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College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

  • Students posing at scenic overlook in Peru

Wonders of the world: HRSM students reflect on study abroad in Peru

When you are earning a degree at the University of South Carolina, sometimes learning beyond the classroom means spending New Year’s Eve at one of the Seven Wonders of the World. A group of students led by College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management Interim Dean David Cárdenas spent winter break 2021 studying abroad in Peru, a course designed to provide an introduction to the discipline of travel and tourism with emphasis on the human dimension of global tourism. 

We asked students Dylan Jacob and Emma Riefler to share their reflections on the experience.

What was the best part of the trip?

Dylan: The easy answer is Machu Picchu. It was like an out of body experience. The whole time you're there just, you can't stop looking at everything that's around it. Even the mountains to the side of it are breathtaking. Everything, that drive up, just the whole day was incredible.

Emma: I really enjoyed Lake Titicaca. It was awesome and more than just scenery. It was a cultural experience. We got to see some of the things that they do and some are very different from us. So, I enjoyed learning about all their culture.

What were the Peruvian people and culture like?

Emma: The people were awesome. They were very caring. It was a little difficult for me at first because I didn't speak any Spanish at all. But they were a lot of help and, you know, they still communicated in different ways. And the food was interesting. It was very different, but definitely something to try.

Dylan: I really liked the food. And then the people, it's definitely a very tourist-heavy country, with a lot of different merchandise shops all over the place. So they'll help you out and they try to speak English as best they can. But also just a lot of extremely different people. I feel Lima is definitely the closest to an American city. And then, like, the further out we went, the more cultural values we were able to see. We ate some authentic meals. We cooked one meal underground and ate that later on in the day. 

What was the academic side of the course like?

Emma: We met in the mornings for class-type stuff before going exploring and sightseeing. We wrote seven-page papers at the end reflecting on the experience. And since it was a tourism class, we had to go out and interview tourists.

Dylan: Yeah, that was for me very stressful at the beginning, but by the time we finished it was one of my favorite things we did. Just meeting new people, finding out why they were there, and they all had very different answers. We met people of all ages, from Belgium, from the U.S., all over. Learning why they were in Peru also was really cool.

Neither of you knew anyone else in the group before the trip. What was it like to travel with a group of, at the beginning, strangers?

Emma: That was definitely my biggest fear, going on the trip not knowing anyone, but I think it was a better experience. Not knowing anyone I met some amazing people who I'm still in contact with, and the trip was the perfect amount of time, but also I wish it was longer because towards the end we had just gotten close. 

Dylan: Pretty much no one on the trip came with someone else. So we were all kind of in the same mix. We all kind of needed each other from the start just for, you know, like language reasons or whatever. So it was really easy to meet people and we were all doing the same stuff together, so getting close was pretty easy. 

What would you say to someone considering studying abroad, whether in Peru or elsewhere?

Emma: I would say absolutely try it, and I would say try it alone. You learn more about yourself and you learn more about other people. And I think that's especially what I got out of the trip and I'm already wanting to plan another one.

Dylan: I’d tell them it's okay to be nervous. I was very scared going into it. I was very out of my element, not knowing anyone, but I mean, I would do it over again with a completely different group of people now just because it was, it was amazing, meeting all those people, forming those bonds and you know, just that 10 days. So I definitely recommend it to anyone.

Click to learn more about faculty-led study abroad opportunities with the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management! 

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