A different account of life in Lima

Answers to your qestions about moving to, and living in, Peru,
Britinperu2
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A different account of life in Lima

Postby Britinperu2 » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:13 pm

Hi,

First of all my apologies for this lengthy post but to give you some background, I came to Peru from the UK to try to start a new life with a Peruvian girl here in Lima. Our story is quite complicated...we met online years ago and initially we were just friends. In time our feelings for each other grew, reaching a crescendo this year, at which point i decided to come in June for 2 weeks to see if those feelings translated into something real. They did and we got on great....we fell in love properly. After that, I returned to the UK and resolved to return again 3 months later for a longer stay. I asked my employer for a 6-month sabbatical and they kindly obliged. I did this to maintain a safety blanket in case things didn't work out. Before I left I was hopeful of securing some work with the UN through a contact I have in the UK, who recognises my expertise in a niche field of sustainable development.

Now, I have been here for 3 months and things have not turned out as expected. The initial hopes and dreams have soured somewhat for a number of reasons. I love my gf dearly but I just can't adjust to Lima. I'm jobless and frankly I see little to no opportunities to rectify this. No offence to the many English teacher expats but teaching is not my profession and frankly the pay is abysmal here. I'm led to believe that with my non-existent experience, lack of work visa, and irrevelant qualifications, I'd be lumbered with working illegally for some $500 a month. This won't even cover my rent here and debts from the UK, which amount to $650 in total. I rent a humble abode in Barranco for $350 (everything included) and I shopped around quite extensively to find the best deal I could. My debts include credit card repayments and paying off my career development loan, which I took out to do a masters 3 years ago. Basically, I'm haemorrhaging money and my savings are disappearing fast. Peru is much more expensive than I expected....some things being extortionate, such as toiletries. My job in the UK is excellent, paying some $48,000 a year and I'm feeling really reluctant to give that up when I see nothing but destitution and struggle if I stay. I would never be able to do anything here other than subsist, at least in the medium-term.....I wouldn't even be able to ever go home and visit my friends and family, who I miss a lot.

My days are spent alone, friendless, waiting for my gf to finish work....and she works a lot. I feel useless, lethargic, lonely, and stressed. I'm dreadfully frustrated by my Spanish, which just doesn't seem to improve no matter how hard I try (i even force myself to listen to 2 hours of the Spanish CNN channel everyday!). Reading and writing I understand almost everything.....and my mastery of the grammar is pretty complete. However, I just cannot decipher the words during speech and it leaves me utterly despondent because I can't communicate and express myself....and it hinders my employment prospects. I did a month of advanced classes at ICPNA but the teaching was below par to say the least. The issue is that if ppl make a real effort to speak slowly and clearly my comprehension is almost perfect, even for complex concepts.....problem is that ppl are unwilling to oblige even after repeated prompting. On the street I have no chance and my understanding is often 0%.....i find the accent so fast, garbled, and poorly articulated. I actually get wound up by Spanish....I find the sound abrasive to the ears. It's probably a bit of bitterness because I think my language skills are just weak generally...and things are improving, albeit slowly.

I haven't seen any of Peru and I really don't rate Lima at all. It's a sprawling urban wasteland with homogenous, dull buildings. Most vexing is its atrocious transport infrastructure, which is an absolute shambles, and regularly has me audibly cursing. The fabled 'kindness' of the people here is lost on me as most of the time I'm amazed by the ignorance I observe, such as zero respect in queues, the perennial disdain of anyone serving in a shop, the stupidity and rudeness of ppl in the street, and so on. Of course this is a sweeping generalisation as many ppl here are indeed very kind, such as my gf's family and her close circle of friends, who are very amiable. Other observations are that the wages are poor, working conditions are savage (especially for Peruvians -including my gf), corruption is rife, meetings and other engagements are rarely honoured, and so on.

The other thing I've fought with constantly is the cultural dissonance between my gf and I. I'm used to having total independence and never relying on anybody (I left home at 18), whilst ppl here have a very unhealty dependence on their families (at least in my opinion, though I recognise that familial cohabitation is necessitated by the atrocious salaries here). I'm really laid back in my normal life but here so much is expected of me emotionally, that I'm often left feeling utter dismay. One minute everything's great, my gf loves me more than anything, and I'm perfect....the next it's like I'm some abhorent, heartless man who never considers her feelings....even if I won't embrace something seemingly small, like dancing. I'm crucified for criticising anything here, such as the ludicrous bus system but I guess any patriotic person would be defensive when their country is being picked apart. I should probably be more economical with the truth and keep my opinions to myself wherever they highlight Peru's defects.

The crux of the matter is that there's an expectation that I should just give up on my life in the UK and effectively be willing to bankrupt myself in the name of love but I can't help but feel that people here are innately unrealistic and hopelessly optimistic about things. I'm the one that's made all the sacrifices, spent thousands of pounds and is on the verge of making a life changing decision that will prove ruinous to my finances and career aspirations and yet I'm the one that's made to feel guilty and bad for even considering my own feelings about all of it. I understand there's an understandable fear that I'll go back to Britain but I believe that my concerns are justified and warrant some empathy.

The visa situation is such in the UK that unless she studies a univeristy course, she won't be able to go, which is incredibly frustrating and upsetting....this is of course unless we're married but even then it would take ages to sort out and I have neither the time or the money for that wait (nor do i think it's responsible for us to get married when we've only been together a short time). I've offered to help with every aspect of a university/scholarship app and i would certainly help my gf financially to make it a reality, without hesitation....but to do that I need to be earning British pounds and if i don't return to my job at the end of my sabbatical I'll have nothing to go back to and no fiscal resources to speak of (negative capital in fact). In spite of promising to pursue the masters idea I do feel there is some procrastination on her part, although I understand that she fears her visa getting rejected at the end of the process (apparently it has happened to her friends already). Regrettably, I am left questioning her conviction even though she says she'll follow me anywhere (that said I know it is very difficult for Peruvians to travel to Europe, with the harsh visa restrictions we impose alongside the vast disparities in dispoable income that hinder their ability to bring such desires to fruition). I do believe that people here have problems understanding the true value of money because they are shielded from the real world somewhat by their family ties. I know it sounds like I'm painting a bad picture of my relationship and that pains me because the majority of the time everything is amazing!...she's great fun, beautiful, witty, intelligent, and generous...in effect, the girl i love.....but then there are the extreme reactions and mood swings that worry me a great deal. I think more than anything it's the pressure of our specific circumstances, coupled to very polarised cultural differences, which at times seem insurmountable.

I guess the purpose of this elaborate rant is to see if ever expats have had a hard time here. Most of the stories on here are about triumph but I really want to know that I'm not alone in feeling slightly despaired here....

Thanks for reading
Last edited by Britinperu2 on Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:45 am, edited 3 times in total.


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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby NexLevel » Sat Jan 08, 2011 2:27 am

I recently moved to Peru a little over a year ago, so I know somewhat how you feel. It took me about 3 months to even start to get accustomed to life in Lima. At first, I thought the city was dirty and dreary and I definitely doubted whether I had made the right decision. After 90 days, I had to cross the border to renew my visa so I went down to Tacna in the south of Peru to go over to Chile for a day. When I came back, I honestly felt like something had changed within me, as Lima suddenly seemed a lot better. The air and streets seemed cleaner somehow and it gave me a boost to want to keep going here in Lima.

This is not to say anything bad about Tacna as I had a great time down there. Tacna is very nice, definitely a lot cleaner and more peaceful than Lima, but its just not as big or chaotic.

I'm a little puzzled by a lot of what you write because it doesn't sound anything like the experiences I've been having. I will admit the job situation and work environment is terrible down here but I'm hoping to open my own business so I won't have to deal with that. I'm not sure why you think things are more expensive here as I'm constantly amazed at how much cheaper it is to live here than back in the states. Occasionally I will have to pay the same price for basic items that I would back home, but never more. You might want to try purchasing no name brands, rather than the same stuff you are used to back home. Food is a lot cheaper and that alone saves me an incredible amount. Maybe if you give some examples, I can direct you to cheaper alternatives.

