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Azul Wasi August 18, 2012

Posted by Ariana Daftarian in Travel Log.
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One Wednesday after class we drove to Azul Wasi, a boarding school for kids of all ages without a home. This may have been my favorite part of the trip.

The drive up was absolutely breath-taking.

I”m not sure exactly what we were supposed to be doing while volunteering there, but I just spent the whole time with Alfredo.

I loved his shoes :/

Alfredo played with his yo-yo a lot, and he loved the camera on my phone. First he used it to take pictures, but once he discovered the video recorder, he started asking my to film him doing his yo-yo tricks. It was lots of fun ha. We just loved spending time with them and it was so beautiful there! Their school was literally in a valley surrounded by mountains.

it was sad to say good-bye





Machu Picchu August 18, 2012

Posted by Ariana Daftarian in Travel Log.
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One weekend, a big group of us got up real bright and early Saturday morning and met at the plaza to bus all the way to Aguas Calientes, the city where Machu Picchu is. After a night at a cold hotel in Aguas Calientes, we got up even earlier (like 4 am earlier) to make it to Machu Picchu it time to watch the sunrise. And of course, there were alpacas (in Cusco, every tourist buys an alpaca sweatshirt; it is THE souvenir).


We got this pizza afterward and it was delicious!




Peruvian Food August 18, 2012

Posted by Ariana Daftarian in Travel Log.
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There a few thing Peruvians could not live without: coca, potatoes, rice, and guinea pig. Coca is a plant that is very nutritious and abundant in Peru. They use it for tea, chocolate, gum, candy, etc. It also has great medicinal value as the people use the plant to make tea for anyone with a sore throat or an upset stomach. In fact, it is the same plant used to make cocaine and used in Coca Cola products to this day.

coca chocolate

Potatoes in Peru are also abundant, and there are many, many kinds. It is a stable in their diet. Most meals begin with a course of soup (usually with potatoes, maybe noodles and some vegetables).

The main course usually has rice.

Guinea pig is the national dish. Peruvians absolutely love guinea pig, and yes I tried some. Honestly, I don’t know what all the fuss is about; it tastes just like chicken to me.

This was my first meal out in Cusco. Since the city is very touristy, hamburgers are common, but there’s a twist. Fruit is extremely abundant and cheap in Peru. So most burgers have avocado on them, which was great for me because I love avocados. Fruit smoothies are also very common and very fresh!

chicken empanada
strawberry mmm

Desert in Peru is all over the place. Tres leches cake is pretty popular along with pudding and fruit. For my Peruvian brother’s 25th birthday we had tres leches along with a cake his mother baked for him. Jonathan was pretty happy.

tres leches
birthday cake
chocolate pudding made from scratch mmm

There’s also this very popular drink in Cusco and in many other South American countries known as “Pisco Sour.” We actually made some after school one day. It consists of pure, freshly squeezed lime juice, Pisco – an alcoholic beverage specific to South America, and a sweet, molasses-like liquid.

my pisco sour

pisco sours at trivia!




Cuzco August 18, 2012

Posted by Ariana Daftarian in Travel Log.
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I took this picture while waiting for the taxi driver to get directions to my host family’s house. I remember feeling so excited and anxious at the same time. I was about to meet my family for the next 5 weeks!

This house is across the street from my family’s. Most of the houses in Cusco are brightly painted like this one. Oh and there are dogs everywhere! All breeds too.

Plaza de las Arnas (main plaza)

our school!

We had class in the mornings for the first two weeks and in the afternoons for the next three so that we could shadow, volunteer, and explore in the mornings. On Fridays we would sometimes watch a movie or take class trips around the city to the local markets and such.

One thing that extremely common in Cusco was protests. Lots of people working for the city felt like they were severely underpaid, especially teachers. They all went on strike including some of the doctors and nurses at the clinic we were shadowing.

I shadowed at a local clinic once a week. The first week I was in prenatal.

About once a week we also went to special talks and lectures covering topics such as healthcare in Peru and alternative medicine.

view from hospital

Viva El Peru!

Lima July 1, 2012

Posted by Ariana Daftarian in Travel Log.
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So I’m sitting at a Starbucks at the airport in Lima. My flight to Cusco is not for another 3 hours or so. Now’s a good time to start this blog!

