Have you ever wondered what it would be like to intern abroad in Peru? We caught up with Laine from our local team in Cusco, Peru, to give insight and guidance for internships in 2018…
- What do you love about living in Cusco?
- What are your most popular internship programs for students?
- What type of person is best suited to interning abroad in Cusco?
- What might a typical day look like for someone interning in Cusco?
- How can interns spend their weekends and what activities are a “must do”?
- What are the cultural customs unique to Cusco that interns should be aware of?
- What items should definitely be on a persons “pack list” for Cusco?
- What is the food and accommodation like for interns in Cusco?
- What advice would you give to someone who is considering an internship in Peru?
- How can I start planning my internship in Peru?
What do you love about living in Cusco?
What’s cool about Cusco is there is a beautiful balance of both local culture, food, and customs and those from all over the world. I love that I can hear 7 different languages and smell the aroma of food from 4 different countries in just a quick walk through the center. I love the energy of such a big city fused with the simplicity and kindness of a culture less consumed by technology and materialism. This simple - yet overwhelmingly gorgeous - way of life gives you less distractions, time to reflect, to pause and appreciate the grandiose of the surrounding Andes, or the intricacy of the historic buildings. It truly is a magical place. Working with international interns is a pleasure too - they all bring unique perspectives, ideas, stories, and walks of life with them. I love getting to know our students and learning about their experiences in different corners of the world.
What are your most popular internship programs for students?
Typically we see lots of interns eager to work with children in Youth Development & Education internship programs, or in medical clinics (within the scope of the Physician’s Assistant internships program), which is wonderful. We work with one particular placement that requires a bit of a longer bus ride but could really use some extra love, and is a really great environment for interns. We also work with a special program for teenage mothers and their children, that can always use an extra caring hand.
The great thing about internships in the fields of education and health, is that there are really a lot of diverse options. For example, health internships offer choices in Special Needs Care, Language Therapy, Psychology, Dentistry, Midwifery, Physiotherapy and Nutrition. These are all in addition to the Physician’s Assistant internship program, which is a great one for pre-med school students.
What type of person is best suited to interning abroad in Cusco and how can they make an impact?
I think you have to be open, curious, adaptable, and ready to expect the unexpected. Understand that Peru is a country and culture most likely very different from what you’re used to, and be dedicated to embracing it completely and accepting it for all of its flaws and perfections. Be open to immersing yourself in the way of life here, to trying new foods, listening to new music, learning new words and dances, and you will be all set for one of the most incredible adventures! The best way to make an impact is to ask yourself what specific skills and talents you can offer, and applying these here in Cusco. Maybe you’re a bit shy, but you notice a shy child in your after-school program and can talk to them and relate to them. Maybe you’re really good at Spanish, and you can meet with other students for coffee and conversation practice. Everyone has something special to offer! Discover what it is for you and find ways to share your strengths.
What might a typical day look like for someone interning in Cusco?
A typical day may start with enjoying a breakfast of hot tea, bread and jam, and fresh fruit with your host family, and walking to Spanish class. You may spend the morning brushing up on Spanish, preparing to communicate with children, patients, or supervisors at your internship. Then you will typically head back home to enjoy a nice big lunch (the biggest meal of the day) with your host family before catching the bus to work at your internship for the afternoon. After returning for dinner with your host family, you might play with the children in your home, watch a movie, or do some journaling (reflective journaling is a component of the Intern Abroad HQ internship program). Otherwise, depending on the day of the week, you could meet up with other interns, show off your karaoke or salsa skills, enjoy a Pisco Sour, or simply walk around the city to enjoy the sounds and sights.
How can interns spend their weekends and what activities are a “must do”?
I’d recommend splitting weekend time between soaking in and appreciating what Cusco has to offer, and exploring all there is to discover beyond the city limits. If you like to shop, there are many baratillos to check out all around the city. Baratillos are kind of like flea markets, usually open on Saturdays, where you can find souvenirs to take back home, or maybe try some local fruit. Haggling is a fun way to get the most bang for your buck, and is an art form you will learn to perfect in the baratillos! There are also museums, cathedrals, art galleries, and Incan sites right here that are must-sees. Top travel destinations are of course Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. There is lots more to see, such as Rainbow Mountain, Humantay, Lake Titicaca or even the jungle.
What are the cultural customs unique to Cusco that interns should be aware of?
Things can move a bit slower here than you may be used to. Don’t be surprised if people run 10-20 minutes late. If you don’t ask for your check at a restaurant, you may be waiting 40 minutes until the staff asks if you need one. Taxis charge a set price, there’s not really a rate per mile. So ask before you accept a ride how much it will cost (“¿cuanto cuesta?”). When you meet someone new, greet someone, or say goodbye, they will most likely initiate the traditional Peruvian greeting. You press your cheek against theirs, and make a kiss noise (don’t actually kiss their cheek). Don’t be surprised if you hear different prices for the same item at different stores becayse haggling prices is pretty normal and expected.
What items should definitely be on a persons “pack list” for Cusco?
If you’re coming during rainy season (November through March) an umbrella, a warm waterproof jacket, and sturdy waterproof shoes will be your best friend. Layers are great to have as Cusco can be very warm in the sun or in the middle of the day, and very cool in the shade and at night. Fuzzy socks will help keep you cozy at night (but you can always buy some bright and colorful ones in Cusco!) A good coat is crucial! I also suggest bringing any personal comfort items important to you like maybe photos from home, your favorite blanket, snacks, etc. I also recommend bringing a small pocket notebook and/or Spanish-English dictionary with you. Every time you hear a word you don’t know, or learn one, just write it down! Then you can go and perfect your new vocabulary by studying this notebook!
What is the food and accommodation like for interns in Cusco?
You can expect your accommodation to be like your home away from home. You may have a shared or private bathroom and will have a private bedroom and access to living areas. We work with very kind families who love having students in their homes and will do everything they can to make sure you are comfortable while you are here. These families all have some pretty great cooks who can whip up special Peruvian dishes for you or ones that remind you of home. You’ll also have the chance to try some of the yummy restaurants here.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering an internship in Peru?
It can be a pretty big and scary step to travel to a different country. If you are ready to embrace a new culture and willing to immerse yourself here wholeheartedly, it will be one of the coolest and life-changing opportunities for you. Try not to be afraid to speak in Spanish, just give it a whirl, and have confidence in yourself! You will also be surprised to discover that language may not be as big a barrier as you think. Definitely check out our available Spanish classes during your internship program, as these can help tremendously. (You can also take classes online with us before you come! Duolingo is a great app that you can practice on for free). If you absolutely cannot decide if an internship in Peru is right for you, grab a coin. Heads is Peru, tails is staying home. Now flip the coin. What did you wish it would land on while it was in the air?
How can I start planning my internship in Peru?
Internships in Peru are available beginning every Monday, from a minimum duration of just two weeks. Opportunities are flexible and there’s something for everyone. It can be challenging to take the first step, but once that decision has been made, the experience only gets better and better!
Apply online first. The application process is non-obligatory and free.
After applying, you’ll receive more details on how to confirm your internship placement.
To confirm, you’ll register online after your application has been accepted. This means taking care of the US$299 Registration Fee, which enables us to provide services and pre-departure support. Peru internship fees can be reviewed online.
Once you’re registered, the adventure begins and your Internships Manager will support you with prepping for your trip.