Hi! My name is Aela, I’m 19, from the United States, and I’m super excited to go on the April trip to Peru. I decided to take a gap year between high school and college to take a little break from the stresses of school and because I haven’t really gotten a chance to do that much traveling. So far during this year, I have been working in order to raise money for this trip (and I also did a Go Fund Me) as well as volunteering at a Fair Trade store. A lot of our products come from Peru, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to travel there specifically. Also, I live in Illinois, which is super flat, and I’m so excited to see mountains! I decided on The Leap specifically because, having not done that much solo traveling, I wanted a program that allowed for some independence, but also provided a lot of support. Everyone has been so friendly and flexible and answered all my questions, and they offered a lot for a very reasonable price.

I have been studying Spanish for more than 10 years (I was in an immersion program at school), but I have never been to a Spanish speaking country before, so I’m really looking forward to improving my skills and learning even more. I’m also looking forward to meeting everyone, both in the group and Peruvians, and learning about their lives (and to try all the food. I love trying new foods). I’m nervous because I don’t really know quite what to expect, but it’s a good, excited kind of nervous.

I’m still in the throes of trying to figure out what to pack, but my best advice would be to do a lot of research to get the best quality gear you can that doesn’t cost your life savings (I bought a pair of hiking boots that were technically “last seasons” style and they cost about half as much as the store I tried them on at).

After I get back from Peru, I will be going to college, where I’m thinking about studying English and Anthropology.