I don’t know very much about Peru, and I took on this medical spanish program to fill up my summer. I figure this’ll be my last chance to really travel. It’s also an experience that will put me out of my element in more than one way. First of all, I’ve done lots of traveling but never alone. I mean, my sister and I used to fly to Dallas all the time, but my parents would drop me off and my aunt would pick me up, so it wasn’t a big deal. When I studying abroad in Spain last summer, I was also not “alone.” Everyone in the program was from my college and some I knew pretty well. However, I am the only person from Georgia Tech in this program. In fact, I might be the only person from Georgia. The entire program consists of about 36 students, and they’re from all over the nation! I’m really excited to meet all of them! I’ve never experienced being completely new and having zero connections. I’ve lived in the same city my whole life, and with the exception of switching one or two schools where there were still people I was somewhat  familiar with, I’ve always been with friends, mostly very close ones. Even going from high school to college I was pretty sheltered in this way; my two best friends go to Tech with me. This’ll be different, and I’ll be here for 5 weeks so I’m really excited!

Now for the medical aspect I am SO excited for. In the past, I’ve volunteered and shadowed doctors at many different hospitals: Grady, Atlanta Medical Center, Piedmont, but now I’ll be volunteering at a hospital for children (which I LOVE) in Peru! It’s called Hogar Madre Teresa de Calcuta, and I’ll be volunteering there once a week with 8 other students. Description: El hogar de la madre Teresa de Calcuta houses children and adolescents with different developmental and physical disabilities in a state of familial, moral and economic abandonment. The home offers integral treatment, food and education to all of the children and adolescents.

Volunteer tasks:
– Direct accompaniment to the children, entertainment and assistance.
– Accompaniment and encouragement in liturgical activities.
– Support children who cannot eat on their own.
– Support in the kitchen, laundry room and other maintenance services.
– Activities for entertainment and amusement: drawing, singing, painting, etc.
I chose this project over others because I really want to work with children and adolescents!
As for our other program activites, we have spanish classes at the ECELA school Monday-Friday, 2-6pm. And…
Week 1:
– Monday: Guest speaker, Introduction to the Peruvian Healthcare System AND Orientation and Welcome Meeting
– Wednesday: Visit to Hospital Antonio Lorena
– Thursday: Meet and greet with medical students from the Universidad San Antonio Abad del Cusco
Week 2:
– Monday: Visit to a “Posta de Salud”, public health clinic
– Wednesday: Visit Hogar Clinica San Juan de Dios, a long-term shelter and medical care facility for abandoned and poverty-stricken children
– Friday: Visit Centro Gerontológico Cusco, a long-term care facility providing food, basic medical care and other services to the poor and abandoned elderly
Week 3:
– Monday: Guest speaker, Traditional Inka Medicine and Medicina Selvática (jungle/natural medicine)
– Tuesday: 1st volunteer session at institution of your choice
– Thursday: 2nd session of medical shadowing at Hospital Antonio Lorena
Week 4:
– Monday: Visit to Sacred and Medicinal Plants Museum
– Tuesday: 2nd volunteer session
– Thursday: 2nd medical shadowing session
Week 5:
– Monday: Guest speaker, History, Treatment and Prevention of HIV/AIDS in Peru
– Tuesday: 3rd volunteer session
– Thursday: 3rd medical shadowing session
Week 6:
– Monday: Guest speaker, Studying Medicine in Peru: Expectations and Difficulties
– Tuesday: Meeting with volunteer leaders to discuss and share experiences
– Thursday: 4th shadowing session
– Friday: Farewell dinner party
Unfortunately, I leave the Friday of week 5 to get back to school in time for Residential Advisor training, so I’ll miss week 6 :(
What I really want to get out of this experience is connections, and I don’t mean connections that will help me get a job or an internship. I mean connections with the people I meet here: with the family I stay with, with the students I take classes with, and with the kids I volunteer with. My favorite aspect of my study abroad experience in Spain was the people I met and the bonds I had formed. I still keep in touch with my mom in Spain, and I emerged with a deeper understanding of the Spanish culture and even healthcare. I hope to do the same here :)

Ariana Daftarian July 1, 2012

Posted by Ariana Daftarian in Travel Log.
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Name: Ariana Daftarian

Major: Biochemistry (pre-med)

Year: 3rd Year

Hometown: Roswell, GA

Study Abroad Program: ECELA (Español y Cultura en LatinoAmerica) Spanish & Medicine in Peru

Hello again! I’m bank, and now I’m a rising third year at Georgia Tech. During my second year, I was still a member of the Georgia Tech Orchestra, secretary of the Iranian Student Association (ISA), and became a head coordinator of the President’s Scholar Mentorship Program (PSMP). I also volunteered to teach tango steps to Parkinson’s patients and volunteered at Atlanta Medical Center on the Mother & Baby and Labor & Delivery floors. In addition, I shadowed an OB/GYN, my mentor, at Piedmont Hospital. In my free time, I enjoy reading, running, and dancing!

