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Semester Programs: Peru

Imagine spending a semester high in the Andean foothills with a view of three mountain peaks, in the second largest city of Peru, a university town par excellence. You will live with a Peruvian family and study with  Peruvian classmates and fellow Calvin students at our host university, the Universidad Católica San Pablo. Arequipa’s rich and diverse heritage, from the pre-Incan Aymaras to Spanish colonial times to the bustling economic and cultural center it is today, will afford you a unique perspective on Latin American reality. Its breathtaking natural setting provides opportunities to hike or raft with your new friends.  This complete immersion experience will expand your cultural horizons, deepen your understanding of intercultural dynamics, and increase your confidence and fluency in the Spanish language. 


You must have at least a 2.5 grade point average and sophomore status to study in Peru.  Because this is an advanced Spanish studies program, you must have completed at least Spanish 301.


All program participants will be individually placed with a Peruvian family in Arequipa.


The Fall 2015 program cost is expected to be within $1000 of Calvin tuition and room and board on campus. More specific cost information will be sent with your acceptance letter. The final program cost is based on many factors and is not known exactly until the number of students in the group has been identified. The financial information page covers the details that go into the cost of the program and rough estimates for each. The cost includes:

  • Tuition
  • Roundtrip air transportation, Grand Rapids-Arequipa-Grand Rapids
  • Full room and board with Peruvian families
  • Administrative fees
  • Program excursions
  • Two-week orientation course in August

Additional expenses not included in the program fee:  passport, books, immunizations and medical insurance (required), independent travel, spending money.


You will have taken at least Spanish 301 at Calvin before leaving for Peru.  We offer from Spanish 302 on.

The Universidad San Pablo’s semester begins on August 17, 2015 so the group from Calvin will leave on the 12th of August. The return date is December 18.

All courses are taught in Spanish.  Every student in the program is required to enroll in at least one regular course offering of our host university in order to ensure a true immersion experience.  A list of those courses will be available to students accepted to the program, and all courses will count as electives toward a major or minor in Spanish. The San Pablo courses will begin simultaneously with STPE 315 on August 17 and run the whole semester.  The other courses listed below begin on August 31.  You must enroll in STPE 315 and at least one San Pablo course, and then choose among the remaining courses for a total of 12-17 credits. More than that would result in an overload charge.

STPE 315:  Contemporary Peruvian Culture   
(3 semester hours, fulfills CCE credit) The learning objectives for this sectional include a heightened awareness of how cultural contexts impact human relationships; a deeper understanding of the Reformed worldview; and increased listening and conflict resolution skills. Student grades for the sectional material are based on their level of engagement with the readings and cultural activities through written reflections, presentations and in-class discussion.

STPE 302:  Advanced Grammar, Conversation, and Composition II 
(3 semester hours) A continuation of Spanish 301 and the second gateway course to the major or minor sequence. Designed to improve speaking and writing skills through vocabulary acquisition, honing of grammatical accuracy, and extensive practice in oral and written communication.

STPE 308: Introduction to the Hispanic World I 
(4 semester hours, fulfills Global & Historical Studies core) This course introduces students to the major developments of the Hispanic World from antiquity to the independence of the American colonies in the early 19th century. Discussions center on the relationship of major literary and artistic works to economic, political, religious, and social developments in the Iberian Peninsula and the Castilian colonies in the Americas. This course is normally the first in a sequence of two and is designed to prepare students for advanced-level culture and literature courses.  

STPE 309: Introduction to the Hispanic World II   
(4 semester hours, fulfills Literature core) This course introduces students to major developments of the Hispanic World from the independence of the Spanish American colonies to the present day. Discussions center on the relationship of major literary and artistic works to economic, political, religious, and social developments in Spain and Spanish America. In addition, students develop their skills in reading and evaluating literature in a second language through representative texts, and they sharpen their skills in critical writing and analysis. This course is normally the second course in a sequence of two and is designed to prepare students for advanced-level culture and literature courses.

STPE 340: Spanish Phonology and Dialectology
(3 semester hours) An introduction to Spanish linguistics, concentrating on the sounds of Spanish (phonetics and phonology), with appropriate pronunciation practice and contrasts with English pronunciation. Included are units on the history of the Spanish language and the major dialects spoken today.

STPE 390:  A regular course offering of the Universidad Católica San Pablo     
(2-3 semester hours) Enrollment in one or more UCSP coures is required of all students.  A list of courses will be provided by the director.

STPE 393: Independent Ethnographic Study
(2 semester hours) Placement in a local agency, school, or business to observe and/or participate in a work setting. Prerequisite: permission of the program director.


To apply for the program, please follow the directions to apply through our Horizons online system at this link.


Program Director, Fall 2011, Fall 2012 & Fall 2015
Dianne Zandstra, Spanish Department

Program Director, Fall 2013 & Fall 2014
Marilyn Bierling, Spanish Department

Arequipa, Peru:

Location: about 600 miles southeast of Lima and about 2 hours by bus from the Pacific ocean; at 7661 feet above sea level

Population: nearly 905,000; Peru’s second largest city

Things to do:
--Hike Mt. Misti or the Colca Canyon
--Raft the Chili River
--Attend concerts or visit historic museums and churches
--Join Peruvian classmates in San Pablo’s extracurricular activities such as music, drama, sports, or dance.
--Organize a weekend trip to the Pacific coast with your friends
--Shop for Peru’s best alpaca wool yarn and clothing or for the wonderful locally made chocolates
--Enjoy the beautiful central plaza with its fountain, trees, and cafés

Described as eternal spring, Arequipa’s climate is sunny and dry all semester with an almost invariable high of 68º to 72º Fahrenheit and chilly nights.

--Cusco and Machu Picchu
--Lake Titicaca and Puno
--Colca Canyon, twice as deep as the Grand Canyon

Interesting Facts:
Arequipa is known as La Ciudad Blanca because of its buildings built from white volcanic rock.  Its beautifully preserved colonial city center has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The Chili River runs through the city, and you can see volcanoes Misti, Chachani, and Pichu Pichu from almost anywhere.  Arequipa is home to three universities.

See what students are doing on the blog:

Fall 2014 Semester Blog
Adventures in Peru

Fall 2013 Semester blog
Adventures in Peru

Fall 2012 Semester blog: Calvin Crew in Peru blog



Peru Student Handbook

Tips from Students