You say you're alone and friendless, so why don't you go out and explore the city, rather than waiting for your girlfriend? I get around fine using Google maps to plan out my routes. Although I run into the occasional rudeness, people here are much more friendly than in the US and I've found the bus drivers or the people who collect money to be incredibly helpful in directing me to where I need to go. You definitely need to be more patient with the transportation system and simply accept it for what it is. Peru is a 3rd world country and its not going to be at the same level that you are accustomed to. If you stay at home all the time, I guarantee your spanish won't get any better. The only way to improve is to get out there and start talking to people. Try writing phrases down on paper that you will need. It sounds stupid, but I did this at first and it helped a lot. Ask people to speak more slowly. If they won't, then don't get offended, just go and ask someone else. The key is to be patient and have an open mind. There are also so many people who speak limited english and are eager to practice, I can't believe you haven't run into any at all.

As I said before, you might want to go around and explore a little. I agree that Barranco is very ugly and I'm not too impressed with Miraflores either, but I love some of the beautiful office buildings in the San Isidro, Surco, Surquillo area, especially on Javier Prado. Also check out La Molina as its very nice there too. The combi's are where all the action is and at least once a day I meet someone who wants to ask me about where I'm from and what its like back home. I agree that there is no concept of queues here and customer service is non existent, and there can be rude people also, but are you telling me you never experienced these sorts of things back home? There are definitely 2 classes of people here, the people who have money and the people who don't. I've experienced much more rude behavior from the people who have money, so perhaps you should interact more with the people who don't.

Don't believe a word of what you've heard as most of it is misinformation. Go out amongst the people and eat in the restaurants that regular peruvians go to. You may get some stares, but its not from hostility, its just that most foreigners are not adventurous enough to go out amongst the locals. Yes, the culture regarding family is different, but perhaps the issues with your girlfriend are not so much because she is Peruvian as much as these are typical boyfriend/girlfriend issues. My advice would be to stop being a doormat and start asserting yourself. She can either take it or leave it. You might want to try dating around as most foreigners are considered a "catch" and you might find someone who treats you more how you want to be treated.

Don't worry about the visa situation as you can spend approximately $50 every 6 months for a bus ticket to cross the border and get a new visa for 6 months. Obviously, Its not ideal but start looking into getting your carnet. You dont need to get married to do this.

If you post more specific problems, I can try to respond back with more specific advice. Good luck and I hope everything works out.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby Kelly » Sat Jan 08, 2011 3:10 am

If money is one of the biggest concerns, you may want to look into the feasibility of telecommuting work, either with your current employer or with another company. Look for positions at your country's embassy here in Lima, also.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby Suzanne » Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:21 am

Many people have difficulty in adjusting to life in a foreign country so I don't think your case is unusual. Expats are here for many different purposes, and their experiences and circumstances vary enormously, so don't think that most other people have a history of triumph in Peru... I know so many folks who have complained bitterly about Lima and then simply left. The climate, public transport system, leery men, lack of decently-paid work, interfering families and different approach to order are themes which bother a lot.

Re the language, you are trying hard and that is very commendable. There will be moments when you will have a break-through and then feel as if you make no progress for a while and so on. I agree that Spanish speakers seem to talk fast. The words do roll into each other, unlike English which can be spoken very deliberately and still not sound daft. You will get used to it. Keep practising - why don't you try and do some language exchange lessons? (intercambios) You would meet others and maybe make friends that way too, for the price of a cup of coffee.

Public transport is a perennial problem, but (sorry to sound boring) it is a lot better than it was!!! However, I suggest you avoid using it where possible. Why not use the Metropolitano and walk the rest of the way when you can? I used buses/taxis for around 9 months when I first arrived in Lima a few years ago. Actually I got to like Grupo 5 from the loud music on the bus, plus people-watching, but I do admit that mostly using the car now did improve our quality of life as I was jumping on and off buses with two young kids in tow.

Re queues, I don't find they are non existent actually. But you do have to clearly establish who you are behind in order to know when it is your turn. You must be the one to be assertive as in Peru there is not such a shared understanding of an established sense of order and 'the way things are done' as in the UK. If someone does butt in, you must just say, it is my turn next (me toca a mi). When I first arrived here I had frequent rows and walked out of places when not served in what I thought was a fair order :oops: If you state your case, it is highly likely you will be attended to correctly, as (whether is appears that way or not) most people here do know when it is there turn.

Re work, you need money to live and in light of the debts you have, I am sure many would simply suggest you go back to your job in the UK before you lose it. You can think about your options at a distance, even apply for well-paid jobs in Peru or look into internet-based work as Kelly suggested.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby lyates » Sat Jan 08, 2011 10:41 am

I find it hilarious that you were writing this last night, sitting alone in Lima, at that exact same time I was sitting alone in Lima writing a journal entry about the same thing. Reading this actually makes ME feel like I’m not the only one feeling this way, so I guess then you aren't either.

I’m in a similar situation, in that I moved here for a significant other, who has a job and a life here, while I don’t. And I feel a lot of the time like I’m just sitting around being worthless, waiting for him to have time for me. It sounds really pathetic, but in a new country where you don’t know the language (Spanish is very difficult for me as well, especially if they don’t speak with a gringo accent), it is a lot more difficult to go out there and find people and be assertive. And, I don’t particularly enjoy wandering around places by myself, or feel comfortable starting a random conversation with someone… which are options a lot of people suggest.

I’m lucky in that I found a job I’m excited about, and I know that will change things. However, the pay is horrible compared to what I’d get in the US, and I've also found that basic toiletry items are more expensive here than they are at home. I’m not exactly saving a lot of money by being here. What makes it worth it for me is I was with my boyfriend for awhile before this move and we’ve talked about where we’ll live after Peru, so that helps let me enjoy the present for what it is. Plus, I love Latin America and traveling, and Lima is a good place to access the rest of South America.

The only thing I’d disagree with you on is the Peruvian people. I’ve found in general the people here are very friendly and helpful.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby tomsax » Sat Jan 08, 2011 12:36 pm

Britinperu (from a fellow Brit who was in Peru)

I think there are a many of positives in your situation as well as negatives.

You have intelligently not burnt all your bridges and can go back to the UK, to a job, after six months.
Your gf sounds like she is in love with you and not with a ticket to a new life outside Peru.
She is smart and educated enough to possibly get onto a masters course.
She has a job and I'm guessing from her long hrs that she is a "profesional" (as they say in Spanish).

A lot of what you say will sound familiar to a lot of us who know Peru. A lot of us have had to make sacrifices to live in Peru to live with our Peruvian loved ones and are not entirely happy about everything of course. But one thing I would say is that if you don't value living in Peru as a positive experience at all then that is bound to put a lot of pressure on your relationship. She may be pleased on one level that you could make such a big sacrifice just for her but if she really thought about it (or knew exactly what you are thinking and how much you value and would miss what you would be giving up) she may well realise it wouldn't be healthy or good for your relationship. I myself always found Peru interesting and fascinating, and living there a rich learning experience, even when I found living there infuriating, so there was never such a pressure on my girlfriend (now my wife) to make up it all worthwhile.

It's difficult to judge from one post but going from your account of your experience so far in Peru my advice would be to go back to your old job and try and find ways of getting her over there, even if its only on short visits. It used to be possible for young educated Peruvians with jobs to do short English course in the UK. I know they are making it more difficult but would be surprised if its not possible still. If you work in sustainable development wouldn't that be abroad somewhere? Maybe she could visit you wherever you are, especially if you were earning a UN salary or such like.

If you do decide to try making a go of it in Peru you could try to find a local NGO that works in sustainable development. You could help them write a good proposal for funding and make sure you are written into the budget on a reasonable wage such that if they get funding you can stay in Peru to support the project. That would give you plenty to do while you wait for your gf to come home.

The issues that you mention on your relationship are par for the course with Latin girls. She may seem unindependant to you but from my experience of modern Peruvian career girls this is quite the norm. Only you can decide if the cultural differences are too much for you.

