And Just Like That…

Our trip to Peru has officially ended, but I know all of our GCU students hold every beautiful moment we had in our hearts in whatever may come for the future. There were so many amazing places, people, and cultures in Peru and we cannot wait to share our stories with you as the semester begins!!! Here are some of our favorite memories from this trip! Te amamos Peru!

Volunteer Work Only Getting Better!

As we stay longer in Peru, our students here only wish to do more and more with the time they have. The nursing students have been traveling to a different area each day, to offer medical care to the locals. The medical campaign offers height&weight, vitals, dental care, assessments, visits with the doctor, and the opportunity to receive medications and vitamins through a pharmacy. These areas were set up in the communities with tables and plastic chairs only supplied by donations. The community has been so appreciative and supportive of our students, faculty and the campaign. The group has been using their knowledge and skills from school, but this trip is giving them a unique experience and new perspectives for their aspiring careers. Not only are they learning new ways to approach giving care as a nurse, they are also learning so much about themselves as a person. All the students enjoyed talking with the patients that they were caring for. Throughout the week we interacted with different communities, and took on different roles each day. Although we did not speak Spanish that well, we broke the language barrier and were able to give care, and educate the locals of each community. Everyone was patient and helpful throughout the days at the clinic. Monday was our first day of the campaign, which was a time to become accustomed to the different healthcare settings. On Tuesday we were at a village in the country side where the prominent language spoken was Quechua, a native language, which made it more challenging to communicate with the patients,however, we did not allow it to affect the care being given. On Wednesday we had our clinic outside in a local market, which seemed strange at first but once we set up shop and threw on some sunscreen, we were ready to start the day. At the clinic today, the female patients had access to an Obstetrician, who gave them much needed womens health education and we totaled to 101 patients for the day, which was our highest population yet. Throughout the week, the nursing students have gained knowledge about themselves, patient care, and a very different culture and we are excited to conquer our last day of the campaign tomorrow!

-Nicole Kozikowski

Our social work students have also gotten so much out of this experience thus far. They have taken on caring for more and more children every day in the Aldea Infantil de Juan Pablo II (a place similar to foster housing in the U.S. that has been around for 30 years). The central mission of this institution is to care for children who have been abandoned, neglected, or orphaned. From Monday through today they have just wanted to give these children the much needed care and attention they need to be happy and have a good environment to be in. Not only have they seen what it is like for these children to live in these homes, but they had also met with the administration to ask more about this program. Little did they know there was no social worker at the institution at all, and they were actually contributing much more than they thought. Though they have two of these centers in Cusco, Peru that provide housing for children, there are not many people willing to take on the job of being a social worker. In fact currently at Juan Pablo II, the woman that used to do accounting picked up the job of the social worker, so the children could at least have someone. Aside from regular visits from a psychologist, many of the children still are not able to have extended access to social workers that could serve as mental health professionals, caretakers, experts on behavior, etc. Despite having this struggle though, both of our students have agreed that the system really is amazing because these children are kept together first and foremost, and the families are the strongest we have ever seen. The Aldea Infantil put aside property that has multiple homes right next to one another. They are placed in those housing units close to each other, so they have access to multiple family units (not just their own). Cusco can be considered a much more difficult environment to live in as a child, but this program at least gives them multiple outlets of family support and enrichment by constantly interacting with their peers. Not only this, but they also ensure these children learn basic skills so they can support themselves, much like programs in the United States. Basic skills give them the knowledge that they need to be responsible and find jobs one day, when they turn 18. Though they want to have them ready for that age, they do not hesitate to help past 18 years of age, and they still house a 19 year old because he needed more help. The past couple days have just taught our social work students that it is so important to really get to know the environment that you are working in, and how different situations require different and all of our attention. They have not skipped a beat when working with the children, and hope to volunteer more in places like this one that might not have social workers despite needing one.

Though we would all agree we have helped in whatever way we could, these places have taught us more than we could ever imagine. We have to them, but they gave back to us in so many ways. Tomorrow is the last day of our volunteer work, but we will definitely take this with us wherever we go!

-Lily Antonowicz

Importance of Water in Peru

It is amazing how when traveling from one country to another our eyes can be opened. One concept that we always discuss as a group is how different the water system is in Peru. In the United States, any of us can simply walk to the sink and fill our cup with water if we are feeling thirsty. We can take showers (even long showers) without worrying about wasting water. We know that water will always be there in one way or another in our homes. In Peru that is completely different and water is conserved and valued much more than many that reside in the U.S. This eye opener began at the start of the trip when we could not even drink the water from here unless it was bottled or boiled. Every day we must go out and buy multiple liters of water so we do not get sick, but our homestay family has been so kind as to boil water every day for us to ensure we can remain safely hydrated.

So much work just goes into attaining our water, but then the second change came when we were told how the water system works for the whole town of Cusco. Every day the water is shut off in sections of the town at different times to conserve what they have, so it often happens that we either rush to take showers before dinner, or we wait until the morning to wait for the water to come back on. It is amazing that they have such a system set up in order to conserve, and it made all of us realize we take showering any time we want for granted. Water is a necessity for life and a healthy life, so it is very difficult to come to terms with knowing not every place around the world has an easy time attaining such a valuable resource. We wanted to write this post to our readers back home just because we have realized how important it is to appreciate the luxuries we have because it is not always so easy to find here in Peru. We are appreciative beyond words that everyone helping us stay here has been so helpful in giving us clean water and the access to it when it is on. Consciousness of what we have every day is so important in all the things we do, and Peru reminds us to remember many of us at least have our basic necessities in life. I think everyone can agree that water is vital for everyone, so hopefully both the readers and our trip group will bring this back to our own country and expand on these thoughts. Water in fact is very amazing when you think of how much we need it for. What does having water mean to you, and how do you think you can extend this importance to others?

Volunteer Work Day 1!

Yesterday began our real purpose for coming to Peru…our opportunity to volunteer! Our social work students had the opportunity to attend the Aldea Infantil de Juan Pablo II, and work with young orphans aged 2-7. From coloring pictures to playing with toys to dancing, our students were just happy to provide whatever they could to make their day a good one for this week. They cannot wait to see what other activities they can be a part of this week. Unfortunately they could not take any pictures, but you can imagine the smiles on our little friends’ faces. Today they hope to bring donations and have an even better day with the kids! Our nursing students had the chance to set up their own medical campaign in San Jeronimo. By the end of the day they served 55 individuals in the area aged 7 months-96 years of age. They had stations set up for admissions, height and weight, vitals, fluoride, medical assessments, and pharmacy! It was an unforgettable experience for them to have, and cannot wait to work with the Quechua community today (the native population of Peru). Along with them today they brought more donations for the community.

The end of our day was filled with more little adventures after our volunteer work which you will see in our pictures. We had the chance to dress in traditional Peruvian clothes and see even more of the culture just through walking the streets of Cusco! This city never ceases to be beautiful!

All of our students, though they were nervous to see what happened in their day realized that they will help in whatever way they can in their time here. We look forward to sharing more stories and experiences throughout the week, and hope to have even more to tell everyone following our journey. Hasta pronto!

Beautiful Views, Inca Ruins, and More!

Yesterday was quite the day for our social work and nursing students. We started out the day with the most beautiful, sunny views from the top of our homestay and we could not wait to get started on our tours! After going to the market named San Pedro to look at the local atmosphere and buy some little things for ourselves, we began more adventures. With our amazing tour guide Jennie (A.K.A. J-Lo) we were shown some of the most interesting sites of Cusco, Peru including Saqsaywaman, el Catedral, and many other sites that were influenced by the Spanish settlers, but more importantly the Inca civilization. Learning so much about their history made all of us realize how rich of a culture this really is, and how much it should be appreciated beyond just the Spanish culture. From seeing the views from the top of the mountains to being present in their churches, we all can say this experience was truly unforgettable. Today begins our volunteer work, so make sure to see what we have in store for you tomorrow! Hasta próxima vez!

First Day In Peru!

Today marks our first day in Peru, and what an exciting day it was! After we got settled into our homestay, we were lucky enough to get a small tour of the Plaza de Armas before our orientation at Máximo Nivel to learn about our IVHQ experience. This city center of Cusco was gorgeous from its architecture to the mountains to the markets nearby. It was surely culture shock for many of us, but so eye-opening and exhilarating to see such an interesting place on just the first day. Make sure to follow along to see what we continue to do from our little adventures to our volunteer opportunities. Let’s see where we go exploring next!

Off to Peru!

It’s time for us to depart to Cusco, Peru! In less than 24 hours we will be beginning our amazing journey. We are so excited to share our thoughts, pictures, and experiences with you all. Don’t forget to follow along with us in Peru using the link below to stay tuned for all the wonderful opportunities we will have!

¡Hasta luego Estados Unidos!

Semester Abroad in Hong Kong

City view of Hong Kong from The Peak

Hi, my name is Debra Cohen. I studied abroad in the spring of 2018 in Hong Kong. It was an experience of a lifetime. I have lived in many different places but nothing quite like HK. When I first decided to go, I was really struggling with all the many decisions I had to make and all the plans I had to figure out.  But if I had known what studying abroad was going to be like, I maybe wouldn’t have stressed and complained so much😊. So, for any of you thinking about studying abroad, I’m going to try and explain my trip as best I can and give some tips to make it a bit less stressful.

