After a stressful week of finals and many goodbyes to recent graduates, it was definitely as hectic as it was exciting to finally pack my bags and head to the airport for Peru. I arrived 2 hours early for my flight and wore a UCLA t-shirt so that other students in the program could pick me out of the busy LAX crowd. At the gate I soon ran into several of the other students who were on the same flight to Lima as me. After 8 hours of flying we landed in our new home for the month. Customs went quickly and getting our luggage was simple. Just outside of the luggage area we found the desk for the Green Taxi Company that our professors suggested that we use. It was only 100 soles (about $32) to take an hour-long shuttle for 7 students.

As we drove to our hotel we were able to catch our first glimpse of the city. Foggy white skies, sea-side cliffs blanketed in bright green vines, and crisp ocean air greeted us as we weaved through the urban roads. We arrived at our hotel about 5 hours early but they were extremely accommodating and checked us all into our rooms shortly after we arrived. The hot showers were a warm welcome after a long day of travel. Our goals for the first day settling in were to (a) exchange money (b) eat (c) buy large jugs of bottled water and (d) buy SIM cards for our phones.

(a) We immediately found a bank located just across the street from our hotel. Buuut, unfortunately we realized that it was a Sunday and all of the banks were closed. Luckily most restaurants and stores take Visa and Mastercard and we were able to easily exchange money at the ATM the next day.

(b) There were plenty of food options very close to our hotel in the neighborhood Miraflores. We decided to eat at a restaurant near Kennedy Park, about a 20-minute walk from our hotel. Kennedy Park is in the center of Mira Flores and is surrounded by an assortment of cozy coffee shops, lively sports bars, and restaurants with traditional Peruvian food.

(c) As we are Americans whose stomachs can’t handle the tap water, we immediately needed to buy a lot of bottled water. There was a grocery store just across from our hotel where we bought groceries, snacks, and toiletries.

(d) Many students in our group, including myself, decided to buy Peruvian SIM cards so that we could communicate, call Ubers, and use our google maps without Wifi. Buying a SIM card is definitely one of the cheapest options compared to some of the international plans for Verizon and AT&T. The journey to buying a SIM card was a bit of an adventure… After wandering through Lima fora an extended period of time, we finally found a Claro phone store near Kennedy Park where we could buy SIM cards. We all received our Peruvian numbers using a data package that included unlimited Facebook and Whatsapp Messaging along with 4GB of data. All of this cost no more than $10. The address for this phone store is listed below:

LIMA, Av. José Larco 652, Miraflores 18, Perú

The first couple of days in Lima were filled with a lot of wandering, getting lost, meeting new people, learning new social norms, and practicing some rusty Spanish. Despite the small hiccups in navigating a new city, I immediately felt comfortable in the beautiful neighborhood of Miraflores. With the ocean only a 15-minute walk from our hotel, surrounded by countless incredible restaurants, and accompanied by 25 adventurous UCLA students, I felt nothing but excitement for the next 4 weeks living in Lima.

Mika Nagamoto studied abroad in Lima and Iquitos, Peru, in summer 2018: