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Studying Abroad in Llamaland

​Hi, everyone! My name is Ruth Hogle, and I am a senior cello performance major in DePaul’s School of Music. Welcome to my DeBlog page!

There are many things I am passionate about and love writing about, and one topic that I still love to talk about is my experience living and working in Peru my past two summers.

When I entered my freshman year of college, I never thought I would travel outside of the country during my four years at DePaul. As a music major, it is very difficult to find a study abroad program that allows me to earn credits at a different school during the school year. Because my major is so focused and requires a lot of specific classes in order to earn my degree, taking time away during the quarter was not an option. And I was okay with that; I accepted it.

And then sophomore year happened. All of a sudden, I craved adventure. I felt a strong desire to travel to a foreign place on my own before I became an upperclassman in college. So I began looking for missionary programs around the world, including trips to Asia, Europe, and Australia. However, around the time I was looking online at these programs, a friend from my cello studio told me about a program he had volunteered with the previous summer…in Peru. 

My first thought? “Peru?? What exactly is so cool about that place?” I had actually never heard much about South America as a whole, let alone this country on the west coast of the continent. I vaguely knew what Machu Picchu was, but that was it. However, soon after, I met with my friend and learned about the program and instantly became very interested. Hearing his experience and seeing the deep love he has for Peru really inspired me. I could hear a new word screaming at me in my head” “Aventura!!” I ended up applying the next day and was accepted as a music teacher with this nonprofit organization, Vive Perú, two days later! ​

 
So my first summer, I taught cello lessons five days a week at a local music conservatory in Trujillo, Peru and traveled on the weekends. It was incredible to learn about Peruvian culture, to travel to other places, and to make music with people from an entirely different place.

This past summer, I returned to Peru to work with Vive Perú as an in-country coordinator. My job entailed running errands, visiting other volunteers at their work sites, taking photos of the volunteers, updating our organization’s social media, and helping lead workshops and medical campaigns. This summer taught me a lot about how a non-profit organization runs (which was so fascinating…and overwhelming!!), and I learned even more about Peruvian life, as I developed strong friendships and grew close to my Peruvian host family.

Whenever I reflect on the total of four months I spent in Peru, I always smile. My time in South America did actually change me. There is something about living in a completely different and new place, away from everyone and everything you know that really pushes a person to grow exponentially. I experienced once-in-a-lifetime things and will have stories to tell for the rest of my life!

 
Some highlights of my trip: bungee jumping and repelling down a waterfall in Ecuador; practicing and speaking Spanish; petting multiple llamas, pigs, sheep, and hairless Peruvian dogs; sand boarding; performing in a fourth of July concert with the Trujillo Symphony Orchestra and being the only American on stage; forming friendships with Peruvians, with whom I still talk; and playing with children from a severely impoverished neighborhood multiple times a week and seeing them smile and laugh.
If you have an adventurous spirit and crave to see the world, consider studying abroad! If you want to learn a lot about a different place and about yourself, take the plunge (like I did when I jumped off that Ecuadorian bridge!) and climb that mountain (similar to the Andes mountains I visited multiple times the past year!). The world is literally yours to discover.
 
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