University of Calgary

Postcard from Peru




Echo Miller, BSc'04, is a University of Calgary Master of Teaching student in the Faculty of Education. She is in Lima, Peru on a teaching practicum. This is her postcard home.

Why study in Peru?

Peru is a wonderful country which I have always wanted to visit. From jungles in the Amazon to the desert sand dunes of the Andes Mountains, the landscape and different regions are diverse and very unique. This country offers magnificent archaeological sites and wonders such as Machu Picchu. People are very friendly and once you begin to start small conversations, people will open up and be more than happy to talk to you. Each region has its own cultural features integrated and displayed through their music, food, clothing and language.

Why go on a teaching placement abroad?

I am finishing my Master of Teaching education degree through the Teaching Across Borders program, a unique study abroad program where students have the opportunity to study and do a teaching placement abroad during their final semester. During this past semester, 44 students were in schools all across the world. While I was in Peru, I continued my education studies online and taught two days a week at a school in Lima. I worked closely with the English department helping out with classes and assisting students with their conversational skills in English.

Nasca SpiderWhat were some highlights of your travels?

My first degree is in archaeology, so Peru was a great destination to see amazing archaeological sites. Each site and cultural group is so different from the next, revealing unique and interesting features. I was completely speechless while we flew over the Nazca lines. The lines are incredible and no one really knows why they were made; tons of speculations but no actual answers. I expect Machu Picchu to be amazing. At the National Museum in Lima, I saw a photo exhibit of the recent history of Peru. I learned a lot about the government of Peru and the terrorist group The Shining Path. It was unbelievable what the people of Peru had to go through during the ’80s and ’90s and it is still occurring in some parts of Peru today.

Tell us about Peru’s culinary delights.

The food is amazing and I am constantly trying new foods. So far I have eaten anticuchos (which are shish kabobs of beef heart), ceviche (which is raw fish soaked in lime juice and hot pepper), and I have tried cuy (which is guinea pig). Cuy wasn’t my favorite but I will give it one more try when I get to Cuzco (an Incan city). While I was in Lima, I also went to my very first futbol or soccer game. It was amazing and I can understand now why the world is obsessed with the game.

LimaHow have you personally grown from this experience?

I feel that this experience has made me more aware of how it feels to be a non-native speaker in a country. This was the hardest thing for me here. I now know enough Spanish to travel around comfortably, but as far as having intellectual conversations with people, it is almost impossible. This is very difficult as I would love to be able to have discussions with others but my vocabulary is just not at the right level. If anything I think that I will be more aware and more sensitive to both students and parents of my students who do not speak English. Although I knew before that it was hard for non-English speakers in Canada, I now have a greater understanding of language barriers and I will try my hardest to help my students in the class and their families during meetings.

What are your future plans?

I am hoping to get a job working in an international school teaching elementary. This world is so big that I am not ready to return to Calgary yet as I need to see and travel more. I would really like to stay in a Spanish-speaking country if possible so that I can continue to improve on my Spanish and one day hold intelligent conversations.

For more information on study abroad programs please visit the Centre for International Students and Study Abroad website ( This postcard was supplied by the International Centre.