Although I talked about it a bit in my intro post, I figured that I could blog a bit more about my experience abroad last spring. From January to May of 2014, I spent five months living, studying, and traveling in the beautiful country of Mexico. I lived in the city of Queretaro, which is about three hours north of Mexico City, putting me right in the center of the country. The central region is one of the most culturally diverse and safe regions of the country. In these five months, I learned and experienced many incredible things, and the memories will stay with me until the day I die.
I chose to study abroad in Mexico mainly because I’m minoring in Spanish and I wanted to become as fluent as possible, but also because Mexico is an incredibly diverse country with an incredible history, diverse landscapes, and awesome food and culture. While in Mexico, I studied at Tec de Monterrey Campus Queretaro, which is one of the top universities in Mexico. While my courses there were mostly directed towards my Spanish minor and not my NRES major (and also entirely in Spanish), I gained a new perspective an insight on environmental issues and conservation through my daily life and travels. Mexico was much more environmentally conscious as a society than I thought they would be. Recycling and composting were relatively common, and there are a lot of grassroots conservation efforts throughout the country. I got to experience some incredible natural wonders that the country has to offer, which I’ll show off more in pictures later.
I also grew and strengthened a lot of job-applicable skills in my time in Mexico as well. Aside from learning Spanish, my confidence, communication skills, and flexibility improved greatly. When you’re in a foreign country and trying to do something as simple as get a taxi in a different language, you have to keep trying and communicating to get a mutual understanding between both parties. Compared to difficulties such as this, things like an interview in English will seem like a breeze. I also gained a new appreciation for Mexico. As Americans, we have a huge influence from the culture and people of Mexico living within our borders, but we know very little about the country and its people. I now have the ability to connect much more deeply to a large portion of the US population and understand their country’s problems and points of pride. It’s hard to be close-minded when you live in another country.
Finally, I got to experience some incredible places and things. I took the opportunity to travel often. Mexico is a gorgeous country where ancient traditions meet up with modern ways of life. In my travels, I got to do incredible things like climb the largest pyramid outside of Egypt, snorkel in coral reefs in the Caribbean, and explore vibrant and pulsating cities full of energy. Purdue has a fantastic study abroad program, and I cannot stress enough how great of an experience it is. It doesn’t matter where you study abroad, just do it. Going for an entire semester was incredible, but even if you can only go on a spring break trip, it would still be worth all of the time and money. And with Purdue giving out thousands of dollars in travel grants to its study abroad students, studying abroad has never been more affordable. Take the opportunity to travel while you can. You will never regret it!
Cathedral in my host city of Queretaro
Aztec Sun Calendar in the Anthropology Museum in Mexico City
The back of a humpback whale in the Pacific Ocean
Snorkeling through a cave to get to a hidden beach in the middle of an island in the Pacific ocean
At the top of the tallest pyramid in the Americas, the Pyramid of the Sun at the city of Teotihuacan
Underneath a waterfall at the Sierra Gorda Biosphere reserve in the mountain forests of the state of Queretaro
Only a few of thousands of monarch butterflies at their winter home way up in the mountains of central Mexico
Fish in the coral reef of the Caribbean coast of Mexico
A 12-foot crocodile in the marshes right off of the Pacific coast in the state of Oaxaca
A flock of flamingos in a lagoon in the Yucatan
Overlooking the colonial city of Guanajuato at night