Semester in Peru

Basic information

  • Location: Arequipa, Peru | Map
  • Dates: Next scheduled for Fall 2024. Application deadline is March 1, 2024
  • Class requirement: Sophomore
  • GPA requirement: 2.50+
  • Prerequisite courses:
  • Cost: To be announced

Machu Picchu, Peru.

Spend a semester in Arequipa, Peru in this advanced Spanish language program. Each fall semester, you have the opportunity to study at the Universidad Católica San Pablo, live with a Peruvian family and take excursions to places like Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu.

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.

Check out the experience of the students who undertook this adventure in the Fall of 2014!

How to apply

If you're interested in participating in this off-campus program, click the button below for a checklist that will walk you through the application process.

Apply to join
this program

Semester in Peru

Arequipa, Peru

Peru's second largest city, Arequipa is located about 600 miles southeast of Lima and is about 2 hours by bus from the Pacific Ocean. It is 7,661 feet above sea level. 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.

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
  • Excursions to Cusco, Lima, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Puno and Colca Canyon
Approx. 1.008 million
Described as eternal spring, Arequipa's climate is sunny and dry all semester with an almost invariable high of 70° F (20° C) and chilly nights.

Program Profile: Peru

In most cases students adapt well to their circumstances, but it is helpful to know what to expect as you prepare for a specific experience. If you have specific questions about a program, we would encourage you to speak directly to your off-campus instructor or director or, feel free to stop by the OCP Office at any time.

Physical expectations: Moderate
Language Importance: High
Cultural acclimation difficulty: Moderate
Level of Cultural Interaction: High
Safety & Security Considerations: Moderate

Health Considerations: Moderate
Mental Health Considerations: Moderate
Lodging: Host Families

Social Expectations: By their nature, semesters and interims off-campus are inherently social experiences. Heavy emphasis is usually put on building a strong sense of community within the group, which requires openness, sociability, and a collaborative spirit from everyone involved. Acknowledging that having a diversity of personalities makes a group stronger, it is expected that all participants willfully agree to be an active part of the social community of their interim or semester program. Students should make a commitment to interact actively with host families the host university community.


Physical Expectations


These experiences require no more physical exertion than being on Calvin’s Campus. You don’t have to worry about doing anything physically demanding unless you want to. No physical preparation is required to make the most of this experience.


Moderate physical activity is expected and an average level of fitness is required. You will be doing a great deal more walking then on campus, often over uneven surfaces and rough roads. Some physical preparation is recommended before departure to make the most of this experience.


Be prepared for some serious physical activity requiring an above average level of fitness. This will include a high level of walking over all kinds of terrain as well as other physical demands in all kinds of extreme temperatures. The fitter you are, the more you’ll enjoy this experience as many activities will be challenging.


Language Importance


English is the predominant language in course location.


Knowing another language is helpful to fulfill the goals of the course but English is also prevalent in course location.

Knowing another language is important to fulfill the goals of the course.


Cultural Acclimation Difficulty


Western conveniences are prevalent. Host culture is very similar to traditions and culture of West Michigan.


Few western conveniences, the need for students to blend in with the surrounding culture is important. Host culture shares similarities and differences with the culture of West Michigan.

No western conveniences, the need for students to acclimatize to local culture is readily apparent. Host culture is vastly different than West Michigan.


Level of Cultural Interaction


Interaction with local culture is limited and very formal (e.g. through organized tours).


Intentional opportunities to interact with local peoples and culture.


Intensive immersion in local culture – host families, service-learning, etc.


Safety & Security Considerations

Although no one can guarantee your safety or eliminate all risks from a study-abroad experience, Calvin College is committed to doing its utmost to provide secure environments in which you can live and learn. Our goal is to minimize risks and keep you aware of special situations as you make decisions about studying off-campus.


Safety concerns are similar to living on campus. Incidents can happen anywhere, but there are no indications that you are more at risk during this experience then you would be at home. You always need to continually be aware of what is going on around you and partner with your Calvin instructor or director to assure your safety while off-campus.