This summer, I’m doing another medical Spanish program. Only this time, I will be in Cusco, Peru! I’m so excited to get my Spanish going again as I have been neglecting it during the school year. High among the mountains in the ancient Incan city of Cusco, me and 35 other students will learn Spanish, volunteer at a learning hospital, and explore the world of Andean alternative medicine. The Spanish course is a six-week intensive equivalent to two college semesters. At Hospital Antonio Lorena, I will shadow doctors, discuss key cases in morning meetings, and practice Spanish in an immersive setting. The rural areas surrounding Cusco, where people rely exclusively on alternative medicine, provide a fascinating counterpoint to the learning hospital. I will visit alternative treatment centers and observe the use of plant-based medicines, hot rock therapy, acupuncture, and massage. While in Peru, I will also tour the iconic mountaintop Machu Picchu complex, visit local markets, and learn about indigenous cultures. I am so excited, and you can read my blogs throughout the summer to follow my journey!

Segovia, Toledo, and Madrid August 15, 2011

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The day before our classes started in Madrid, Anna, Courtney, and I decided to take a day trip to Segovia, and I have to say that it was one of my favorite trips of the summer. The city was like a fairy tale. The bus ride was only an hour long, and as soon as we got of the bus we spotted the magnificent, ancient aqueduct! It is so beautiful, and we were amazed at how well-kept it was. The Roman aqueduct is thought to have been built around the second half of the 1st century! We got a map at information, and the woman at the desk gave us the path to follow to see all of the city’s attractions before we headed to the top of the aqueduct to get a better view. From the top, we could see that the granite aqueduct stretched a long way through the city.

After we had fully taken in the site of the aqueduct, we followed the main street through the city and found this really cool-shaped church or iglesia in Spanish, which turned out to be Iglesia de San Esteban.

The best was yet to come! At the farthest end of the city is the Alcázar of Segovia (Segovia Castle). Walt Disney actually based his Cinderella castle on this 9-century-old castle. It was beautiful.

I made a wish at the wishing will at the top of the castle.

view outside castle

That Saturday, we took a class trip to Toledo, the capital of Castilla La Mancha (one of the 17 autonomous communities in Spain). I fell asleep on the bus ride down there, but woke up surrounded by the lush valleys of the  Tagus River. It was breathtaking.

We soon discovered that the rest of the city was just as beautiful; it was so clean with lots of detailed architecture and greenery. I loved it!


And now about Madrid, the capital of the country and our home for an entire month. I didn’t waste any time and went to El Prado my second day there and saw the works of Velzquez and romantic art (my favorite) including Goya’s works. I spent a full 4 hours there and still don’t feel like I saw everything. Towards the end of our stay in Madrid, I also went to La Reina Sofa, which exhibited more modern art including Dalí and Picasso whose most famous work Guernica  was displayed. I really enjoyed the modern art on display at this museum.

We also saw the crisp white Palacio Real (Royal Palace)

and Parque del Retiro (Retiro Park) with…

its beautiful floral arrangements,


and rowboats which we rented to paddle about the estanque or pond.

On our last day in Madrid we ate at Botín restautant close to Plaza Mayor. According to the Guinness Book of Records, it is the oldest restaurant in the world, dating from 1725. Needless to say it was delicious.

By the end of my summer in Spain, I have seen all Seven Wonders of the World in Spain:

1. Moorish Heritage: Spain was ruled by Muslims for over 800 years – La Alhambra in Granada and La Mezquita in Córdoba

2. Weird & Wonderful: Spain’s most bizarre architecture – Gaudí’s Parc Güell and La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

3. Catholic Spain: Spain’s many cathedrals – Catedral de Santa María de la Sede in Seville and Catedral Primada Santa María in Toledo

4. A Communal Space: Spain’s best plazas – Plaza de España in Seville and Plaza Mayor in Madrid

5. Mighty Fortresses: walled cities in Spain – Toledo’s City Walls

6. Bridging the Gap: Spain’s bridges and aqueducts – Segovia Aqueduct

I can’t even begin to describe to you how much fun I had this summer. It was the perfect balance between work and play. I met so many amazing people and saw so many glorious places. From the beaches in Cádiz to the Castles, Cathedrals, and Palaces throughout the country, I saw it all. This trip has had immeasurable effects on the way I view the world and the way we live in it.