My last piece of advice is to not spend the whole six months in Lima. Try to see some of the far more beautiful parts of Peru before you go back. Prices are cheaper out of Lima. Ideally go with your gf if she can get the time off but if not just take some week long trips without her. It would be a terrible waste of a visit to Peru to not visit anywhere else but Lima. And it might make you more positive about the country your gf comes from which has to be a good thing for her as well.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby luzaranza » Sat Jan 08, 2011 12:57 pm

Interesting post. I find myself suffering the blues a little after being here 3 months. It's my fourth time here in Peru. I came this time to get to know someone I've been corresponding with for 3 years, and now that we're at the 3 month stage we're getting to know all the little crazy and neurotic things that differentiate the 2 cultures. The thing that has hit me most this time is the 'desconfianza' that the people hold not just for the foreign nationals such as ourselves but for each other. I'm seeing the mood swings, the results of comments working on her from her overbearing mother that relationships with extranjeros always end in failure. This for me makes me feel very sad for her since she is constantly placed under asfixiating parental pressure and each time she comes to visit me at my flat I have to spend the first hour re-building the faith and esteem and confidence that 2 days of fighting with her mother have taken out of her. Deep down I love her to bits but I am also realistic, I am finding living her quite nice since I have been able to get a depa through a friend at a very reasonable rate in San Isidro and have some work teaching English through placing an ad in el comercio, now I am looking at getting the carnet extranjeria so that I can start to feel that I really exist here. Yes, I too find myself passing many solitary hours in my flat but I am now starting to plan the next stages in order to gain more stable employment and establish a foothold here. My knowledge of Spanish is ok and I'm now finding it each day a little bit easier to deal with the 'jerga' o jargon, speaking really helps and the secret really is to keep practising the language and be persistent and keep on trying things.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby tupacperu » Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:56 pm

Kelly wrote:If money is one of the biggest concerns, you may want to look into the feasibility of telecommuting work, either with your current employer or with another company. Look for positions at your country's embassy here in Lima, also.


Kelly, exactly!
I telecommuted for 7 years loved living in Peru. Essentially I am a beach person and lived in the North Chiclayo and maintained an apartment in Lima. Money/income is an issue when living in Peru, not only between a couple but also in the Peruvian family, especially if you are a foreigner. My Wife's family call her the millionaire and we got plenty request for money (not loans).

There is a certain amount of culture shock when adjusting to Peru, it takes time.
You are in a tough place and I feel for you. (IMHO) I personally would not take the gamble of losing a job over living practically destitute in Peru. Love will not pay the bills - coming from a 2 time divorce man. Things change and you would not want to put yourself in a position of disadvantage. Been married now 7 years (peruvian) and many of my friends who were married via internet dating have plenty of horror stories of divorce (many the first year or 2 into a marriage).

Telecommuting jobs pay decent but will not match your previous salary. I was lucky, I worked on offshore accounts for IT ($100K per year). This eased the adjustment of living in Peru. I could afford expensive imported products which I was accustomed to, and I also would travel to Miami periodically to stock up on items that were not available in Peru. Essentially, money will always be the issue when you are an expat and decide to live in a country like Peru.

Got laid-off 3/31/2010
We are back in the USA (Phoenix, AZ) and our decision now is to keep the home in Peru as a vacation rental, after now seeing the price in Lima, we can live better in Phoenix (2500 sq ft home for $120K - apartment cost that in Miraflores).
We are now in Plan B and plan to live in the USA and vacaton in Peru. Peru is as you say, many Metropolitan area in the USA are the same, especially if you had the ghetto experience.

Hopefully you can make a decision that will benefit you and you mate. But some decision are tough ones and I for one do know that relationships and marriages fail, then starts the blame game (I sacrificed such and such etc................). Tread carefully my man, takes a life time to aquire a career and a moment to destroy it. Same goes for a marriage. Do what is best for you and your future.

MHO

Tim
Last edited by tupacperu on Sat Jan 08, 2011 2:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby Kelly » Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:59 pm

luzaranza wrote:I'm seeing the mood swings, the results of comments working on her from her overbearing mother that relationships with extranjeros always end in failure.


While I think that cross-cultural relationships certainly can be more difficult with many challenges, take this with a grain of salt. There are many of us on this forum who are in successful long term relationships. I've been with my husband for nearly 9 years now, and we're stronger than ever. My neighbor is American and has been living here with her Peruvian husband for over 25 years. It is possible to overcome the cultural differences, it just takes patience from BOTH sides. This article has helpful hints - Intercultural relationships.
Best of luck.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby sunflower » Sat Jan 08, 2011 2:19 pm

I really had to smile when I read your post. Everything sounded so familiar. When I came here over 4 years ago, I felt quite similar. I had a really hard time adapted and adjusting to Lima, its people, the ways things are done here, ......

Personally I think no-one than yourself can decide for you what way is the best. So before you do anything else, ask yourself where you really want to live. Even if it sounds silly, take a piece of paper and write down the pros and cons of your living in the UK and in Lima. No matter if you decide your future is in the UK or in Lima, you have to live with the consequences. Both have their good and their bad sides. When you are sure you want to live in the UK or Lima, then you have to work on yourself to overcome the bad stuff.

As I said before, many of your words sound very familiar to me. I felt exactly the same: waiting for nothing, alone, sometimes depressed, feeling worthless, .... For most people Lima isn't a welcoming place and to be honest no-one waits for you. You have to get active yourself. If you want to live and make a living here, you have to work hard. Even if money is tight, get out, discover the city and the people. They might seem unfriendly at the first sight, but if you look behind things they change. To overcome my "Lima hatred" I started one day hopping onto a micro and just drove around, learned a lot about Lima and the people. I went to all districts, tried to get in contact with people. Be open and people here will open up as well. I had some very bad and some very good experiences. This way I started to learn to love this crazy town, but as many here on the forum know, I'm still very critical. Anyhow I found my place here in Lima, my little niche and can say that I'm quite happy here.

Anyhow if you decide to live in Lima, keep in mind that a stony way is waiting for you. But if you really want it you will find a way to make it happen. Most times plan A and B won't work, so better have a plan C or even D in mind. Finding a well paid job is one of the obstacles. As mentioned by others, try to find a way to work for an international company, NGO or organization. They pay well, working hours are like back home, .... If you are not able to find work with them, then forget about your European standards. Long hours for a few bucks are normal and there are a lot of well educated people in Lima working for a lot less than you are used to.

Having said this, if you want to be happy in Lima, you have to change at least a little bit without forgetting who you are. You have to be active and approach people. For me it was difficult, but in the end worth the effort. And even if sometimes life is tough and unfair here, right now the sun is shining, so smile back and enjoy what Lima has to offer. Personally I think much more than Europe. But probably Lima just isn't the place for you. Then it might be better to return to the UK and find a way to get your girlfriend there.

Good luck on whatever way you might go!
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby yoenlima » Sat Jan 08, 2011 4:56 pm

Don't feel bad. I was born in Lima, lived here 20 years of my life then moved to the states for 20 and some years and came back with my family, and I AM STILL ADJUSTING! My 15 year old is having the hardest time. But as I will tell him: We are going to stay here for two more years (since this is our plan) so try to make the best of it.

As some people have said already you need to establish your priorities. To gamble with your life for a relationship that may or may not work is up to you. But if I was you, I would sit down, write down what's most important for me right now and in the future and take if from there. Living in the UK and living in Lima has its pros and cons. I tell my son constantly that he should be grateful for getting to see a life that is so different to the life we had in the US. If anything, you'll come back to the UK with a new found appreciation for what you have. Lima is not so bad either. There are many opportunities to use your abilities and knowledge to improve the life of less fortunate people. My son has participated in the program un Techo para Todos, in which he helped build houses for less fortunate families. You could teach english to a less fortunate kid. Volunteerism is a good way to relief some of the frustrations of your day to day. Get together with other expats. You'll make some friends. Try new dishes, learn to cook them, you'll impress your friends when you come back if you decide that. The situation with your girlfriend (attention struggles), is not exclusive of mixed culture relationships, trust me. Living with another person alone takes some adjusting. When you get bored, go out. Go to a mall, to one of the parks in Lima and go for a walk. There are some very interesting museums to visit. But in order for you to decide what to do, you'll have to establish your priorities, that's the first step. Good luck to you. Come back to this forum if you have questions. There are some very well intentioned people here willing to help.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby Saramira222 » Sat Jan 08, 2011 5:49 pm

My two cents...born in Lima raised in US, a few years in Puerto Rico (very different culturally than Peru), and have spent a total of less than two years back in Peru, with a recent five month trip to USA. I relate to a lot of what Britinperu and others say, but I am not here because of a relationship, so ultimately, if I decide to leave, that is not part of the equation.

