Study Abroad in Cusco, Peru

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Remember the Emperor’s New Groove? Emperor Kuzco turned into a llama? I digress, but Cusco is indeed our next destination! Originally the capital of the Incan Empire and located in the Southern Sierras, Cusco is a Unesco World Heritage site that is also the largest and most comfortable city to live in in Peru.

Photo credit: sergejf.

From this point, students can easily reach Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley of the Incas and the ruins of Sacsayhuaman. A beautiful city that is well preserved in its colonial architecture, Cusco is a gold mine of the indigenous Quechua culture that is still modern enough to be a city to comfortably live in. Spanish colonial buildings are erected directly atop old Incan walls; in essence, Cusco is a picturesque city that offers an extremely rich history that can appeal to anyone.

Cusco offers many ancient and colonial attractions to see. Just taking a stroll around the city itself would be enough to take up the majority of your days!

Museo del Centro de Textiles Tradicionales de Cusco

Your obligatory museum visit in Cusco is… not your usual one. Instead of your usual ancient artifacts and modern art exhibits, this museum, inside El Centro’s textile store, is more specific in that, as you can probably guess, it is filled with the textiles of traditional Quechuan and Andean work. It’s also free! Considered a must-see by most, the textile is of fantastic quality, and is certainly a place where you won’t regret spending your money.

Qurikancha

The sun temple was the central site of worship for Incas. Unfortunately, it was severely destroyed by the conquistadors, the Spanish conquerors. However, the bottom of the ruins has been fairly well preserved, and is definitely still worth a few hours of your day. Containing Catholic and Incan heritage, the sun temple offers stunning views of the surrounding areas.

San Pedro Market

This is one market you might find yourself at more than once. Flamboyant, vivacious and quite crowded, the market is run by Peruvians for Peruvians. Because it’s not aimed at tourists, you can go through the market without being heckled by the local vendors here unlike…

Plaza de Armas

Churches, shops, restaurants and bars line this area in Cusco and is a great way to spend the afternoon(s). Street vendors of various goods and artists with their cheap painting fill this area, so you will have to deal with them, but the historical center is quite nice.

Sapo

Play the traditional bar game of Peru! In essence, you throw coins at a table with a bronze sapo (toad) attached to it. Points are awarded for making it into the holes in the table with extra points for getting it into the toad’s mouth. This is a great way to bond with locals, as the throwing technique can be a bit tough to grasp.

Affordability

The Peruvian Nuevo Sol is the currency of Cusco. In general, the further away you get from the city center (where the tourists generally flock) the cheaper it becomes. However, Cusco is a cheap place to live in anyway. You shouldn’t have any problems with money than you would in any other city you’d study abroad in (in fact you should find yourself surprised at how cheap everything is that you buy). In terms of getting money, there are ATMs all over Cusco, so you shouldn’t have a problem with that as well (though be sure to get money from the ATMs inside the banks for safety reasons).

The woes of being a student, it is hard to come by money at times. Here's a list of scholarships to choose from!

Living in Cusco can be a rewarding experience, but it is also a completely new one. Halfway down the world, Cusco can be quite a daunting experience for a new traveler studying abroad from America. If you believe culture shock may be a problem, be sure to find a program that really caters to American students so that you can be helped in English.

However, remember that you have your fellow students! If you’re missing the long hours of studying and the obnoxiously loud people back in the US, well, then you’re weird. On a more serious note, talk to your fellow peers! If you’re experiencing some homesickness, there is every chance that they are as well. Don’t be embarrassed if you need to talk to someone about home, it is completely normal and who knows, you may become even closer friends.

Insider Tips

Getting around in Cusco is quite cheap (unlike London) and easy. Taxis are the most common way and are very cheap. Do be careful when traveling at night because robberies have been reported. In addition, get used to haggling the price down or else taxi drivers will take advantage of you by extorting larger sums for the pay fare. Since you’ll be studying there for a while, the Combis are a cheap and reliable way to get around. They are Volkswagen vans and small buses that only cost 60 centimos to ride. Ask if you’re unsure where the Combis is taking you and yell “Baja” when you want to get off. They are generally packed, so remember to carry your backpack in front of you.

If you’re feeling adventurous, Cusco offers paragliding and white-water rafting. The sacred valley offers beautiful scenery for paragliding over, and the Chuqicahuana or Cusipata sections of the Rio Urubamba/Vilcanota offers outstanding fun for white-water rafters.

Conclusion

Overall, Cusco is a city that is rich in history and is the center of all things Inca. So, get going! Machu Picchu is waiting.

Contributed by Albert Ji

Showing 18 Programs

Peru

Rustic Pathways
Leader Corps is a groundbreaking three-week advanced leadership program in Peru that blends professional development and purp...

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Eurocentres
We are an intentionally small operation located in the heart of Cusco, providing a professional yet friendly experience. Asid...

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Athena Study Abroad
Athena's Cusco, Peru program follows in line with Athena's mission of providing personalized study abroad. This program is pe...

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ISA (International Studies Abroad)
Spend next semester or summer abroad in Cusco, Peru at the Universidad de Salamanca Cursos Internacionales en Cusco! This pro...

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SIT Study Abroad
Examine traditional and contemporary societies in Peru, home to one of the largest indigenous populations in the Americas. To...

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CISabroad
Travel to Cusco, the beautiful and mountainous Peruvian city that sits at 11,500 feet above sea level. A historic and cultura...

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CISabroad
Are you ready for a summer like no other in the Andes? On our Summer in Peru program, you’ll live and study in Qos’o, the Que...

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Linguistic Horizons
This is a truly unique opportunity to learn about nutrition and alternative medicine in the Andes. You will learn from a vari...

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COINED International
With glaciers on one side and Caribbean beaches on the other, not to mention grassy plains, snowy peaks, deserts, salt flats...

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Trilogía Spanish School
During the week you can study your Spanish program and on the weekends you can explore the region of Cusco and places close t...

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Academic Studies Abroad
ASA's program in Cuzco is near the Andes mountains, Cuzco is the original home of the Inca Empire. The undisputed archaeologi...

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Apulaya - Center for Andean Culture
Access the indigenous Science, Art and Philosophy of the Andean Civilizations, gain cross-cultural understanding! Apulaya – C...

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KEI Abroad
Go study abroad in Peru with the Knowledge Exchange Institute (KEI) at the Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola (USIL). Fall and...

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Field School Program in Peru
We have about 7 courses to choose from that encompasses a with a wide variety of majors. Students will be able to be a part o...

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Human Connections
Human Connections is a non-profit organization founded on the notion that seeing the world from diverse perspectives inspires...