|Name of the University: Universidad del Pacifico, Lima, Peru
Names of the student: Jeanette Veibakken
Exchange semester: Spring 2007
General Information about the School
Universidad del Pacifico is situated in a relatively calm part of Lima called Jesus Maria. There are possibilities to live very close to the school, though most of the students prefer living in Miraflores, the up-scale shopping area.
The school is divided into two faculties, economics and business administration. Wihtin these faculties they offer plenty of related courses and programs.
The school is not that big, but there are a lot of positive things for being a small school. We were about 40 exchange students from all over the world, though mostly were from central Europe, like Germany and France. We were two persons from the Nordic countries.
The school is mostly like an undergraduate institution, and majority of the students are young, between 18-23 years old.
There are a lot of different courses at the university. Usually one class is two hours, without a pause and 2-3 classes a week depending on the number of credits you take.
The Teaching situation
All courses are taught in Spanish, with the exception of a few courses at postgraduate level. Some teachers are willing to slow down the speed for the exchange students. Though most teachers talk with normal speed.
You should have a basic level in Spanish before you travel to Peru, and as an exchange student you have to try to avoid speaking English with the other exchange students.
The level of the courses offered depends a lot on the teacher and what year the course is designated for. The courses that are made for the first two years at a university are at a lower level than we have here in Norway. While the courses after these two first years tends to be quite difficult. The courses I took were more basic. It felt as some professors considered us as children and needed to explain every basic thing concerning a case or a subject. But every teacher is different and in some classes it was completely different. I believe that in some cases the teaching structure depended on the age of the class.
The workload at Pacifico can be quite heavy. There are generally weekly tests in each subject, based on the homework given. It is important that these tests are prepared since your final grade is 30 % based on how you act in class. The total workload is more or less the same as at BI but you are graded on several different tests and not just one final exam.
The relationship between students and professors are more professional than what we are used to in Norway. As a student you should ask for permission to leave the classroom if you have to. Further more you must attend at least 80 % of the classes to achieve your final grade, if you cannot attend you must leave a message. You should avoid arriving late for a class.
The literature is both in English and in Spanish. Some texts can be quite academic and difficult to understand. The literature is also quite detailed, with a lot of historical details witch can be somehow difficult to get used to.
The exams are based on the literature and you don’t need to read a lot more than the course description says.
I had two written exams and two practical exams. The knowledge level was more or less as it is at BI, though they were a bit smaller because of the tests you take during the semester and because of the mid-term exam. Your grade is as earlier said, based on all these exams and tests plus your participation in class and attendance.
The grading scale is as follows:
19 – 20 Excellent
17 – 18 Outstanding
14 – 16 Notable
11 – 13 Satisfactory
0 – 11 Failed
The library situation is somehow different than what we are use to in Norway. When you lend a book you have to decide what pages and chapters you need and then make copies of them at the copying office next to the library. If you must lend a book with you it is maximum for a night. It is really cheap to take copies though, around 10 “øre” per page. Some professors make copies ahead of a class and you can go to the office and pick them up, for the same price as if you copy them yourself.
There are two large computer areas, though they easily fill up close to the final exams. It is suggested that if you have one, bring your own computer. Each student gets 100 hours of computer use per semester on the stationary computers.
Description of Courses
Course name: Prereq. Exam Approved as Grade
Resolución de Basic Spanish Presentation Extra 18
Liderazgo Basic Spanish Written Extra 19
Expresión Oral Basic Spanish Participation in class Extra 15
Curso Espanol Basic Spanish Written Common 18
2. Practical Information on the School and the Exchange Experience
Information before you left
I started to look up information about the university one year before I left. Eight months before the semester started I began to correspond with he counselor at the Pacifico about housing and all considerations concerning the school. He was very helpful and was quick to reply. He also sent a list of all the other exchange students so that we could get to know each other before we left. All information was sent electronically, with the exception of the appliance to the university.
Visa Procedure and travel experiences
The visa to Peru doesn’t cost anything but it is important to remember that there is no Peruvian embassy in Norway. I had to send my passport to Stockholm to get it stamped.
I bought my ticket through Kilroy Travels. We made a different travel route than just a return ticket Oslo-Lima. I started in Buenos Aires Argentina, and then I flew to Lima. After I finished my studies in Lima I took a plane to Panama City and by bus I traveled to Mexico City where I had my return ticket.
The academic calendar in Peru is the opposite of the Norwegian. The first semester starts in the end of March and lasts until mid July. The second semester starts in August and finishes in the beginning of December. Their summer vacation is therefore from December to March. There is one week of vacation in the middle of each semester, which is the week after mid term.
I came to Lima in the beginning of March when the Spanish course started. It lasted for three weeks, and the last week of March the semester started. There were a lot of activities for incoming students the first weeks.
