By Rosa Dennis (Universidad de las Americas, Mexico)
After being in Mexico now for over a month, I am more than qualified to give a report about what studying in Mexico is really like. It has taken me a while to get into the swing of things here, but now I can say I am truly settled. I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like before I arrived, but somehow things do always fit into place. I live in Cholua, which is a small town 10 kilometers from a bigger city, Puebla which is the 5th largest city in Mexico. Choula revolves around my university, the Universidad de las Americas, and provides enough accommodation, bars, restaurants to keep all of the 10 000s of students happy.
The university is beautiful. It is based on a campus, which is very unlike Manchester, and has lakes, forests and even meditation gardens. This environment is a wonderful way to relax, study and enjoy the beautiful weather which Cholula has to offer. You can expect sunny days of 20 degrees or more until around 4pm, when the sky turns grey and eventually thunders and tips it down for about half an hour. This is the rainy season, however, I always get fooled by the beautiful mornings and often find myself wet and without an umbrella!
However, apart form enjoying the surroundings, I must not forget my prime purpose in Mexico – which is to study. As an Anthropology student, all forms of culture and people interest me. There are around 200 international students from all over the world, which makes lots of opportunity for socializing, chatting and understanding the differences in many university systems all over the world. This is amazing opportunity as you really can make friends with people all over the world.
Although I am only 3 weeks into my courses, I am beginning to get a feel for my classes and lecturers. I am taking 3 Anthropology modules, Historic Ethnology of Mexico, Word Ethnology and Anthropology of the Body. All are very interesting, however all are taught in Spanish. This is challenging as I have to understand an 2 and a half hour lecture on one aspect of culture, (usually Mexican) and be able to respond to questions and make comments. This is made worse by the fact that many of my lectures are in the evening! However, I am slowly getting there and feel that every class I am more confident to talk and ask questions. The style of the lectures is more informal than in Manchester; there are no lecture theatres as everything is taught in classrooms and anyone can say something or interrupt the lecture if they feel inclined. This is a really nice aspect as it takes away some of the formalities between lecturer and student as everyone’s voice is valued equally. I am also taking a Spanish For Foreigners module which should get my grammar and writing up to speed as I am expected to read and understand 80 pages of information on Mexican culture weekly!
Being in Mexico, everyone has a desire to travel and to get to know this beautiful country as much as possible, however, getting the balance between travel, study and chilling is difficult. As Mexico is a very large country, one must take a bus for at least 6 hours to get somewhere of interest. Last weekend, me and some friends went to the beach with the intention of swimming and enjoying the Pacific Coast, however we did not expect the cyclone which was also hitting the Pacific that weekend. We still had a good time, however, less beautiful than was hoped, but to expect the unexpected seams a big part of Mexican life.
I still haven’t mentioned the food! One of the most important aspects of Mexican life, and God it is tastyyyyy! As you would expect cheese and beans are thrown on everything, however it is much more diverse that the classic Tex Mex that is found in the UK. Chili is put on everything, from fruit to rice, and Mexicans do like it hot. If a Mexican says it isn’t spicy, it almost definitely will blow your brain out. Yet there are other delicacies, at the moment the Chili en Norgada is in season. This is a pepper which is filled with fruit, nuts, meat and an array of different spices, covered in a hazelnut sauce and fried. It is delicious, although super filling.
So I hope I have given you an insight on Mexican life and how I am enjoying everything so much here. In the weeks to come there are more travels, adventures and of course studying to come……Adios,y nos vemos pronto!