Friday, October 14, 2011

Barras Bravas

Alongside the popularity and passion of Peruvian soccer, the sport draws fanatics. As mentioned in previous posts, the fans at the games and around the city during games are insane! Unfortunately in Peru, this insanity can turn dangerous and violent very quickly.

Many of the Peruvian club teams have gangs of fans associated with the teams. These gangs are calles barras bravas. The gangs will travel to games with the teams and especially when their team is playing a rival team, the gangs often get out of hand at these games. These gangs rose up around the 70s and are a very large part of the soccer culture in Lima today.

Fights are certain to break out within and outside of the stadium between opposing gangs. The public knows and is cautious to avoid areas where these gangs might be, although many times this includes major streets in Lima near the stadiums. The gangs are known for throwing large rocks, fighting, breaking things, vandalism, throwing trash/paint/etc. on opposing fans. Sadly, the gangs have turned more violent and some have even began using weapons during altercations in recent times. This has resulted in a number of deaths as well. For example, last year members of a barra brava pushed a local woman from a moving bus while driving through Lima after a soccer game.  This past month, a university student was pushed from a balcony in the stadium at a soccer game by members of the opposing team's barra brava after these delinquents broke into the box seat that the student was in. Both cases resulted in death.

This type of violence is absolutely unacceptable, and from my perspective, it seems no one in Lima wants to take responsibility for what is happening. With no one taking responsibility, no changes are being made. The clubs, the stadium, the city, the police, the State, the players and other fans themselves must ban together to prevent this from taking place any longer. Someone needs to take harsh action, because this must stop!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Futbol en Lima

Soccer, or futbol, is a HUGE thing here; and, as I knew that the sport was very popular around the world, and especially in Latin and South America, but I had no idea just how popular it is here!

I got a chance to go to the Peru vs. Paraguay game last weekend in Lima at the National Stadium! It was INSANE! The game was a qualifier for the 2014 FIFA World Cup which will be played in Brazil. The entire city seemed to stop and either attend or tune in for the game. The week before, a few members of our group waited in line for 8 hours just to buy tickets!!! They are sold at a typical ticket vendor, but easily sell out within the day that they are put up. There is truly not a bad seat in the stadium and as the tickets let you into particular sections, but don't specify the seat to which you are assigned, most fans wait in line the day of the game to get in first and get a good seat. This is what our group did as well. We went to the stadium at 2pm for our game which started at 8:30pm!! Although it was a six hour wait, the time passed quickly because of all the excitement going on around the stadium with vendors and other fans. I was with a group of a few Peruvians and a few other American students. We were interviewed at least four times by news cameras (blonde hair blatantly stands out here!) and being foreigners enjoying the game and cheering for Peru, many stations wanted to interview us. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t realize we would be interviewed on camera and neglected to do our homework on the Peruvian national team. So when asked questions about our favorite players, leading scorers, and the club’s record or history, our answers were probably a little embarrassing. Ha.

Once they opened the gates to let the fans in, it was a mad-dash to the doors of the stadium and into the seats. We got INCREDIBLE seats (about 8th row) and at the end of the field near the goal where Peru scored their two goals in the second half to win the game 2-0 over Paraguay! Inside the game, the excitement of all the fans was unlike anything I have seen in the US. There were fans with fireworks in the crowd and the wave went around the stadium about 100 times! Throughout the entire game, the crowd was fully engaged and excited, and when Peru scored their goals, the crowd, and even the entire city went crazy! You could hear the cheering in all streets in Lima! Of course, the celebration was equally exciting after the win!

Even the following week, this past Tuesday, Peru had a game in Chile.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that all the university classes were cancelled during the game! Again, the entire city stopped to watch the game. Unfortunately this time, Peru lost. But still, the experience was great!

Concerts in Lima

Lima is the capital and biggest city in Peru and for this, there is always something going on. Lima hosts concerts all the time and I have been able to attend a few. All of the big name preformers put Lima on their tours and for this, Lima's hosted Aerosmith, Ricky Martin, Britney Spears, Rod Stewart, Daddy Yankee and others. The bigger names perform in the National Stadium, which is brand new.

