As I stated before, after only a few days, I feel as though I have learned SO MUCH about the culture and the different way of life in Peru.
Here are some CULTURAL TIPS which I figured out in the first couple days:
- One of the first things that I noticed was as soon as I was picked up from the airport, I was greeted by all with a kiss on the right cheek. This is how Peruvians say hello, good-bye, even good night or just before leaving a room.
- Toilet Paper does not flush. This is something that is useful to know in many foreign countries- including Peru. The plumbing and water pressure is not as strong as in the US, and for this, the toilet paper will not flush down the toilet. If it is flushed, the toilet will clog. There are waste baskets next to all of the toilets, and after wiping, you throw away your toilet paper in the waste basket. At first, this takes some getting used to, but after only a week or two, it begins to feel normal.
- La Agua. The water in Peru is NOT okay to drink if you are from the US. The water out of the tap is not purified and you must drink bottled, or boiled water. This is not a problem for me, because my host family boils water everyday so that we will have pure water to drink. The problems come when you want bottled water outside of the house. Typically, when asking for or ordering bottled water, you will receive corbonated water. To avoid this, you must clarify that you want a "botella de agua sin gas" (without the carbonation).
- I am realizing that in all things, being punctual is not a big deal. We have had various orientations, meetings, classes, and even tours. Nearly all of our scheduled events to this point have started 15-30 minutes later than scheduled.
- Being politically correct is no big deal in Peru. Many Peruvians "call it like they see it" more or less. For example they will instantly give people nicknames based on thier appearance. (A Chinese person will be referred to as "Chino" or a heavier set person will be called "gordito" or "gordo". In a group of Peruvian people, I am always referred to as "la gringa" or "la rubia"). This was made apparent to us as soon as we arrived at our host family.
- Affectionate and caring people! The Peruvians are very caring and welcoming. Coming in as a foreigner, this has been very comforting. Although, their affection is appreciated, for me, at times, it can be too much. You can see these very affectionate qualities acted out everywhere! In other words, there is a lot PDA! Couples are everywhere on the streets, in stores, and in the buses. And they are usually making out. This was a surprise for me, and something that I am still getting used to.
- Also, the Peruvians have a smaller "personal bubble" than in the US. They stand closer to you when talking to you. It is not so much so that it is uncomfortable, but it is noticeable.