Even though I spent much vacation time here throughout the years with my Peruvian family, and even though I have moved many times in my life, I have found this to be an incredibly hard adjustment, and yesterday was nearly driven to distraction with frustration (lack of care for pedestrians, different cultural concepts of physical boundaries, lack of punctuality, etc.). I agree with Tupac and others that income is paramount and very few relationships can take the strain of severe financial duress, whether intercultural or not, and I speak from experience on this count.

Even though it is not necessarily part of the mainstream culture to seek out couples counseling (and is perhaps unaffordable), I think an objective view might be in order, as the gf's family is bound to see it all her way. My experience with my own Peruvian family is that in all of our divorces, the other party is seen as the villain or somehow defective, and the family member, of course, is the one who is in the right.

I have always found the pros and cons listmaking to be helpful in all life decisions, but I think that in this case, it is not just where do I want to live, but also what are the pros and cons of this relationship. Perhaps it can be a lifelong thing, perhaps not. No one can answer that. I wish you the best.

I struggle a lot with the adaptation process and my sense of humor has gone a bit south, something I look forward to getting back. And that is another thing. Although Peruvians can have a great sense of humor, it is quite different and I have yet to find anyone here who gets my sense of the absurd. There is a huge habit here of calling anything or anyone out of the ordinary "loco" a blanket term.

I wish you the best in making a very difficult decision and that whatever way it goes, you can learn something valuable from it.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby Kelly » Sat Jan 08, 2011 7:37 pm

And that is another thing. Although Peruvians can have a great sense of humor, it is quite different and I have yet to find anyone here who gets my sense of the absurd.


After nearly 7 years in Lima, this has proven to be the hardest thing for me to adjust to! I find that half the time I just don't say anything anymore, as my darker sense of humor just isn't "got" at all - while most Peruvian comedy seems a bit juvenile to me. My husband and kids say that you have to "think too much" with US humor.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby sanbartoloian » Sat Jan 08, 2011 7:51 pm

Bi-continental... I live in the US from mid-April until late October or early November and then I live in San Bartolo the rest of the year. I have a house and car in both places and I feel like one the the luckiest people I know. I have a good retirement income that allows me to enjoy my situation. My Spanish is always suspect and I have tons of tutors in San Bartolo who help me struggle with my communication skills. I find most people appreciate my efforts.

I have a hard time adjusting too both places. I love coming and hate leaving. I think if I had to choose just one that I would be San Bartolo the rest of my life. I am blessed now with not having to make that choice. This year my arrival will be late. Continental Airline had a pet and human remain embargo until Jan 15 so I had to wait to bring my dog. Next year I will leave earlier and not have that problem.

My friends in Peru are some of the best I have ever had and the are honestly family to me. I love them dearly. My many aquaintances that I have been bless to meet have been cordial and friendly and offer an open affection and hospitality.

My hardest adjustment is when I sit on the terrace and watch the sun setting on the ocean and I have to pinch myself just to be sure that I am not dreaming.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby anuta » Sun Jan 09, 2011 1:17 am

Edit
Last edited by anuta on Mon Jan 17, 2011 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby goingnowherefast » Sun Jan 09, 2011 10:10 am

I hear you buddy, Lima is a rough place. A lot of people here are living hand to mouth compared to what we are used to in the West. And it makes you feel really good that you can't walk 10 yards without someone asking for money, a child beggar, or someone walking uncomfortably close to you.

I am a native English speaker like yourself, and Spanish takes a while to learn man. I've spoken it everyday for 2 years now, and I can have conversations and spend entire days speaking Spanish, but I would still say it is intermediate. You have to remember when most people speak a language, it is because they have heard it all of their lives. Just relax and don't pressure yourself to pick it up.

I agree with you here, Lima is a giant toilet, and no offense to the Limenos here, but the people are ultra rude, and frankly stupid. I work here in Lima, and have lived in Colombia for years, and Lima makes Medellin, and even Cali look like the modern world. What I have noticed in particular here - is that for whatever reason people from Lima are VERY CLOSED to foreigners. The mentality of the people here is just... disgusting. From what I have learned it is best to maintain distance from them.

Funny you say all this stuff about your girlfriend, I am in the same boat. Women are women man, English, Peruvian, whatever. Don't believe what she says about following you around, every Peruvian would love to live in UK, USA, etc but when it actually comes time to buy the tickets, say goodbyes, it's a completely different story then suddenly life isn't so bad here.

If you want to live in South America, I recommend you check out Colombia. The people are a million times nicer, it has a better energy, the cost of living is MUUUCH cheaper than Lima, the weather is better, well, just check it out : )
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby euroman » Sun Jan 09, 2011 3:59 pm

I think Britinperu2 has to think more positive and start enjoying life.

People in Peru are very friendly and professional. People are very laid back and it`s easy to make friends.
Wherever you go you get an excellent service.

What I do to fill my days? I go for a drive with my motorbike, I go swimming at the waterfalls or lagunas. Explore the mountains. I go visiting villages where the native people live. The amazon forest is beautiful up here.
I go boating on the river or drive to Yurimaguas and go on the 3 days cruise to Iquitos.

Sometimes I drive to the Coast. The pacific ocean is beautiful. White sand beaches full of waving palmtrees.

Peru has nice weather between 27 and 39 degrees all year round.

I have a BBQ in my garden. I look after my pineapples, coconutpalmtrees and exotic plants in my garden.

PERU IS PARADISE ON EARTH.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby Kelly » Sun Jan 09, 2011 4:28 pm

That's all awesome for you, euroman, but again, you seem to have missed the point. The original post refers to living in Lima, in particular. Since his girlfriend has a job in the city, that's where he's living, and last time i checked, there weren't a whole lot of available waterfalls to go swimming in near here.

Although it is a nice time to go hang out on the beach - maybe learn to surf?
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby Nate » Sun Jan 09, 2011 5:29 pm

Chin up sunshine, you're still breathing :)
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby oneMore » Sun Jan 09, 2011 5:56 pm

I was in your shoes not too long ago...minus the girlfriend issue. After months of frustration, I had to sit down and ask myself what I was doing. I came to the conclusion that Peru was not for me. No matter how much I tried to sugar-coat it...it just wasn't working. The thing that got me the most was that as an educated professional, I would be lucky to see $1500 a month...far cry from my previous income. On top of that, the amount of hours you need to work. I asked myself how I could afford to live and also save for my future.

You have to ask yourself if Peru is for you. If you don't like it now, what do you think will make it change. During my time there, the only thing that changed was me. I became numb and introvert to my surroundings.

Consider yourself lucky, you have a job to go back to. If I had to do it back over, I would of search hard and long for a position to take me there. As many of you will agree, having a job and good income can play a major factor in the adaptation process.

Don't get locked into that all or nothing mind set, you do have options so keep an open mind. Your relationship is still new. Go back home and start researching for positions that will take you there. At the same time save your money and make trips back to peru to see your sweety. Its funny what love makes you do.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby Ron » Sun Jan 09, 2011 11:34 pm

britinperu2,

Are you joking? You came to Lima with no job, limited money and no idea how to speak the language. What did you think life was going to be like? Think about this in reverse. If a Peruvian came to the UK with no job, money or english skills, what would their life be like? Exactly the same as yours is now.

You say that your spanish does not improve no matter how hard you try, but you admit that you never go out and only watch two hours of TV in spanish a day. Speaking and understanding a new language is basically a physical skill, it must be practiced constantly. If you want to be a good footballer would you practice and play daily or would you watch 2 hours of video?