I feel so lucky to have been given this opportunity and am eternally gratful. ❤

Pamplona and Barcelona August 14, 2011

Posted by Ariana Daftarian in Travel Log.
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Every year from July 6th to July 14th, the city of Pamplona celebrates San Fermín in the most famous running of the bulls (encierro in Spanish). The first bull running is on July 7th, followed by one each of the following mornings at 8 am. We spent spent some time in class that week in Madrid learning all about the festivities of San Fermín. We learned all of the songs and chants and watched videos as our professors gave us advice (to not run). So Thursday night, 5 other girls and I left on a bus to Pamplona. When we got there, we were welcome by CROWDS of people all dressed in white with red scarves. It was freezing, especially compared to Madrid, so we stepped into a restaurant to grab something warm to eat and formulate a plan. We proceeded to walk all over the city until we found where the encierro actually takes place. We started at the beginning where the above photo was taken – the bulls were kept in that building down behind us – and followed the path all the way to the bullring. I thought it would be best to get a view of the bulls towards the end of the running. Once we had our place located, we found a nice cafe where we got churros and chocolate (a popular snack in Spain) and relaxed/napped until around 6 am when we moved into our places on and around the fence. For the next 2 hours, we mingled with a few of the townspeople and people-watched. Since the Pamplona encierro is the most popular in Spain, it is broadcast live by two national television channels. There was a snake camera right across from us, and there were lots of reporters and photographers positioned on and around the fence. The most entertaining thing was watching the people climbing windows and lamp posts to get the best view. Meanwhile, the city prepared by using machines and people with bins and brooms to clean up the streets from the festivities of the night before. The police actually started clearing the space of people by forming a wall and following the path all the way to the beginning of the encierro.

At 8 am, we heard a gun shot and yelps of excitement. Lots of people in the encierro ran by and a few minutes later, we spotted the bulls!

It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I will never forget the city’s energy and excitement that morning.

That evening, Allie and I took another bus to Barcelona to meet some of our friends on the Barcelona and Oxford programs. It was kind of tricky because neither of us had phones or the address of our friends’ residence. We just knew the metro stop, and I had my laptop. Luckily, we found a hotel with wifi in no time. We had some trouble with the wifi but a couple from Georgia helped us!! What a coincidence! We got our friend Matt’s number, called him with the hotel phone, and met up with him. We were SO happy to see him and our friends Lucy and Nick.

The next morning, Matt gave us directions to Güell Park and La Sagrada Familia – both designed by Gaudí. The four of us had a lot of fun sight-seeing and going to the beach, where a wave knocked me down in my dress haha. It was a wonderful weekend!

Andalucía August 10, 2011

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I got to visit Andalucía twice: once with the Cádiz program and once while on the the Madrid program. It’s the southernmost autonomous community in Spain, and we visited the cities of Granada, Seville, and Córdoba. It was all unbelievable beautiful, but my favorite was La Mezquita in Córdoba. See if you can see both the Muslim and Christian influence; it was a cathedral as well as a mosque.

Portugal and Morocco July 24, 2011

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On our first weekend in Cadiz, a group of 12 of us decided to take a trip to Lisbon. We brought all of our packed bags to class that Friday and booked it to the stop right after class to catch the 1 o’clock bus (we had to take a bus to Seville in order to catch another bus to Lisbon). Upon arriving to Seville, only 4 made it to the 3 o’clock bus to Lisbon. The rest of us enjoyed the evening in Seville and caught the midnight bus to Lisbon. Seville is absolutely beautiful.

Plaza de España

Guadalquivir River

After sleeping the whole way to Lisbon, we slept some more at the station before setting off to find our hostel. We got really lost, but it let us explore the city.

Lisbon’s really hilly

When we finally did find Lisb’on Hostel, it instantly lifted our spirits and provided us with dinner and a free tour of the city – not to mention a beautiful place to stay.

 view from balcony of hostel – where we ate

I really loved Lisbon, and we had a lot of fun there. Looking back, it’s a lot like Madrid, but at the time, it was really different from what I was used to in Cádiz.

The next weekend, a group of us  took a bus to Tarifa and then a ferry to Tanger, Morocco. The first thing we did was ride camels!! Literally, the bus stopped on the side of the road:

I met the snake charmer

we ate at a Moroccan restaurant – mint tea mmmm

aaand we went to the beach!

Morocco was really fun as well; I’m really glad we went, but it was a different experience altogether. In contrast to other Muslim countries I’d been too, woman could wear whatever they wanted and many of the locals knew some English. When we first got off the bus, a local Moroccan boy ran up behind me and whispered “Miss…beautiful…you want a Moroccan husband?” haha, I couldn’t help but giggle at his English and just walked faster. Also, the peddlers were CRAZY!! Before leaving, our TA warned us not to go into any rug shops, but since we were with the tour company, we were pretty bothered. One man even insulted me in English; I think it made him feel good to insult me in my language.

Looking back now, I realize that these countries bordering Spain are worlds apart, yet the people were not so different. Living simply.

Hasta luego!

(Until next time!)