The Difficult Days Abroad; Getting Sick, Needing Space and Soaking in the Culture


Being sick in your own country, in your own house, in your own bed with Netflix, with your husband to bring you blankets, and your dog to snuggle is bad enough. What about being sick in a country where you can barely speak the language and still struggle with the culture?

Last week I got a stomach infection while living and teaching here in Peru. Most travelers are familiar with the dangers of eating foreign food, consuming water in a developing country, and the tummy troubles of long plane and car rides. Before my trip, I told my doctor I was going to be in Peru for three months. She promptly wrote a prescription for antibiotics to take with me.

Of course I forgot those antibiotics at home in California. Thankfully, in Peru you can purchase many antibiotics over the counter. Still, ten days of antibiotics means a long recovery. During those days I was at my most vulnerable. I wanted nothing more than to be home in my own bed with my husband and dog and cartoons in English. Instead, I had my host mother following me around the house giving me strange, well-intentioned herbal remedies that my stomach didn’t really appreciate. Miserable, I cried and not-so-secretly wished to go home.

Those difficult days created difficulties with my homestay family. Our cultural differences came to a head, and they knew I didn’t want to be there.

I have finished my antibiotics and can eat somewhat normally again. I spoke with my homestay family and ended up staying in a hotel in the touristy area of Lima for a couple days. There, I was able to rest, and we all gained some needed space.

Barranco Lima Peru July 2015 022 IMG_5019

I returned to my homestay today, and all is well again. Two of my three months with my new Peruvian family are up. Three months is a long time to be away from your home and a long time to have a foreigner in your house.


We have to remember that life in a foreign country is still a regular old life. At times it can seem like a dream vacation, but at other times it can seem troublesome and like too much work. The week I was sick was absolutely miserable. However, since then I have already jumped back into teaching, learning, and the joys of a traveling life. I have visited ancient Pre-Incan ruins, walked along a lovely beach, sipped Peruvian espresso and Pisco Sours, witnessed the wingspan of an Andean condor, and more– all right here in Lima.


I have to remember now to soak in all that I can as the weeks come and go. Soon, I will be home again. In my time so far I have gotten to know the city of Lima, Peruvian culture, and the Spanish language. Soon that time will be over. I have only a few more weeks in Peru. Time to eat more picarones and use up the rest of my camera batteries.


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