Hong Kong is an English-speaking Special Administrative Region of China that was colonized by the English in the early 1900’s. It is located in a cluster of islands in Asia and the city is built into the side of mountains. In the city center there are massive tall sky scrapers and buildings. A wide river (Victoria Harbor) runs between two islands with a ferry to take passengers across.


Transportation is very simple between the very efficient MTR, slow but scenic tram, or cheap taxis. I enjoyed taking the double decker tram on days when I wasn’t in a rush and wanted to see the city. Sometimes I would take a good book with me and sit on the upper deck by the back window and chill. I used taxis mostly after going out on the town to LKF.

Now I’m not promoting partying, but Hong Kong is known for it bars and clubs. And what’s more, 18+ can drink out there! So, go but don’t go too crazy. Actually, our apartment had a local bar downstairs from it and we spent a bunch of our time down there and got to know the locals pretty well. If you ever end up there, go check out quench bar in Kennedy town, I believe we made it on the wall 😊.

We lived at unisuites. They are very cute apartments located in Kennedy town just a short metro trip or decent walk to school (LOTS of stairs). I loved our apartment and location compared to some of the dorms. However, the dorms were a quarter of the price and if you lived there you made instant friends, something that was a bit more challenging for us because we were kind of out of it.

About HKU (Hong Kong University). I loved the school. HKU is a very big school with many different faculties. Which means whatever field you go into you will most probably be able to find the classes you need. The classes themselves I found a bit challenging being that I was in the science program but honestly, they are very doable if you put in the work. The teachers are ready to help you and they do give very clear instructions on what they expect of you. My favorite class was lab for organic chemistry. They really expect you to know your stuff and a expect tentative lab report at the beginning of each lab. It is also where I became good friends with my lab group. They have an excellent program for exchange students which is where I made most of my friends. Before the school started, they have different trips set up for the exchange students to meet each other and explore the city and the outer regions. These short trips are some of my fondest memories of Hong Kong. The campus itself is very large and beautiful with lots of study spots and many different restaurants. I spent a lot of time with my friends on the top floor of the arts building on the grass or in the very large library where they had gorgeous views of the city and the river.








Now, about the traveling. While studying there I visited a few different surrounding countries. It was always easy to find people to travel with being all the exchange students traveled A LOT. There was one girl I knew who literally just traveled for a month strait. I do not recommend this because missing that much school work was probably not a good idea. My first trip I did was to Cambodia and Thailand. Such beautiful countries. Cambodia was a 2nd/3rd world country while Thailand was a bit more built up in some places.

In Thailand, we stayed in Bangkok first and saw the castles and then went on to Phuket where we got to see the most beautiful islands.

Phuket, Thailand

In Cambodia we went to the temples and at night we went to the night markets. This whole trip cost about $200-300. These Asian countries are so very cheap. For example, our lavish breakfast costed $3. Flights out of Hong Kong are also pretty cheap.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia









The next trip I went on was to Vietnam. It is the most beautiful and underrated country. We biked down the coast for the whole day on motor bike and the views where breathtaking. We went to a small beautiful old village in Hoi Ann and did some shopping. I then parted ways with my friends and stayed in the executive suite of a hotel for the rest of the week for $200! It was finals week and wanted to study in luxury lol.


My last trip I took was to Beijing in Hong Kong. I want to say it was the highlight of my trip, but I really enjoyed every aspect of my journey so it’s hard to choose. I went with an exchange student I met on my trip. We climbed the great wall of china all the way to the end, 20,000 steps! It was not easy. We explored the old city and we went to the summer palace. Beijing was a very interesting city and we mostly took the subway which took us about 1 hour to get home and we had to change 3 trains 3x! stay closer to the center of the city if you plan to go.

Great Wall of China









Studying abroad is for everyone and anyone who wants to live life to the fullest. It’s an experience like no other. If one cannot do a full semester, they should definitely do the faculty led trips but there is nothing like the full semester study abroad trip. When you live in a country for a whole 5 months you really get to know the place you’re living in. You get a feel for the culture and the history of the city. You are forced to learn your way around and it becomes your home. I can’t wait until I have the chance to go back. I miss it terribly.



4 Days Until Service-Learning Trip to Peru!

Photo of group of students in a classroom

Hi everyone!

There are only 4 days to go before the arrival in Cusco, Peru! Our very own GCU nursing students will be working to provide accessible health services, as well as our social work students participating in child care services. For 10 days we will experience the invaluable experience of volunteering abroad! Make sure to check our blog for updates on our trip from January 12th-20th using this link:

Hasta pronto!