The international office and the reception at Pacific are really helpful. You get all information you need and they help you with any problem you have. They can also help you find a job or an internship or volunteer work in Lima.
Each exchange student got a Peruvian student as a contact person. But there were very few who used that opportunity. It is a good opportunity to meet Peruvian people and get to know the culture.
At the universities website there are several different housing opportunities listed. All of them are private and range from big student houses, private houses or rooms with families. I lived in a house where the host family lived on the first floor and on the second floor I shared the apartment with 4 others. It was really nice because it is not too big and you get to know the culture. We were invited to birthday parties and barbeques with the family and their friend’s witch was really nice.
I lived in Jesus Maria witch is very close to the school and I could walk. Though most students chose to live in Miraflores, the shopping centre of the city. They had to take a bus to school every day witch can be quite exhausting since the busses are minivans and very crowded and not comfortable. But you can also take a taxi, especially if you share with more people. Taxis are very cheap, but in rush hours the taxis and the busses takes forever and can be a bit scary since they drive like maniacs.
What you choose depends on what you prefer. It is nice to live in the centre where you can easily spend the evenings on cafes, pubs or go to the cinema with other students. The nightlife is also concentrated in Miraflores. The negative aspect is that you are far away from the school. If you have your first class at seven in the morning and then a long break until seven in the evening it can be a long time spending the whole day at the university. Even though I lived far from the centre I took a buss or a taxi downtown in the evenings.
The rent for a room in an apartment or a house is about 200$. They often include internet access. There are no other costs concerning housing.
Books can be quite expensive but you rarely have to buy a new book. You can easily copy the chapters that you need from a book. Most Peruvian students dose it that way.
Food is very cheap, especially meet, chicken and vegetables. Cereals, cheese and milk can be a bit more expensive but not much.
Transporting is also very cheap. But anyone can drive a taxi or a buss so the security isn’t always the best. There are two taxi companies in Lima, one private and one public. They can be a bit more expensive but it is worth it. Never take a taxi were you cannot se what is in the trunk. You decide the price before you enter the car, important, and make sure you have change. The usual fares you can find out by talking to your Peruvian friends. Some taxis try to charge more if you are foreign.
The busses are old minivans and really uncomfortable but it is fun to take them, if you are not long legged! They drive constantly during the day, playing Latin American music and costs almost nothing. They even have a students discount.
The International Office
The international office at the Pacifico is really good and the people who worked there try to do everything to help you organize your stay so that you have a good time in Peru. They cannot help you with issues concerning the courses but that you get help with from the faculty.
As an exchange student you will probably spend most of your free time with other exchange students. You get friends from all over the world but few from Peru witch is sad. We got to know some people from other universities and it seemed as if the contact between international and Peruvian students were better at the other universities. But of course this depends a lot on you.
There are students organizations you can join if you want to do sports play an instrument, dance or other things. There is also a small gym at the university.
The international office had some parties for the international students. There is one organization called APU Peru who offers accommodations in Miraflores. The people who run this organization are Peruvian people who have been exchange students in other countries before. They organize parties and trips all around Peru for international students who live in their houses and all others who want to participate. They are really good at arranging activities and I suggest you to take part in some of them.
Culture and Language
The Peruvian people are very friendly and easy to get to know. They often have social events at home or they meet at cafes and pubs. If you get invited witch you probably will, don’t say now!
The Spanish in Peru is quite easy to understand. They speak slower and clearer than in the surrounding countries. Even this, if your Spanish is not good you will have a problem in school. In the beginning it is very hard but it loosens up. And after some time the international students also starts speaking only Spanish.
I didn’t take a full semester so I traveled a lot through the country. The transport system is super and the trans country busses are amazing, much higher standard than in Norway. Every company have their own website with prices and schedules. If you have the possibility I suggest you to arrive in Peru a few weeks or a month ahead so that you can experience the fantastic country. There is so much to see so you will need some time.
Cultural and Social Effects from the Exchange Experience
A stay in Peru will make you broaden your mind. You will get to know the country from within and not just as a tourist. You will encounter extreme luxury in the big cities but also poverty and tragedy. You will probably come home more grateful for what you have. Still Peru is a fantastic country and the people you meet are open and generous and very helpful. You will probably discover many positive aspects they have concerning life that you will share when you come home.
Concerning my feature career I believe that many companies will consider it positive that you have taken the step to go out in the world to study. It indicates that you are brave, independent and open-minded, witch are things I believe employers will consider as important attributes.
My knowledge in Spanish can open some opportunities though one semester is a bit short to learn the language fully.
If there should be anything more I will be happy to help. The website of Universidad the Pacifico is also very helpful. They have some pages for incoming students where you can find a lot of information and contact persons.
My name and address:
Tlf: 99 33 05 57