern part of Perú may seem like its in a different country since it is culturally different from Cuzco and Lima. For students, it has large appeal as it contains 15 universities and is known in the country as a center of intellectual development. Many Peruvian and international students find a quiet appeal in the city that is perfect for undergraduate and graduate studies.
These are just a few of the many locations that students can consider while looking for programs in Perú. More information on programs in these cities is to come and remember, there is so much more to Perú than just Machu Picchu.