Are you going on a student exchange in Lima? Lucky you, it will be the best semester of your studies! But you are not in Lima yet and at this very moment, you will be busy with the preparations for your study abroad experience in Peru. This post will help you with those preparations…
Because I had to do exactly the same a year ago when I was preparing for my exchange program at Universidad del Pacífico. Some advice will be very specific for this university, but if you go to another University in Lima (like Católica or ESAN) most tips will hopefully help you too 🙂
There are roughly 10 steps before you can sit back and enjoy your life as an international student in Lima, so let’s start!
How to student Exchange in Lima
1. Select Lima as student exchange destination
In order to go on a student exchange in Lima, your university needs to have a contract with a university in Lima, for instance, Universidad del Pacifico (UP), Catolica (PUCP) or ESAN. This means students from Peru go to your university while you are in Lima. Check at your own home university for the details on how many students can go to Peru.
My university, Erasmus University Rotterdam, for instance, allows 4 students to study in Lima per semester. In the requirements, we read you need to speak Spanish or do a language course in order to be accepted by Universidad del Pacifico. Even though I really recommend the language course, it is actually not a requirement made by UP. There is a sufficient offering of English spoken courses, so even if your Spanish does not get further than “hola” and “burrito”, you should be fine.
TIP: do the language course anyway: you learn a great deal of Spanish, can travel before the semester starts, and you already meet some people (which is great for the introduction week).
So why chose lima to study abroad? Easy, because Lima has it all: the ocean, Spanish, great music and food. If you need more convincing, make sure to read this post in which we sum up why we loved studying in Lima so much!
All you need to know about the Spanish courses at UP
Delicious Food, Latin Music, Surfing… Lima has it all!
2. Get nominated for an exchange in Lima by your home university
Once you received the amazing news that you get to study abroad in Lima, you need to be nominated by your own university at the website of Universidad del Pacífico. This pretty much means that your university confirms with UP that you are selected by them for a student exchange in Lima.
Pay attention here, because immediately after the nomination by your uni you should receive an automatic email with log-in details for you to formally apply. If you do not get this email within 2 weeks after nomination, something is wrong, and you should contact you International office as soon as possible.
3) Apply for your exchange online at the website of UP
Universidad del Pacífico has probably already sent you multiple emails by this time, but the most important one is the email with your log-in details to apply for your international exchange program. You find the form by clicking on the link in the email.
TIP: when you get the option to apply for a buddy in Lima, click yes! The Buddy team at UP entails a lot more than help with questions: they also became our best friends.
During the application process, they will also already ask you for flight tickets and accommodation. The reason they ask for these is that they are needed to apply for a visa. Don’t worry if you do not have them yet though, there is enough time: I applied for my visa at the beginning of June and flew on the 4thof July.
4) Buy your flights to Peru
This is one of the things to think of early on because you need them for your visa! Furthermore, in our year prices only increased the closer we got to departure: in May a direct flight from Amsterdam (KLM) was about €1250, an indirect terror flight (24 hours traveling on the way back) around €800. Prices are high because you fly in the summer holiday (lessons start half august) and return in the Christmas break.
TIP: When booking flight tickets, check the luggage allowances. KLM, for instance, lets you change a suitcase for a surfboard for free. Furthermore, you might want to bring a lot of souvenirs, so the cost of an extra suitcase is quite relevant.
To find your cheapest flights, you might want to use a comparison website. We specifically like google flights, because it allows you to quickly see which combination of arrival and departure date are the cheapest! Works a lot easier than Skyscanner.
TIP: If you fly via the US, make sure you do not forget to request an ESTA. A 14$ transit visa needed for stopovers.
5) Apply for a Peru student visa
Student visa or toursist visa for Peru
Firstly, do you really need a student visa or is a tourist visa enough? Well, it is indeed possible to just arrive on a tourist visa in Peru, which grants you 90 days for free. However, in this case, you do need to make an international trip in your semester, say to Bolivia, Ecuador or Chile. When you realize this too late, prices for flights can be high and the alternative (a bus trip to the border) easily takes 2-3 days. Furthermore, there is so much to see in Peru that you might not want to leave Peru. So yes, it is possible with a tourist visa, but it’s a bit riskier.
Applying for a student visa
In case you want to apply for a student visa for Peru, you need to make an appointment at a Peruvian Embassy or Consulate in your (neighboring) country. For my application, I needed to bring flight tickets to and leaving Peru, a copy of my passport, a photo and a letter of acceptance from UP. If you don’t have housing yet, just give a temporary address. Furthermore, UP warns you that there is a limited amount of days you can come early to Peru and stay late, but actually, the consulate was quite flexible with us.
