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Discovering the lost city and a love for travel

Carrie McGaha
CHASS Communications Intern

See the world! Climb mountains, visit ancient ruins, improve your foreign language skills! Eat guinea pig!

Stephanie Wilson (Psychology ’12) did it all last summer studying abroad in Peru.

NC State’s Study Abroad program has greatly impacted thousands of students’ lives over the years. Students grow personally, become catalysts for intercultural development, and attain their educational and career goals while studying in another country. For many like Stephanie, the opportunity is made possible with the help of a scholarship from the international programs committee in CHASS.

Just days after she finished her exams, Wilson packed her bags and her passport and headed to Peru with more than 40 other NC State students. “I’m minoring in Spanish, and I knew getting the experience to go to Peru and be surrounded in the culture of another country would be a great way to learn the language,” Wilson said. “The Peru program was seven weeks long, unlike most programs that are only four. Those extra 21 days were valuable time for learning.”

Besides broadening her perspective and sharpening her language abilities, Wilson got to know her peers during a 12-day travel study that focused on the Inca and colonial heritage of Peru. Wilson and her group explored Cusco, the Inca capital. She visited the city and the surrounding area, including Ollantaytambo, Chincheros, Sacshuaman, and Pisac. She sampled such traditional Peruvian dishes as ceviche–fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices. And yes, she even had a bite of cuy, or as we call it, guinea pig. “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but it’s not something I want to eat a lot of,” Wilson said with a laugh.

The final leg of the travel study excursion included a hike to the lost city of the Incas, Macchu Picchu. “I was nervous to hike the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu because I’m not exactly the camping type,” Wilson joked. “Climbing a mountain and reaching the top to see amazing archaeological ruins was an achievement for me.”

Between visiting a world heritage site, bargaining in local markets, and boarding down sand dunes, CHASS faculty members Dr. Kay and Leonardo Villa-Garcia, who teach in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, provided students with even more insight into Peruvian life with classes that complemented students’ immersion into the culture. “I got to see another way of life and how the stereotypes we have about South America are largely not true,” Wilson said. “It was also interesting to learn about family roles and social structures of another country and compare them to the American way of life.”

Wilson has joined the ranks of study abroad enthusiasts. “It’s really an experience you can’t get any other way,” Wilson said. “College is the perfect time to explore the world.”

Even if you’re not open to eating guinea pigs, study abroad is a chance to open your mind and become globally engaged.

Remember, November is International Month. All are welcome at the international tea and coffee on November 17 from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. in Caldwell Lounge.