You say you have a hard time understanding the spanish that is spoken to you. As I just mentioned, it takes time to learn and comprehend. Get outside and do something other than sitting around the apartment. Just think of someone learning english and having to decode the various kinds of english (english, scottish, irish, indian, australian, US, canadian etc and all the regional dialects that are abundant for each pf them). It is very hard and perplexing. How many local London or UK accents can you pick out just by hearing them? You got that through experience, not a one month class. The same goes for spanish.

You don't like the transportation system? Take a taxi. They will take you exactly where you want to go. If you can't afford to take taxis, then LEARN how the combi system works. To do that just do what you would do in the UK, ask someone! Hint, this will also aid in your spanish speaking and comprehension.

As for your personal life with your girl. That's for you to work out yourselves.

All the other little things that seem to bother you, Peru is a different country with different rules, customs and norms. It is not the UK, USA or Canada, and it never will be. Is it hard to get used to Lima? Of course it is! Does it take time to figure things out? Of course it does! Can you do it in 6 months? No. It is an absolute certainty that you won't get to know Lima or Peru if you don't go out and try and stop whining about things you cannot change or are different than you are used to. You may find that Lima is not your "cup of tea" and that is fine. It's not for everyone. Not everyone loves living in the UK, USA or Canada. So if your girl does go to the UK with you, don't be surprised if she is unhappy and homesick for all the same reasons that you have stated.

Best of luck.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby rama0929 » Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:18 am

anuta wrote:While the previous advice about adjusting to the life in Lima is great, I would first think about your relationship. You've only been together in real life for 3 months and you already seem to see red flags with this girl (mood swings, you are made to feel bad, she doesn't care about your situation, etc. ). Those are not cultural differences, if they bother you, they are incompatibilities. And is there a reason why this would get better after a while ?


They may not be deal breakers, but they may be misunderstandings. My gf has her moods sometimes, and on occasion she has sent me on a guilt trip (I think she's been hanging out with my Mom too much :lol: ), and it may not be that she doesn't care about his situation just the possibility that she cannot relate. I've had that happen as well. My gf would love me to drop everything and move there, but once I actually sat her down and explained the situation as it is, she changed her tune.

I think with better communication, the OP would be a little better off. If he would like, I can present him to some friends I've made while in Peru. At the very least, he'll have someone to hang out with.

I spent a month in Lima last year, and it was easier than I thought it would be. What will go a long way in enjoying the area is not comparing it to home. There are some advantages, there are some disadvantages to living in Lima. Same thing with our home country; there are some advantages, there are some disadvantages.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby Comet » Mon Jan 10, 2011 9:15 am

rama0929 wrote:
anuta wrote:While the previous advice about adjusting to the life in Lima is great, I would first think about your relationship. You've only been together in real life for 3 months and you already seem to see red flags with this girl (mood swings, you are made to feel bad, she doesn't care about your situation, etc. ). Those are not cultural differences, if they bother you, they are incompatibilities. And is there a reason why this would get better after a while ?


They may not be deal breakers, but they may be misunderstandings. My gf has her moods sometimes, and on occasion she has sent me on a guilt trip (I think she's been hanging out with my Mom too much :lol: ), and it may not be that she doesn't care about his situation just the possibility that she cannot relate. I've had that happen as well. My gf would love me to drop everything and move there, but once I actually sat her down and explained the situation as it is, she changed her tune.

I think with better communication, the OP would be a little better off. If he would like, I can present him to some friends I've made while in Peru. At the very least, he'll have someone to hang out with.

I spent a month in Lima last year, and it was easier than I thought it would be. What will go a long way in enjoying the area is not comparing it to home. There are some advantages, there are some disadvantages to living in Lima. Same thing with our home country; there are some advantages, there are some disadvantages.



I agree with a lot you have said...I´ve been here almost 4 years and it took me a full year to get used to everything and 2 years to get a grip on the language.....listening is always the hardest skill to get the hang of and there is no substitute for practise....another thing...it appears that there are a lot of people in more or less similiar situations...get together sometimes..it never seems as bad when you know there are others in the same position.. Come and see my band playing on 3rd Feb,,,see my announcement for details...there are quite a few expats coming and it will be a great atmosphere.....sorry for the shameless advertising, but really I don´t know any of you either and it will be a good night for everyone.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby euroman » Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:16 pm

A way to integrate is socialising with local people. It´s easy to make friends in Peru.

Or getting a job is a good way to integrate. Many warehouses, restaurants and shops need help.
Pay in Lima is normal around 550 soles a month gross. You can rent a room for 200 soles a month. So, you live good and don´t have to be bored all day.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby Buckey » Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:40 pm

Well everyone has given you everything from empathy to tough love to ridicule so doubt I'll make much difference. Just appears to me you have 2 choices, stay in Peru and live with the consequences, or return to the U.K. and live with the consequences. Considering Lima's climate I don't think England would be such a huge change for her. If she loves you she'll come to there and eventually marry you. With your better finances you can travel to Peru often enough to see family. Tell her you can work towards early retirement and return to Peru with better finances. If that's not enough motivation to move back with you then I think you better give some real consideration to whether this girl is the one. Just my 2 cents!
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby Alpineprince » Mon Jan 10, 2011 5:56 pm

Buckey wrote: Considering Lima's climate I don't think England would be such a huge change for her.

I wish someone had told me that before I moved to Peru! :roll:
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby seb2010 » Tue Jan 11, 2011 11:10 am

Britinperu2 - I think Anuta has a great point. For those of us who come here out of love, the most important part of life here is having an understanding partner. January 2 was my 3 year anniversay of my arrival here. I cannot tell you how many times I've had complete breakdowns....sobbing crying...semi hysterics....all in front of my then boyfriend, now husband. It was so hard for him to listen to me critizice, complain...about everything! He definitely just didn't lay down and take it 100% of the time, but he understood that I needed to vent and he needed to understand where I was coming from. For the record, 3 years on, I'm still complaining, although not nearly as often and definitely not with tears. It's what I need in order to survive here and my husband listens and he understands. (And I was seeing a threapist for a year to help cope.)

I do agree with you 100% that Lima is expensive. I wanted to live like I was living before moving here and I've found it to be more expensive in many ways than the US. Owning a house/apartment in a nice area, driving a nice car, going out for dinner, wearing nice clothes, all of these things are incredibly expensive here. We have to make ourselves happy first...whatever makes you happy is what you need to seek out, and your partner should be understanding of that, otherwise you're just not compatable as Anuta says.

And the Spanish! 3 years on and I'm still not fluent...more out of choice. I took lessons for my first 6 months, then stopped. I hated it. I felt like I had given up so much of myself already to move here that I decided that I wasnt going to push myself and I wanted to take things at my own pace. Now, I can communicate anything, but not perfectly, and who cares!? The important thing is to be understood.

Good luck to you. I share many of your feelings about Lima...it's a mess! But, I've found some great things too. Definitely visit other parts of the country, Cusco, Arequipa, Iquitos, Mancora, Colca Valley...Peru as a country is increible! I hope things work out for you as they're supposed to. Do what's best for you and everything else will fall into place. Suerte!
Last edited by seb2010 on Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby tupacperu » Tue Jan 11, 2011 4:47 pm

I guess it does take money to be happy. Many have the thought of escaping to a place where money does not matter and living a simple life. But soon find out no matter where you live you will need money to lead a quality life (except for Euroman, I envy you EuroMan, you are my hero, really)This is the fisrt time on expatperu.com where I have heard outright criticism of Peru(alot). It is good thing for all those who would consider moving to Peru. They have expressed the disadvantages, and many newbies are getting it first hand.

Maybe it is because I have lived an economically challenged youth, most things in Peru do not bother me. I have lived in Pueblo Libre, Magdelena and Mirflores. Walked the barrios (La Victoria, SJL), and I am at home. As for relationship. I have a fantastic wife (from the provinces), we have been married 7 years and going on 8 years that we met. In Peru I worked from home, so 24/7 we were together, and we had our share of disagreement but I found I loved being around her, and if I could be with her 24/7 and survive, I was off to a great marriage.

