Luis: Where are you from? I haven’t asked you before I wanted to know.
Diana: My parents are from Mexico but I was born and raised here.
Luis: So you learned at school or just from your parents?
Diana: Yeah just from my parents
Luis: So you think in Spanish or English?
Diana: I think in both English and Spanish but when I go to mass and I pray I do it in Spanish
Luis: So this summer you went to Peru. How long did you go there for?
Diana: 4 weeks.
Luis: What made you go there?
Diana: I was applying to internships here in the area and I could not get in any of the internships. However I met a person who helped me get the internship. He told me that he knew for many years that I put effort and hard work. He said I am going to give you something if you promise me you keep doing what you are doing. He would give me money to get me do an internship and the limit was $3500. So I started looking around to see where I could go. I realized I was losing my Spanish because I was busy at school. I was only listening to Latin music but that is different from speaking it. I started looking around for places where I could use my Spanish for my field. I did research on organizations to see if they could be trusted. The organization that called my attention. It is called “work the world.”
"The only place they had where I could use the Spanish was Peru. They were fast at responding and I felt like I could trust them. I wanted to go to Puerto Rico but I could not find a trustworthy organization." Diana Albor
Luis: How was it there?
Diana: First day was very different. The guy who approached to me did not know how to interact with me and he wanted me to speak in Spanish not English. People say hello there with one kiss on the cheek.
Luis: In Spain we give two, we like to kiss haha.
Diana: Haha. I learned how to greet to people and all of that. At first they introduced me where things were in the city (Arequipa). It is south of Peru. It was a bit a cold because it was winter time. I was not expecting that cold because I brought warmer clothes. During the day it was warm but at night the temperature dropped. I had to buy winter clothes haha. Afterwards, they introduced me to people that lived in house full of students from other places. In our house where I stayed the people were doing internships for pharmacy school, med school, nursing, physical therapy, dentists…etc.
Luis: You all were related to medical fields right.
Diana: Yes. Then we got to know each other. The first week it was optional to take Spanish. You had to pay a bit more if you wanted get Spanish classes. The classes were to teach about culture, grammar, etc. I had to take some classes and it helped me even though it was hard because I never did grammar.
Luis: You never did grammar?
Diana: Never. I just learned from my parents. Listening to them.
Luis: That is impressive you learned just from that.
Diana: The classes did help me a lot. Learning Spanish terms and other things. I had trouble communicating in Spanish and English when I got there to the house. My Spanish is Mexican so it’s quite different from Peru’s Spanish. They told me it was different but…
Luis: Yeah they are dialects. They are distinct than other Spanish in other countries. The way you say things change. Additionally the tone, words you use, etc. In Peru something can mean a totally different thing than in Mexico, Spain, Colombia…etc
Diana: It was the same with English. Because some were from Australia, UK, and people from the USA use different words. For example, they use trousers and I was like trousers what do you mean haha. It was a good time though I learned a lot. I was the only one who was bilingual. Well some spoke English but not completely fluent. Maybe three people like the manager, assistant…but the rest did not know. Some only spoke Spanish.. I had to help most of them with translation tasks. They would be like you need to come with us and help…
“This hardship for communication made me realize that even though we are from different cultures it does not matter, we are more similar than we think” Diana Albor
Luis: You should have charged for your services! haha
Diana: Haha maybe I should have…but I would tell them I like challenges.
Luis: How would you say studying abroad has impacted you since you came back?
Diana: Especially with language. If I would have known only one language it would have limited me more of my experience in Peru. Then that helped me a lot and when I came back I had a feeling of value and appreciation of having two languages. They would ask me how I learned Spanish. Many people there do not know a lot about the US and that we have Mexicans and Spanish is the language used mainly other than English in the US.
“Also, what I learned about their culture. I valued that I was more open-minded and recognize we are more similar to other cultures than we believe” Diana Albor
Luis: What changes have you experienced since your return, positives and negatives?
Diana: Positives…in the house we lived it was all health majors people. The people there ran and worked out every day and I was like this is too much haha. I should be doing this but…that is too much. At least I drink a lot of water now. It made me realize I need to eat healthier. I experimented with one of the meals they taught me how to prepare there. I tried cooking it. That is pretty much the biggest positive change. Eating healthy. The way the cook there is all fresh and healthy. For example, filled avocado. Aguacate relleno. It is filled with chicken, corn, lemon, creme…
Luis: That sounds delicious. Now I am hungry because of you!
Diana: Haha. That was one of things I brought with me, eating healthy. Also how we have the health system set up here. There in Peru they do not have much resources. They have to what they can with what they have. They might use same instruments for the same people and here we use many instruments for different people. I think bringing resources to them would be great because that can contaminate other patients. I realized about that and maybe we could donate things such as devices to measure the pressure, etc.
Luis: What would you have liked to know before going there?
Diana: I believe I would have liked to know more about the culture and the history of the country. Maybe study a bit more of Peru.
Luis: So to know more about Peru’s past not just the present?
Diana: Exactly. They are very proud of their history and Incas and all of that. I would have liked more to know about it so I could have valued it more or make sense of it.
Luis: Imagine that I am student and this is my first time studying abroad. I am afraid. What would you advise to this student? For someone who has never been?
Diana: To go with an open minded attitude. If you go with your own perspective that you are different you won’t be able fully communicate with them and won’t have the full experience there. Go with an open mind and experiment with food, culture, people, the religion…be able to connect with others. That helps and they value when someone tries to immerse in their culture. You will also learn more of yourself by doing this.
Luis: Do you have any recommendations for our center that we could have done better or helped with studying abroad?
Diana: I think for me it was a bit different because I went with Dr. Parsons to India and I already knew him but if it was someone’s first time he or she is going need a lot of help. Especially if they are traveling for their first time in an airplane. It might seem as something small but it’s actually very big for them. Maybe have meetings or write something such as notes or information about the airport, advices about when to buy the ticket when is the cheapest and everything. Also advises for packing and luggage. Things such what you can bring with you.
Luis: It would be better for us to have meetings to inform students about traveling.
Diana: Yeah and the ones that are interested. For example if you have traveled to the country you are sending the student give some advises and information about the country. If they speak a different language raise awareness and maybe take some classes of the language or learn basic concepts to be able to communicate. Basic tools to interact with others.
Luis: Why did you choose to study abroad?
Diana: I like to help others and learn from other cultures. History, other people. I like to know what they do or what the culture does. The best way to learn this is to actually go to the country. You can read from articles and news but you won’t be able to understand it completely until you actually go there. Everyone interprets information in different ways.