[Becky Williams | Contributing Writer]
I am spending my third year of study in Mexico, in the historic city of Querétaro, at the Tecnológico de Monterrey. It is one of the best universities in Mexico and is in the top 10 in Latin America, specialising in engineering, agriculture and communication studies. My degree at Herts is psychology, and this year was a chance to expand my knowledge. For example, I studied philosophy, social anthropology and history of Latin America.
The campus also offers many cultural classes which are free to Tec students, and range from sports classes, to cultural classes such salsa and bachata, oil painting, tango, guitar and more! I took a salsa class during Semester A and it was really fun, I learned a lot very quickly and we performed along with other dance classes at the end of the semester. This semester I am taking other classes such as guitar and yoga.
In general, the experience is like a rollercoaster ride, a mixture of rich cultural experiences and meeting interesting people from all over the world. You will have the opportunity to take an internship with a Mexican business or organisation. This semester I am interning with an organisation called ‘Fundacion Integral de la Mujer’, which is based in the city centre and works with young women who have left their education very early, for various reasons, and who want to get back into education to improve their opportunities. My assignment is to teach them basic operations on a computer, and of course I have to speak in Spanish! It is a challenge, but definitely a rewarding and worthwhile experience.
Last semester I lived with a host family, who prepared traditional Mexican food and only spoke in Spanish to me, which accelerated the learning curve. They were very welcoming and happy to sit and talk about things which interested us, and we got on very well. This semester I am living in a houseshare with one of the friends I made last semester, and another student whose family owns the house. It is more independent and relaxed, and generally those who share apartments are closer to the campus.
All of this is only a tiny fraction of the study abroad experience – I have travelled as much as possible and I aim to see as much of Mexico as possible before I go back. I have visited the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan, which were fascinating and revealed an amazing view from the top. I have been white water rafting in the stunning jungle region of Huasteca, and we had an adventure when our raft flipped over! Of course we had life jackets and the route wasn’t especially treacherous – but it was definitely a heart-pumper! And then to be taken to a small jutting rock and jump freely into the rushing water – was an unforgettable experience. I have also travelled with friends to the region of Sierra Gorda, an area of amazing mountains and waterfalls just outside of the city. We rented quad bikes and drove through the scenic valley to the Bucareli mission – a sanctuary set up by Franciscan monks during the 1700s to try and convert the indigenous people, the Aztecs, to Christianity.
Overall, this experience has been enriching, fun and entirely unforgettable – it has changed my character and will stay with me for life. If you’re studying abroad this year and would like to blog for us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.