Many travel to a foreign country looking for love and relationships, I agree with Anut, when you have a compatibility issue that will kill a relationship. As for me, I am a little on the macho side, so I looked for a woman who was a homemaker and enjoyed home life. I swore off of professional women, even in foreign countries because there was always a struggle as to who would do the driving (no offense professional women, just my preference). I have been twice divorce in the USA (both professional women), relationships were a struggle. My life now is simple and predictible. I live my life in my home, it is my man-cave, we go out to dinner and lessons for my son (swimming, piano, dance). But we live life at home. With technology (internet ) I find that there is not much need to get out of the home except for food.

But There is a downside with meeting a woman in the provinces (specifically homemaker), many times the families are financially challenged and you find your self becoming the family bank (ATM). It was something I struggled with with my wife, until I handed her the bills and she watch the money flow out. Now I am the softy, and when there is a request for money, I want to help, but my wife vetos that decision.

There are positives and negative to every relationship, you just need to find the closes fit for you.

As, for speaking spanish, you have to love a language to speak it. I loved spanish since moving to LA in 1986, took years of spanish but could never speak it. Finally I met my wife (2003) and things came together. Things change in a foreign country when you speak the language. I roam the streets of Peru, to the bakery, Bodegas and taxis, where I meet and greet Peruvians, I have not had a bad experince, as a matter of fact I am a comedian and I say funny things in Spanish that breaks the ice. I guess I am a person who walk into a room and helps to light it up (whether funny or contraversial).

As I mentioned, you will need money to live in Peru and you wil need money for a happy marriage. Financial problems are the NO#1 reason for divorce. But from your post does not look like you are moving toward marriage (marriage visa is an option).

So, do what your heart tells you, but coming from a guy who is on his 3rd time up to bat, look pass the passion and find a person who is about you and your happiness and you can be about hers.

My wife says to me "Doesnt matter where we live, I just want my family together". Now we travel between the 2 countries and We have had an opportunity to live in both. In my heart I want to live in Peru the rest of my life, but for financial reason and praticality we are in the USA, but happy.'We are in the process of buying our dream home in Phoenix, AZ (a lot cheaper than Lima because of the housing crisis).

Hope that you and your mate find common ground, I hate to see relationships go the way of break up.

Good luck
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby Polaron » Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:52 am

My first time living in Latin America was in 1978, when I went to Mexico on vacation and decided to stay there (in Guadalajara). I had to essentially give up my year of university in the U.S.A. and start all over in Guadalajara, while working for low wages as an illegal English teacher. I did not speak Spanish fluently when I arrived in Mexico, though I had taken the four-year high-school Spanish course (in 3 years) and could express myself. Vocabulary and aural comprehension were my downfall, but I was determined, I loved the language and I avoided all contact with native English-speakers outside of work. This forced me to develop my Spanish skills.

It took me a while to adjust to life in Latin America, perhaps a year. In 1982, when I finished up university (except for a course or two which I was able to take via correspondence from my Mexican university), at age 22 I went back to the U.S. and got a job with the phone company to put away some money for my return to Mexico.

Once I got my titulo I petitioned the SEP (Secretaría de Educación Pública) in Mexico to grant me the title of "licenciado" (they typically give only the title of egresado to foreigners), so I would be able to earn more as a teacher. That was fine for a while, but I am not really crazy about teaching. Still, it paid the bills, allowing me to live in a land I loved instead of under the scrutiny of Ronnie Raygun and his ilk.

The whole point is that I made a choice to make some serious sacrifices in order to live where I wished to live, realizing that I could not evaluate Latin America by using gringo standards. It's a totally different world. To the thread parent, I ask this: Do you really want to go back to that chilly island with its two-week-long summer and dreadfully cold weather the rest of the time? Do you want to return to living in a society where a person's worth is judged by the size of his bank account and the timbre of his accent (and this is especially true if you're from a place like Stepney)? Or would you rather live here with the person you love and eschew the first-world lifestyle in favor of more human values?

I've been to the U.K. and it's a great place, but I'd rather live in Perú myself. Don't give up hope, my friend. Give it some more time and redouble your efforts. You might be glad you did.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby goingnowherefast » Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:56 am

I guess sometimes you just have to rough it, but I feel your pain. Here are a few things that once I understood made my life a little easier here (but if it weren't for work I wouldn't be here).

- The people from Lima are very rude and very closed to foreigners.

- You have to be over aggressive here, it's how things work. Here in Lima, kindness is weakness. The only emotions these people understand are fear and greed - you have to act accordingly.

- Foreigners don't like Lima. 9/10 foreigners you talk to will tell you they don't like it, so don't feel bad about it.

- Many landlords won't rent apartments to Peruvians, many gyms will highly scrutinize which Peruvians they allow, nightclubs will be very selective on the Peruvians they allow, etc. Peruvians denying their own should speak loudly and help you understand the mentality.

- The average annual income for people living in Lima is very low, even compared to other major cities in Latin America, it's poor, they will try to take your money every chance they get, don't give money to anyone unless you are really damn sure you want to.

- Chances are if you're making friends here it is with the better off Peruvians, the rich ones. It's good to make friends, but due to the class divide here, the rich ones can be very... different, very 'entitled'. I know "rich" here is middle-upper class back home, but they don't know that.

- Be really careful about giving girlfriend's family money. If you do it one time they are going to expect it, like a leech, then if you miss one 'payment' that would be akin to not paying your bookie back home.

Maybe it sounds excessive, but I have my own 'security net' for living here. I work, spend time with the girlfriend, do some sports, and that's it. Find your rhythm, take up a hobby, get a routine. The good thing about Lima is that it is a big city, you can find other people interested in whatever you want. Whatever your hobby may be, I promise you there is a group, or a store somewhere to accommodate that. I also recommend hanging around other foreigners. There is a gym in Miraflores on Ricardo Palma by Parque Tradicciones with several foreigners that go everyday, real nice guys. You'll find a lot of backpackers in Lima but they leave like 1 or 2 days later. There is a group called 'Couchsurfing' that meets a lot, it is SUPPOSED to be foreigners but it's filled with Peruvian guys looking for European and American girls, and you might find 1 or 2 foreigners, so stay away from that. What else... Gold's Gyms are basically social clubs with exercise equipment, be sure to wear some cologne, you'll find 10 million gold digging ladies. My advice man, just get out there, get some experiences under your belt. Yeah, the people here are jerks on the surface, but people are people, human nature is human nature, Peru, USA, UK, whatever. There are good ones and bad ones.

Oh yeah, I have to say it. Do yourself a favor and stay away from combis (I saw someone mention it). Don't know about you, but I am not a patient person, and on the combis, you need A LOT of patience, because if not the general probability of bad things happening is pretty high.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby Comet » Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:15 am

PLease read the postings on "Group for new arrivals etc"
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby Lloyd007 » Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:08 pm

I agree with a lot of things on these posts - Lima is expensive, pay poor and local people you make friends with or family of girlfriend will at some point or another ask for money which is particularly uncomfortable, but part of life here (and they have no shame in asking, either). Expect it to be regular, unless you lay down the law from the beginning. Be careful, they'll take you for every penny if they're given the chance.
One thing I learned over the years is that people are not as poor as they make out. They often have a reasonable house (even though they claim to be poor), have travelled around Peru or have lived/vacationed in the USA or Europe, or have a family member (son, daughter, cousin, whatever) there doing well for themselves even though the parents here may earn minimum wage. They survive and always will, and they do OK, so be wary of requests for money to help out, as cited in other posts here.
I do not think people are rude at all (apart from queue skipping!). I've met some of the nicest people here and have formed very good friendships.
I think that the combi's are great fun. Cheap, very regular, often fast and nippy and with some kind of Latino Salsa/Cumbia or 80's English music playing. Enjoy them, make the most of them, use them to get to know the city. Just get a couple a day and head to Barranco, Surco or downtown. Explore. Take each day as a new adventure, something to look forward to and see something new. Maybe a friend of the girlfriend can show you around?
It does take time to adjust, but in my opinion life here is far much better, fuller and more meaningful than life in the UK. Making good friends takes time, sure, but give it a go. Take a chance. Put your heart in to it or one day you might look back and think, ''if only i'd stayed a bit longer...'' or, ''if only i'd....''
I think Lima is great - hussle and bussle, lots to do and see, great ocean front location, beautiful parks, great history, good opportunities as a foreigner for work and meeting people isn't so hard... and travel is often cheap too.
That's what I think. Hope you make the right decision! Good luck with whatever you decide.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby tomsax » Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:47 pm

Britinperu,

After all of us taking on the role of Senor Corazon and/or Mr Worldlywise (myself included), I hope you submit a follow up post to tell us how things are panning out. Your first post was articulate and thought provoking which is what brought on all the replies I think. We want more!
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby euroman » Wed Jan 12, 2011 7:00 pm

Lima expensive?

