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7 Random Things I Learned Volunteering in Peru

Sophie in Peru Sophie Thoms

There's a new lesson every day when you intern abroad.

1. Buying a SIM card for your phone might involve borrowing someone's identity. 

Peru has rigid restrictions on purchasing cell phones, which means that you'll need to provide identification and biometric data. In order to get a SIM card, you may have to grab one of your Peruvian friends, drag him to one of the big stores (not the tiny ones), buy a card for 5 Soles, make him give them his fingerprints and walk out with your new SIM. (It might be good to buy him an empanada for his time, too, actually.)

2. When work starts at 10 a.m., it’s completely fine if you leave the house at 10 a.m.

Nobody is even going your comment your late arrival. But at the same time, this doesn’t mean that you’re not going to work a little longer. Chances are, you'll actually love the work you're doing and will want to make a difference with it.

3. In general, time is a bit more chilled. 

Usually I like to get things done quickly, but many times (for example, in the supermarket) locals slowed me down a bit. What surprised me in these moments was that nobody was complaining or bitching, everyone just waited their turn.

4. Sitting in a combi (bus) might be as uncomfortable as standing.

Particularly when you’re not the height of an average Peruvian and legs might fall asleep after a couple of minutes of cramming them in the little space you have.

5. People will help you if you ask. Always.

When I got lost on the outskirts of the city and didn’t know which bus to take, a lady from one the shops waited with me for 20 minutes. She eventually got her son to stop a bus on the other side of the road long enough for me to jump in.

6. You will, without a doubt, find the best avocados and mangoes in the bodega next door.

Nowhere else they are this juicy and creamy, trust me.

7. People who sacrifice their time and money to volunteer at an NGO are special.

You will find so many like-minded friends, who will be come your family.

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Published in Volunteer Abroad Blogs
Sophie Thoms

Sophie Thoms is currently volunteering with a NGO called HOOP (Helping Overcome Obstacles Peru) in Arequipa, Peru. As a social work student, she is assisting the social worker of the organization in workshops, helping in individual cases and supporting the local community to break the circle of poverty.

Website: https://sophiesroad.wordpress.com/

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