Adios Peru!

Study Abroad | August 07, 2019
Brianna Ungaro

Traveling to Peru and participating in this study abroad trip was wonderful. In two short weeks, I found myself reaching beyond my comfort zone, exploring new ideas, making tons of connections and trying new things. I learned more from my time spent with the people of Peru than I ever anticipated. It was hard to always open myself up in high school because people were so judgmental, but since coming to college I have allowed myself to be more open. This experience was full of people who were kind, accepting and non-judgmental.  


On a personal level, it turns out that I needed this time in Peru to help remind me of my potential again. Studying in the medical field is hard and it can often be discouraging. I needed to feel like I could do it again and this service here showed me I am more than just the work I provide, I am the connection to the people I serve. I was thrilled to see a different style of community living, have a different sense of belonging, and create memories in a place unlike any other I’ve ever been to. I find myself wanting to possibly go back to Peru or another country in South America and explore the social determinants of health a little more in-depth.

The more people that ask about my trip, the more I am able to reminisce and remember details about it that show growth within myself. Do I wish I had more time there? Yes. Do I wish I had more time in the clinic? Yes. But honestly, the connections that I made touched my heart in a way that I have yet to experience anywhere else. Even the extra excursion my friend Selena and I went on to go horseback riding through the mountains allowed me to speak to a local who was born and raised in Cusco. Our conversation was about how he got into the tourism industry and what it is like and how he cares for the horses and what about his life does he find the most meaning? He explained to us that this was his family’s business and he saw a historical site that would interest people so he chose to drop out of school and make sure he took care of his family. It is a choice many people make there as tourism is a big source of income. He’s made peace with his decision and is happy to support his family.

I found this truly noble and a concept we often forget in our lives. Many people in America have a tendency to forget their elders, to social climb, or chase opportunities that seem to pose large rewards but actually have even larger costs tied to them. I’m speaking from my experience based on the area I grew up in. Many people try to make their own success but forget the people that helped them get there. I think I was trying to escape that completely so I changed up my whole environment. I always took care of my grandparents and worked and tried to give back to my community. I was raised to believe there is more to life than material things which can be taken away from you in an instant, who will you be without them? I feel like Peru allowed me to explore that idea and take it even further. Who was I without hot water or a heater? Who was I when I had to wake up very early to work long hours with my hands? Who was I when someone was vulnerable and trusted me in their home, in their clinic, in their life? I think I was a respectful, inquisitive, and positive team player and hope that I gave every person a chance to represent themselves as they wanted to.

I suggest this trip for ANY major because no matter where you are in life, compassion and an open mind can get you a long way. You have to be accountable for your actions and how you treat others at all times but especially when you are completely out of your familiar environment lacking the comforts you’ve become accustomed to. I think these kinds of immersions into communities really stretch your mind and soul and push you to dig deeper.

Thank you to all of my followers on this blog and anyone who reads this in the future. I hope you feel welcome to reach out to me and ask me any questions you have. I encourage you to try something out of your routine and test how prepared you are to be a global learner.

The world as we know it is changing and the ability of others to adapt to the mixing of cultures, societies, traditions, disparities, and thoughts or ideas beyond our comfort zones peacefully will help positively change the face of our communities. I truly believe in our ability to leave the divisions behind and unite as a group of humans to make our lives matter and find fulfillment that enriches our souls. 

Thank you again, and hopefully, the next time you hear from me I am giving back to the people in need.