You can also live economically in Lima.

A room can be rented for 200 soles a month. Shop at the markets and cook at home.
Buy clothes at Gamarra.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby Britinperu2 » Wed Jan 12, 2011 7:08 pm

Hello everyone,

I'd like to thank those that took the time to reply to my thread...the interest surprised me greatly. I actually already replied once but for some reason that post never appeared on the forum. I can't remember exactly what I said but I will attempt to recount it to the best of my ability. A lot of the comments are both sagacious and fair....for instance, I will be sure to contact the British Embassy here in Lima to enquire about possible job opportunities or potential avenues for further investigation. Also, I take heed of the advice that encouraged me to think very carefully about my options before making a definite decision regarding my future here. I was also touched by the genuine concern for my wellbeing here, which was evident in some of the posters' sentiments.

I would however like to clear up a few things in relation to some detracting remarks I received. Firstly, I do use combis on a regular basis....almost daily in fact. It is true to say that they are cheap but as most of you well know they are both uncomfortable and shambolic....and for that reason I am far from an aficionado. Many people have suggested that I frequent different neighbourhoods in search of arbitrary liaisons with the natives. I have to admit that it isn't in my nature to impose myself upon others for no good reason but I make no apologies for that as some people are extroverted whilst others have more restrained personalities. I have some old ladies that take a great interest in my trials and tribulations when I make my regular visits to the laundrette and that satisfies my interest in socialising with strangers! Nevertheless, I always try to speak Spanish with my gf's family and friends and I'm making ever greater efforts to converse with my gf in castellano as well. A few weeks ago I started volunteering for an NGO here, which specialises in sustainable development and this is helping to improve my Spanish markedly given that we work solely in Spanish.

It seems to me that many board posters want to champion how they have triumphed over adversity here due to their positive and proactive attitudes, as well as their parsimony, and I give those people credit. Nonetheless, not everyone can dispel their concerns and trepidation with such ease and it isn't fair to criticise those that don't experience a smooth transition. This site should offer a balanced account of what life is really like here, covering both the good and bad points. To disallow such objective comment would be misleading and oppressive. For instance, whilst technically true, it isn't entirely realistic to advise people that they can rent a place for 200 soles per month and live off 500. In fact, the mere suggestion is lunacy as far as I'm concerned and I defy any person that would accept the miserable existence this would entail, i.e. no travel, no restaurants, no drinking, living in a hovel, and so on. Some people may be happy to live with meagre funds and give up on their own personal aspirations in the name of love....I'm just not sure yet if I can do the same. I'm no longer a penny pinching student and I'm no hippy.

As for my situation, not much has changed since my 1st post and I'm still struggling to envisage a comfortable future here in Lima. I value having a high quality of life and now, more than ever, I have the utmost gratitude for what my country offers. It's quite amazing how civilised and socially responsible Britain is in relation to most other places in the world. We have free healthcare and education (up to university level), great annual leave entitlements, generous salaries (that give us disposable income to travel and enjoy life), flexible working environments, people are for the most part tolerant and respectful, the sense of humour is good, and our infrastructure is modern and efficient. Of course, it is true to say that there are many problems there and we have a chequered past on the world stage but we have very little reason to complain when all things are considered and I for one have renewed pride for my country and all it has achieved. I love to see new places and do see myself living abroad in the future but being at 'home' no longer seems like a daunting or depressing prospect. I would love to have the freedom to enjoy Peru more fully but without financial security I don't feel able to do so. For the sake of my relationship I do sincerely hope to find a solution to my predicament, expeditiously, because I do really love my gf, in spite of our difficult situation here. If I do have to go back I have resolved to do everything in my power to allow my gf to study in the UK as soon as possible, from helping her with the paperwork and scholarship applications to offering substantial financial support to make it a reality. We shall see how things pan out.

Thanks again...
Last edited by Britinperu2 on Sat Jan 15, 2011 8:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby rama0929 » Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:23 pm

Whether you decide to stay in Lima or return to the UK, at least you can say that you gave it your best shot. At the very least you have a greater appreciation for your native land and the little things that you take for granted.

I always say that life here or there isn't better or worse, it's just different. There are some things there that wouldn't fly here and vice versa. It is what it is.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby Saramira222 » Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:32 am

Hello, Britinperu, thanks for the update. I, too, found this to be a very illuminating and honest thread showing many sides of life here in Peru. I don't think I would like to see the places that can be rented for 200 soles either. I hope I will never have to. I work on stress management every day here even though my Spanish is fluent, and I am indeed, part Peruvian. And my appreciation for things the USA offers (which are unfortunately in decline) such as excellent public libraries and clean restrooms has increased enormously. I wish you the best however it turns out, and I hope that you will come to the expat meeting Comet mentioned. Speaking English alone and venting a tad is often healthy and can restore one's sense of humor.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby Remigius » Thu Jan 13, 2011 1:42 pm

Britinperu2 wrote: If I do have to go back I have resolved to do everything in my power to allow my gf to study in the UK as soon as possible, from helping her with the paperwork and scholarship applications to offering substantial financial support to make it a reality. We shall see how things pan out.


I do not know from what class you gf is, but be advised that people from the higher social classes here (class A and B) may find out that moving to a European country is a step back from what they are used to. The freedom you have here is the price you have to pay for a lack of social security. However, Peruvians are short-term thinkers. In other words, if they have the money now, they have access to private clinics and other private conveniences which in Europe would only be accessible for the director of British Airways or the directory of Heineken Beer. Therefore, if you gf moves to Europe and she is used to a good lifestyle here, then don't be surprised her becoming homesick pretty quickly and feeling exactly the way you do now.

I like Peru (with its ups and downs) and that's why I could safely bring my wife to Holland, knowing if she did not like it (which in the end she didn't), we could always return to Peru without hurting our relationship. In your case, you do not like Peru and you don't know how she will feel in England. Peruvians are extremely attached to their country and get homesick very quickly. The decision you and your gf are facing is a very difficult one. Be sure to be on the same wave.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby locho » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:04 pm

as a newly-arrived expat myself, it's been reassuring to read the thoughtful and compassionate responses in this thread. i've already spent well over a year in lima as a visitor, and so i'm all too aware of the negative aspects of living here. it's sometimes a struggle to remind myself of the positives, and it's nice to know that i'm not alone! so thanks for that.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby Kelly » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:15 pm

Something else, and I know it seems simplistic and a bit Pollyanna of me, but whenever I start getting homesick or feeling down on Lima, I write about (either in my blog or just in a journal) the things that I DO like.

I'm fortunate, I guess - I've never had problems like many people have with crime or the post office or people being rude to me. The problems that I have had could have just easily have happened anywhere in the world - they're nothing to blame on Peru or Lima.

But yes, there are times when Lima really starts getting me down, and being without a spare penny doesn't help. Especially in late winter, the lack of sun really does a number on me - I'm from the beach in Florida, used to a lot of sun - and it would be lovely to spend a couple days outside of Lima in a sunnier spot. However, even with a car, it costs money that we don't have to run off and do those things. So, I do get where you're coming from.

Anyway, the point is (not just for the OP, but for anyone who feels a bit drug down by Lima) is to try to look for things that you DO like, and try not to let the bad things fill you up with sadness or bitterness - once you do that, EVERYTHING starts looking bad, and it can destroy your relationship.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby chuck » Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:15 pm

Kelly wrote:Something else, and I know it seems simplistic and a bit Pollyanna of me, but whenever I start getting homesick or feeling down on Lima, I write about (either in my blog or just in a journal) the things that I DO like.
...
...
Anyway, the point is (not just for the OP, but for anyone who feels a bit drug down by Lima) is to try to look for things that you DO like, and try not to let the bad things fill you up with sadness or bitterness - once you do that, EVERYTHING starts looking bad, and it can destroy your relationship.