The process of applying for the visa was a bit unclear and very informal. We just had to send an email to the consulate to plan a meeting, left our passports and could pick them up again one week later. UP offers to help you apply for Visas.
IMPORTANT: Make sure you get the ITR visa and NOT the ES1. The latter, which I got, is €25 instead of €20 and only gives you 90 days when you arrive even though it clearly says 180 on the visa itself. With an ITR you also get a Peruvian identity card, which gives big discounts at local airlines like Viva Air.
6) Search for student accommodation in Lima
Although not 100% necessary for your visa, you can already book accommodation while still being at home. If you want to live in student houses like Casa Yllika and Casa LIS, it is indeed smart to be early. Casa Yllika has two houses: both houses are close to UP, but therefore far from Miraflores and the coast where most (social) activities take place.
Actually, I would try to find a nice apartment with other students via the Facebook groups for housing in Lima or not book at all and remain flexible. Personally, I loved my long stay Airbnb in the middle of Miraflores, 10 min walking from the Ocean. I only paid $350 per month for 12m2, daily cleaning, etc!
TIP: With this Airbnb link, you get €25,- discount on your first booking 🙂 We get a discount too (but I promise we will use them to write new stories)
But where should you live in Lima? I recommend Miraflores because it is awesome that you can walk to your friends in 15 minutes. Furthermore, there is this amazing park along the cliffs called the Malecón that is perfect for running and sunsets. Lastly, the sea is only 5-20 minutes walking, which makes for great surfing. You do have to take the bus to school (30-40 minutes), but that is better than the other way around and I really did not mind the bus trip. It actually is the perfect moment to call your family, to practice your Spanish or do your homework.
Not yet sure? Don’t worry, we wrote an entire article on where to live in Lima during your student exchange or internship!
7) Get vaccinated for your semester abroad in Peru
Depending on your travel history, you might still need some vaccines. For Peru, my (Dutch) government advises DTP and Hepatitis A. If you go to the Amazon Jungle (and you should!! Our favorite was sailing the Amazon by cargo boat) you need a yellow fever shot and an emergency set of Malaria pills.
You get also get vaccinated when in Peru; ask your buddies for help. In case you are planning on traveling to other countries after/during your exchange, make sure to check which vaccines you need for these countries too!
8) Arrange your stuff at home
As you will studying in Peru for 4-6 months, you will have to arrange some things at home. You could, for instance, consider subletting your room and look into contracts you could cancel like phone, sporting, and public transport contracts. Furthermore, make sure someone checks your post! I missed some very important letters and almost got in trouble.
Some more practical advice that I would have liked to have had: make sure you know where your leave your important cards, keys, and sim card for when you come back and communicate well with your parents (or whoever picks you up at the airport) that they need to be brought along.
TIP: plan the location of your winter coat as well. You will leave the Lima Summer with 30 degrees and arrive in the European winter.
9) selecting and applying for your courses at UP.
UP is a private university and classrooms therefore only have 35 places maximum, even if it says LIBRE for a number of places. Therefore, popular courses do fill up super quick. The final list of courses appears rather late (end July) and registration is planned at a specific date and time. Make sure you are ready WITH A LAPTOP (please don’t try on your mobile) and a list with choices and backups because the best courses are really taken within minutes.
I ended up being excluded from registration by error and had to choose from the leftover courses. I was super happy though in the end, because I had 2 electives which I truly enjoyed. You can plan your week by the courses you chose, but you will need to select at least 12 Peruvian credits (Spanish course does not count) which is 18 ECTS (x1,5 at my uni).
TIP: Don’t worry too much about having courses almost every day of the week. You can still plan your trips in such a way that you get to travel a lot and Lima is pretty nice for the weekends too. Just choose electives that truly interest you.
TIP: take one of the Spanish courses, a two-birds-one-stone: you get ECTS in your elective part while learning a language.
10) Packing your bags for Lima and go!
When you followed the above steps, you will be well prepared for your student exchange in Lima. Now only the actual leaving is left: namely packing your bags and saying goodbye. Don’t forget you arrive in winter in Lima and thus you will need some warm clothes! A more detailed packing list for males and females will follow in June!
You will have the best time ever in Lima during your Erasmus; you just have to make some preparations. Select Lima as your exchange destination, get nominated and apply; book your flight tickets (and accommodation) and apply for a visa. Then get those vaccines, arrange your stuff at home and apply for courses at UP, pack your bags and enjoy.
I really hope this post helped you! If you have any questions, leave them below or send me an email, I would love to help. Lastly, stay tuned, we are writing a lot more about Peru in order to help you have the best time of your life during your study abroad experience in Lima. Check out our page about the lima student exchange.