In September I went to the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert in the National Stadium in Lima with a group of good friends and it was a blast! It was funny to listen to the crowd singing along to the songs in English while in Peru. We got to the stadium early to try to get good seat and while waiting there for the show to start, the favorite activity from the crowd during the concert was doing the wave. It seriously went 30 times around the stadium (not kidding) before that got old to the crowd.

Lesser known bands come all the time as well, and these concerts are usually free to attend around Lima. I went to a concert in the Plaza del Gobierno in downtown Lima last month and it was one of my favorite events. There were crowds of people gathered to listen to the bands and dance with the music. It was a very fun experience.

Student Housing in Lima

There are many housing options for students coming to Lima, and depending on your preferences, there is sure to be one that fits you!
If you are coming with a study abroad program, the program will set up your housing and you are given these options:
  • Home Stay: Living with a Peruvian family; many are available when studying abroad with a program. Meals and cleaning are provided.
  • Residencia: Living in a home with 5-10 other international students. Must prepare your own meals with this option.
  • Dorms: USIL dorms house international and Peruvian students. Must prepare your own meals with this option.
  • Other: Find your own apartment or reside in a Hostel for the duration of your stay.
Also, the university has student housing options. My university, the USIL, has off-campus dorms options, and offers these to any students on a first come, first serve basis. The dorms located in Miraflores (a district in Lima, about a 30 minute bus ride to USIL). Many international students use these, but as these are popular, there is often a waiting list, and it is not advised to bank on this housing if it is not already set up upon arrival.
 Keep in mind that most Peruvian students live at home with their families.

MY RECOMMENDATION: without hesitation I would recommend to anyone living with a host family! It is the best way to experience the Peruvian culture and food and surround yourself with the language! The families are all very welcoming and accomodating!

My University- USIL

I am studying at the University of San Ignacio de Loyola in the Molina District in Lima. Most students live somewhere outside of the Molina District and take public transportation (taxi, bus or convi) to arrive at school each day. This ride can range anywhere from 10 min to an hour or more.
- Classes are offered in English and Spanish at USIL. Most of the local students speak and understand English, but if you are studying the Spanish language, I would recommend taking 1 or 2 classes besides your Spanish class in Spanish!
- Choosing courses and enrolling for the semester will take place in Lima during the USIL orientation. You will be assissted by the international office on campus. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND: to know what courses you want to take ahead of time and ensuring that your courses are pre-approved by your home university! You only have a week to change courses so you must know ahead of time.
-  USIL is a great university for those studying: business, engineering/architecture, hospitality, tourism and gastronomy (their culinary school is massive and state of the art!)
- There are 95 international students for the fall 2011 semester at USIL. The campus and the overall student body is much smaller than most universities in the US, so you will get a chance to get to know the people you see on campus.

A map showing the USIL's location in Lima, Peru

A view of the courtyard at the USIL Campus

Student Life

If you are studying in Peru, you will notice that:
1. Copyright laws really are not that big of an issue. Teachers don't often expect you to turn in any type of bibliography with your papers, and if a bibliography is expected, it is not thorough (maybe just a website's name).
2. Grades are NOT private. Teachers will often announce grades to the class when handing back papers or tests. Students do not seem to mind, and rather than being competitive or even wanting to keep their grades private, students share their tests and papers with classmates to compare answers and grading after they're handed back.
3. There is group work in nearly every class. Prepare yourself for working in groups! Although it's not usually my preference, group work is a great way that I have used in meeting Peruvian friends and practicing Spanish.
4. Peruvian students are very social. They like to get to know their classmates and will often grab lunch or get together in groups after lunch. They are very welcoming and this makes it easy to make friends.
5. Although many students have jobs, nearly all students still live with their parents.
6. Classes in the university are less organized than we are used to in the US. Teachers may not give out a syllabus in Lima, and the teachers that do, will often divert from what is on the syllabus. After having 2 months of classses, we are not exactly aligned with the schedule in most of my classes.
7. Students and teachers are VERY HELPFUL! They appreciate having international students in their classes and want us to have the best experience possible. Teachers are very understanding (especially with the language barrier-even in classes taught in Spanish) and students are always willing to help when they are needed.
8. Grades are on a 20 point scale, rather than out of 100 as in the US. In Peru, 10 and above is passing. 20/20 is rarely given. Expect this difference when coming to Peru.