I have been here for 12 months now and I too feel a bit down now and then. I read your post, Kelly, and I said to myself "Self, what do you like about Lima?"


This is a list of things I like about Lima:

1. I like the Jack Daniels Ribs at Fridays at Larcomar.
2. I like the "Cebiche blu" at bluMar restaurant.
3. I like that I brought an extended supply of Gillete Fusion 5-blade razors, Tim Tams, Vegemite and natural rock salt in a grinder.

One of the problems, as I see it, is that "we are products of our environment". For us expats, our environment was back in our home country. We grew up being exposed to the western way of life with consumerism, materialism and capitalism.

We got used to an ordered, simple, protected and nurtured life, complete with zebra crossings that seemed to actually work.

Cheers.
There are 10 types of people in the world — those who understand binary, and those who don't.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby Remigius » Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:30 pm

Also, one of the key factors of success when it comes to these kinds of relationships is mutual respect for each other's lifestyles and cultures. If you're not on the same wavelength, it won't work.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby roddd » Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:51 pm

Its like anywhere you live you either love it and adjust to it or you move somewhere where you want to be
i live in London and come to Peru several times a year i love Peru but when i come back to London
i realise how life is a lot better in some ways in Peru ,London is a mad place where people look at you
strange if you even dare to ask them what the time is, but i am here in London to earn money as one day i intend to retire in Peru,
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby alanisidro » Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:45 pm

I think all the problems of living in Lima stated by Britperu are a common problem people suffer from all over Latin America. I have been down in LA for 16 years (mostly in Costa Rica) but also a couple years in Lima around 2001, and many visits after. A lot of people arrive thinking of paradise only to realize the problems--especially with Spanish--and eventually return to their home countries. As for Spanish, try to make your goals short term, like ordering food in a restaurant and taking a taxi. Approach it piece by piece and you will see yourself make progress. Also, I recommend a good, bilingual private teacher as opposed to taking classes at a school. Learn to pronounce Spanish correctly. If you don't pronounce the words correctly, your will not be attuned to picking it up when listening to others. Many of the schools are businesses and their main purpose is making money and not necessarily making you a capable Spanish speaker. Then, too, many of the teachers are Spanish teachers who don't have experience learning a second language. Learning a second language as an adult is an entirely different experience than teaching Spanish to native speakers.

Many extranjeros arrive down here expecting love and acceptance everywhere. How realistic is that?Peruvians are generally very friendly in comparison to the average American. Remember that there are thousands of people in Lima who want to improve their English, and will jump at the chance to talk of you.

Lima certainly isn't paradise but having traveled over most of LA, I have to say there are parts of Miraflores that are without equal especially the end of Calle La Paz by the Palisades. Also, there are many LA cities where you go out at night at your own peril. Miraflores is alive and bustling, and for LA that is a big plus.

Good luck.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby jimmyglen » Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:29 pm

Great thread and I understand your plight a little

I have never lived full time in Lima but the times spent have been time to learn my likes and dis-likes
7 years of going back and forth

the bottom line about Lima is that to live nice - its MORE EXPENSIVE than most other places

there is a growing middle class and an established upper class and all of these people are clamoring for luxury

the $$$ in Peru is highly concentrated and those ares are expensive

and who in their right mind would want to live poor - if you do want to be poor- dont be poor in a poor country!
Wealthy nations provide more support for the poor so why not be poor there?

you only go around once!

I want to live like a king but on less $$$ - can it be done ....?????

I am not moving to Peru until I have all my ducks in a row.

Things I require (your list may vary)
good medical doctors lined up - check
private vehicle - check
income enough to do the things I enjoy - not yet there
house in Lima and one outside Lima - half there
$$$ enough to fly back to the US twice a year - getting there
$ for emergency - getting there
fast internet connection + laptop - got it
12 gauge shotgun - just got one!
.380 CCW handgun - just got it!
etc
etc

I had to get the guns in my father in laws name (FYI)

anyways - best of luck to everyone - I hope everyone finds there happiness

TE AMO PERU!
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby matthew » Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:19 pm

My situation is a little different than you in that I work from a home office for an international company and the money aspect hasnt really come into it but ive experienced the rest of what your going through, we moved here 8 months ago and my spanish would have definitely been worse than your's, coupled to this we were having problems finding a house due to work engagements and we were living with her family ( 6 siblings ) in comas which isnt exactly known for there good treatment of foreigners, I couldnt even walk 40 metres to the local shop without being accompanied by a family member and her biggest dog, I think in a way the feelings you have are made worse by the same feelings i had, my situation went from being a highly paid, successful and well travelled engineer to being a 2 year old child that couldnt communicate or leave the house without parental guidance, your not the only person who goes through this as most foreigners experience culture shock when there thrown into a country that is upside down from where they came, my advice is if you like the girl stay awhile, go out each day and make a point of talking to people in spanish ( theres always someone who will talk abit ) and start deleting a few of these negatives you currently have about peru, might sound stupid but i hang out at a small shop that sells chicken everyday for 30 minutes and chat to the staff, they've probably taught me more than my spanish teacher and all it cost me was a two beers a day. You could have moved anywhere and you would have had the same experience, delete the negatives and you'll start seeing the positives, if you still dont like peru atleast you've taken an informed decision
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby goparlen08 » Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:40 pm

Hi BritinPeru, I can see that you have had a record amount of reply to your posting. People really care although some may have not been so kind to you. Just take it easy! I am sure that your voluntary job at the NGO will help you interact with the Peruvian people and things will soon go more smoothly for you. I have been living in your country for 9 years on a student visa. Although all the infrastructural facilities and social comfort, I have never felt as at home. However I made the choice of living in the UK because I had more opportunities to pursue my studies. I find it great that you have worked for the UN on sustainable development and I am sure your competence is needed around the world, developed as well as developing countries. I have done part of my studies too on this subject and I would be glad to meet you and exchange some views, I wish you good luck here! Goparlen ([email protected])
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby anuta » Fri Jan 14, 2011 11:26 am

Remigius wrote:
I do not know from what class you gf is, but be advised that people from the higher social classes here (class A and B) may find out that moving to a European country is a step back from what they are used to. The freedom you have here is the price you have to pay for a lack of social security. However, Peruvians are short-term thinkers. In other words, if they have the money now, they have access to private clinics and other private conveniences which in Europe would only be accessible for the director of British Airways or the directory of Heineken Beer. Therefore, if you gf moves to Europe and she is used to a good lifestyle here, then don't be surprised her becoming homesick pretty quickly and feeling exactly the way you do now.



If the gf is from classes A/B, she is probably used to having a cleaning lady and will want a nanny to take care of the kids (if you get to that point). I think this is the main reason why "higher" class Peruvians prefer Peru, they have cheap help to take care of things nobody usually likes doing.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby anuta » Fri Jan 14, 2011 11:27 am

euroman wrote:Lima expensive?

You can also live economically in Lima.

A room can be rented for 200 soles a month. Shop at the markets and cook at home.
Buy clothes at Gamarra.


As usually, unrealistic advice. Last time I checked, even in Lince, the room was 250. And I don't think the bathroom was private. You yourself, lived in an appartment and now, in a house. I think you're just trying to provoke people here.
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Re: Struggling to adjust to life in Lima...

Postby Remigius » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:11 pm

anuta wrote:If the gf is from classes A/B, she is probably used to having a cleaning lady and will want a nanny to take care of the kids (if you get to that point). I think this is the main reason why "higher" class Peruvians prefer Peru, they have cheap help to take care of things nobody usually likes doing.


In case of children, she wants to give birth in private clinic with her own room and be there for 5 days to receive guests. She wants to have unlimited access to medicine (specifically antibiotics). The children will go to a less protective school environment you will find in private schools here. I mean, if you look at it, high class Peruvians lead a very exclusive life. Members of clubs, cheap manual labour, nannies, maids, cheap hairdressers, private clinics, etc. When they go to Europe or the States and end up in the middle class, they will have to roll up their sleeves.

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