Sam: What Little Things
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Peru, etc.
I come from a multicultural background being Chinese by blood, born in the Philippines where many of my relatives are, and raised in Vancouver, Canada. I’ve traveled quite a bit and lived in Japan for a year on student exchange, but I hardly consider myself a traveler or adventurer. Instead, I’m quite the homebody and prefer to make a cozy nook for myself whether in the Philippines, Canada, or Peru. I lived in Peru for 6 months in 2008 on an internship and moved to Peru in 2010.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging as a way to help me document my experiences before I first went to Peru and throughout that initial 6-month trip. When I decided to move back to Peru 2 years later, I returned to blogging to help remind me of what I love about living there – the laidback lifestyle of the Central Andes encouraged and continues to encourage me to reflect on the little things in life instead of getting caught up in all the big, scary things such as money, career, and life purpose.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
There are a few posts that are my favorites because I feel that they provide varied, descriptive, and personal snippets of what it’s been like for me to live and travel in Peru: “The Crack of Thunder”, “Smelling the Flowers in the Andes”, and “Scary Men”.
The most popular post in terms of traffic was “Calle 13’s Latinoamérica, Our Latin America”, in terms of Facebook Likes was “Lucho Quequezana: Multicultural Musicians Playing Peruvian Tunes”, and in terms of comments was “Health of Happiness: Is It Time to Go Home?”.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Peru differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I’ve found that I can usually adapt well to a new environment if I have a place that I can call home. I didn’t experience culture shock, but things sure are different here in Peru and I continue learning new things every day, even though I’m already going on my third year. What’s important to me is to be able to keep an open mind when it comes to an entirely new culture.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Peru? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I had the advantage of being part of a government-sponsored internship program that provided me with 1 month of development leadership training alongside students from all over the world. On top of that, I had already studied Spanish for 4 years in high school. Even though I didn’t use my Spanish knowledge during my university years, much of the language came back to me within the first few weeks I was there.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
During one of my first weeks in Peru, I made the mistake of asking someone if I could “feel myself here” (sentirse) instead of “sit here” (sentarse) as I pointed to the empty space beside him on a plaza bench.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Peru?
- Not all buses are created equally. For travel to and from different cities in Peru, stick to reputable bus companies as there are plenty of headlines on buses falling off cliffs or getting robbed along the route.
- Try to always have change on you because public transportation money collectors get pissed off if you give them a bill, sometimes even if it’s the smallest denomination. Pay with bills at supermarkets, even if you have change already, so you can collect more coins.
- Peruvians are notorious for arriving late – up to hours late, so bring a book or a Kindle when heading out for meetings or get-togethers.
How is the expat community in Peru? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
There are tons of expats in Peru but very few long-term expats in Huancayo specifically. Most foreigners come to Huancayo for short-term volunteer programs. That just gave me more opportunities to befriend Huancainos and I’d take advantage of day trips to Lima to see expat friends there.
How would you summarize your expat life in Peru in a single, catchy sentence?
Go with the flow.