There are no specific safety concerns of the U.S. State Department for the areas where you will be studying. However, additional care must be taken to assure a safe and secure experience. You always need to continually be aware of what is going on around you and partner with your Calvin instructor or director to assure your safety while off-campus.


There are safety concerns you should be aware of as you commit to this trip. The U.S. State Department has issued a Travel alert or Warning for the area where you will be studying. You will need to partner with Calvin in addressing safety concerns and follow all safety guidelines for the experience.


Health Considerations

Remember, Calvin follows the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for all Calvin sponsored off-campus experiences.


Health concerns are similar to living on campus. Illnesses and accidents can happen anywhere, but there are no indications that you are more at risk during this experience then you would be at home. Health Care resources (clinics, medical personnel, etc.) are numerous and you would have easy access to medical care if needed. Some vaccinations will be required, but overall precautions are minimal.


In general, health concerns are slightly higher than living on campus. Typical travel illnesses (diarrhea, intestinal issues, etc.) are often experienced and appropriate health care is available but can be harder to access than on campus. Several vaccinations may be required and students must be diligent in taking precautions before and during the experience.


Health concerns are higher than living on campus. Typical travel illnesses (diarrhea, intestinal issues, etc.) are often experienced at some point. Plans to assure adequate health care are in place but health care facilities could be hard to access during the experience. There may be many vaccinations required for the experience and students must be diligent in taking precautions before and during the experience.


Mental Health Considerations

Remember, the Broene Counseling Center cannot provide on-line or phone consultations with students.


Mental health resources are similar to living on the Calvin campus. Mental Health resources (clinics, counselors, etc.) are available and you would have access to these resources, if needed. It could be challenging to find the right resources on short notice and for a short period of time.


Mental health resources are present in various locations during the experience but maybe difficult to access for a variety of reasons.




Group will be camping (living outdoors) at times during the trip.

Host Families

Students will be staying with host families for parts or all of the experience.


Staying in College dorms, similar to Calvin. Roommates will be other Calvin students or other international students depending on your preference.


Dormitory style lodging, shared bathrooms.


Individual rooms (with roommates) and private baths.



Cost of off-campus experiences vary as a result of a number of factors, including the number of students enrolled in the program. Amidst all these factors, the following categories could be helpful, but students are encouraged to check with instructors and directors on specific cost information.


$ Within $500 of tuition, room & board on campus
$$ Between $501 and $2,000 of tuition, room and board on campus
$$$ More than $2,000 over tuition, room and board on campus


$ Less than $2,500
$$ $2,501 to $3,800
$$$ >$3,801


The prerequisite for the Peru Semester program is SPAN-301. We offer from SPAN-302 on.

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, the Universidad Católica San Pablo, in order to ensure a true immersion experience. A list of those courses will be available to students accepted to the program. The San Pablo courses will begin simultaneously with STPE 315 and run the whole semester.  You must enroll in STPE 315 and at least one San Pablo course, then choose among the remaining courses for a total of 12-17 credits. More than that would result in an overload charge.

  • STPE 315: Engaging Peruvian Culture
  • STPE 302: Advanced Grammar, Conversation, and Composition II
  • STPE 308: Introduction to the Hispanic World
  • STPE 309: Introduction to the Hispanic World II
  • STPE 340: Spanish Phonology and Dialectology
  • STPE 390: A regular course offering of the Universidad Católica San Pablo
  • STPE 393: Independent Ethnographic Study

Learn more about direct-enroll transfer credits in academic services.

Course Fulfillments

All San Pablo courses will count as electives toward a major or minor in Spanish.


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


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.


The 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 for the Peru semester program will include:

  • Tuition
  • 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: round-trip airfare, passport, books, immunizations and medical insurance (required), independent travel, spending money.

The Fall 2024 semester in Peru will be directed by Dr. Scott Lamanna.


This year's application deadline has passed. Check back next year to apply.

Questions / contact

Scott Lamanna

Scott Lamanna

Associate Professor
Full profile



  • Course code:
  • Credits:
  • Semester:
  • Department: