[The following Guest Post should be of interest to many]
After hearing about the possibility to study Geography abroad in a place like Mexico, I jumped at the chance. I visited the international office, read some of the literature about the course on offer, visa requirements etc. I did some other basic research and then decided this was the place for me… and I was not wrong!
Following an emotional “Adios” to all my friends and family at the Airport, I was on my way. I had all I needed: visa, passport, funds.
Arriving in Mexico City was a daunting experience to say the least. Having travelled before I was well prepared for what this adventure was going to throw at me, but even so Mexico City can be an overwhelming place. The City is a dynamic metropolis of 20 million people going about their business and it took me a couple of days to acclimatize to the heat, smells, noise and general hustle and bustle of the streets of Mexico.
The college itself, Universidad de Guadalajara, is based in the city of Guadalajara (about 6 hours by bus North West of Mexico City), a big city with colonial architecture and a diverse population. On my first day in the college I met a lot of international students, people from all over the world. There where students from Korea, Japan, Germany, Australia, England and many others from different parts of Latin America. The college is very big and is divided into six or seven big campuses spread out around the city. You are made to feel very welcome from the moment you arrive and there is a good student support network in place. The city has a large student population with many bars, restaurants and clubs. After an initial settling-in period, I began to get to grip with this new culture, the spicy food and the language. And then the fun began!
There are excellent opportunities to travel and see the country on a tight student budget. Many natural wonders are within easy reach of Guadalajara: giant waterfalls, volcanoes, deserts, beautiful coast line, rivers, ancient ruins and cenotes… Mexico has a bit of everything for the geographer in us all.
Of course, as with anything in life, all is not 100% positive. You will encounter poverty, diverse social issues, and you will experience a very different way of life in Mexico. You will most probably experience a little home sickness too… but above all the experience will make you grow as a person and give you a great insight into the lives of others. Mexico has opened my eyes to many different ways of life. But I can honestly say the positives far outweigh the negatives in a location such as this. Mexicans are very hospitable and their ability to throw some incredible ‘fiestas’ is a definite positive. This can really help when things get a bit much… Enjoying this year abroad is what it is all about.
Mexico is an amazing diverse country and it has some of the most welcoming people in the world. I would highly recommend this study abroad opportunity to anyone seeking adventure. It has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study in Mexico. If this is opportunity ever comes your way, make the most of it and snap it up. Learning a new language is a great experience and doing so in a foreign place like Mexico is the way to do it. It is an excellent destination and should not be overlooked.
(3rd yr student, 2012-13)