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Combine exchange programmes and internship opportunities offered to FIR students: Lucie Gregůrková’s experience in Peru

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peru4The Faculty of International Relations actively supports students interested in both exchange programmes and internships abroad, since an international experience is considered to be an essential part of studies. Both possibilities are open to students of Master’s degrees thanks to a financial support from Erasmus+ and a scholarship funds of the Faculty of International Relations.

Lucie Gregůrková, student of the Faculty of International Relations, is a living example of “everything is possible when you want it to be”. Her interest and aptitude show other students that Master’s degree at the Faculty of International Relations could be pretty interesting. She spent last semester as an exchange student at the Universidad del Pacífico in Peru, and this semester she has started her internship at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Lima. The internship abroad is worth 15 ECTS as a course 22F412 Foreign traineeship - long-term.

Lucie is doing her Master’s degree in European Integration at the Faculty of International Relations and she holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies – Diplomacy. Through this interview she shares her experience from a semester in Lima as an exchange student. She talks about beauties of Peru, travelling possibilities, differences between education in Latin America versus the Czech Republic as well as security, which is a discussed issue.

As Mr. Ambassador Jan Kopecký said:

“You will either love or hate Latin America.” And I fell in love with it right away.


 1.       Lucie, you studied last semester at the Universidad el Pacifico in Lima, Peru. Why did you choose this country?

I used an exclusion method – I did not want to go anywhere in Europe and I wanted a Spanish speaking country, therefore it had to be Latin America. Our university has agreements with Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and Peru, with Peru being the cheapest. Moreover, Peru is full of ancient cultures that have always interested me.peru

2.       In which language did you study? Why didn’t you choose to study in English?

I studied in Spanish, because it was important to me to improve it and practice it. As a European I have plenty of possibilities to practice English.

3.       Did you notice any differences in teaching methods? Comparing education systems in Peru and the Czech Republic in what do they differ?

There are many differences as I have noticed. The most obvious is absence of classes’ division into auditory part and seminars. Each lesson is basically a seminar with 30 students while you can miss up to 30% of it. It did not suit me very well, I prefer the European way. Also, they have only two weeks exam period – one week of midterms and one week of finals. I have to admit that the level of difficulty is higher at our faculty, I was not stressed at all. On the other hand, the dialogue and interaction with students are more developed in Peru. Finally, professors are more active and temperament.

4.       During your visit in Bogota you attended as an accompaniment a radio programme. How did you get this opportunity and what was discussed?

My boyfriend studied at the university where the programme was broadcasted. It was an interview with him and his friend on the topic of exchange programmes for students, because they were the first ones who went to spend one semester abroad. The university wanted to spread the opportunity and to share their experience. They invited me, as a European student, to compare differences between studies in Europe and Latin America. The whole message was not to be afraid, go study abroad and take advantage of this unique opportunity that can change your entire life.

5.       What benefit does it bring to one? Would you recommend it to anyone?

Getting to know other cultures and people from different background is an amazing experience, it also enables you to get to know yourself and it changes you. You become more independent, it expands your horizon. After such an experience you are not that arrogant European who thinks Europeans are the only ones who do everything the right way, you become more tolerant. Moreover, travelling here is cheaper and the nature is amazing. I dare saying you cannot see such a countryside in Europe.

However, it depends on your aptitude during your semester abroad. You can keep close to Americans or Europeans all the time, speak only English and sleep in 5*hotels when travelling and ignore the new culture. I made friends among Colombians, Brazilians, one friend was French, other Polish. We were always speaking Spanish and travelled as backpackers. So I made friends from another continent for my whole life.

I would definitely recommend to go study abroad, it is an experience you will never forget.

peru36.       Was it your first experience abroad?

After first year at the university I was working in Scotland for 3 months. My semester in Peru was the first time I went outside Europe.

7.       During your stay in Peru, you travelled a lot. What did you visit and what was the most interesting sight for you?

I have visited the most important sights here. I think it is a pity that everyone knows only Machu Picchu built by the Incas. Though the Incas conquered the West of SouthAmerica only 300 years before the Spaniards. There are other more ancient cultures, for instance Chimu, Moche or Wari. You can discover their relics mostly in the North of Peru. I could only recommend Northern Peru, since it is twice as cheap as the South where Cusco and Machu Picchu are situated. My favourite trip was Arequipa city and Colca Canyon where you can watch condors and hike two days into an oasis between mountains.

8.       Why is Peru specific and different? What do you like about Peru the most?

The cuisine is very specific, for instance a typical dish is Ceviche – raw fish with onion, chili and lime juice. There is also a fusion of Chinese and Peruvian cuisine called Chifa. That is why a lot of my colleagues had gastrointestinal problems. If you plan to visit Peru, try to use probiotics before your journey.

What I like the most about Peru is the nature and cheap travelling.

9.       Do you plan to stay in Latin America a bit longer?

Yes I do. As Mr. Ambassador Jan Kopecký said: “You will either love or hate Latin America.” And I fell in love with it right away. I would like to stay here until June 2015. Right now I am working as an intern in the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Lima and I am applying for another internship in the Honorary Consulate from January 2015.peru2

10.   What do you think about social life at the university? How is it different?

Social life at the Universidad de Pacífico is greater than at our university. They have their own square where all kinds of events hold place. They also organize football, volleyball matches and so on. In addition, I noticed smaller gap between professors and students, they really treat each other as equals.

11.   What do you think about security situation in Latin America.

I have to admit that Europe really is safer than Latin America, although you can get robbed in Žižkov in Prague as well. Cities in Latin America are divided into nice and wealthy sections – the safe ones, and poor, less safe, areas. Therefore it is not true that you are always in danger. I have never been in peril and I do not feel unsafe because I always follow these rules: never take a taxi alone – especially at night, never go outside alone after dark, never go to the city centre or unsafe part after dark.

Finally, I would like to thank the Faculty of International Relations for their support and allowance of foreign experience.

Photo Credit: Lucie Gregůrková.

Pictures as they appear in the text:

  • Huaca de la Luna, Trujillo, Northern Peru
  • Machu Picchu
  • Colca Canyon
  • Tomb of the “Lord of Sipan" Northern Peru (Chiclayo).