Friday, February 18, 2011

Catie C. - Puebla, Mexico - Spring 2011

This semester I’m studying abroad in Puebla, Mexico, a beautiful colonial town with a ton of culture. I’ve been here for about 4 weeks, and I’ve already learned more than I could have imagined. I am living in a residence hall, instead of doing a home-stay, and I definitely made the right choice for me. My roommate is from northern Mexico and she has made it her personal responsibility to see that my experience here is an unforgettable one. She invited me to stay at her house over Spring Break and already has the entire itinerary planned out. I have met so many amazing people not just from Mexico, but from Australia, Korea, Germany, and France who have made me feel so welcome. People here do not hesitate to invite you to their homes. I’ve already saved a fortune by staying with extremely generous people who provide an experience way more memorable than a hotel.

As far as my classes go, I am learning a lot. Before leaving for Mexico, I was really worried about being able to understand everything in Spanish and adequately participate, but I have had no problems. In fact, sometimes I’m the only one participating. I’m currently taking International Economics, International Business, Ethics in Economic Sciences, and Mexican Culture and Tradition, in Spanish of course. My workload is not too overwhelming. I still have plenty of time to hang out with friends, go out to clubs, and travel. I have also begun my Service Learning, which consists of teaching English at an elementary school five hours a week. The kids can be pretty tough to handle at times, but rest assured your Spanish will improve.
I would say I’ve definitely experienced culture shock, if not because of the language, then because of the extremely laid-back atmosphere here. It can be hard to transition from face-paced America to Mexico, where fast food constitutes any establishment that prepares your food in less than 30 minutes. However, there are so many awesome things to see and do here that the transition becomes easier. So far, I’ve taken a weekend trip to Mexico City, I’ve gone to see pyramids in Cholula, I’ve been to an African Safari (yes, an African Safari), and I’ve visited another state in Mexico named Tlaxcala. I plan to do a lot more traveling in the next couple months!

Every time I think about all that there is left to see and do, the months begin to shrink! I recommend planning as much as you can into your semester because the time will fly by! Also, quit worrying! Everything I previously worried about, like what to bring, making friends, or classes, ended up not being a big deal at all. Once you get here everything will fall into place.


Anonymous Emily T. said...

Catie! Your trip sounds amazing and I am glad to hear that you are having a great time. It sounds like the people and lifestyle are really laid back. Thanks for your advice on traveling abroad and enjoy the rest of your trip and stay safe.


3:18 PM  
Anonymous Angela Crawford said...

It sounds like you are having a blast! It's so great that your roommate is taking you under her wing,and making your experience wonderful. How are you keeping up academically, are you enjoying your classes?
Angela Crawford

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Megan Leonardo said...


How are you!? Glad to hear your trip is going so well! I was wondering if you could tell me a little more on your own culture shock. Hope your having fun!

-Megan L- :)

10:15 PM  
Anonymous Catie said...

Thanks, Emily!! Good luck with the rest of your class/semester :)

Hey Angela! As far as classes go, they are actually pretty easy. The homework load is definitely managable. Also, your US work mentality will set you apart from the rest. Oddly enough, here they announce the grades in front of the entire class, and my friend from Tennessee and I have the highest grades of anyone in all of our classes. Anyway, I'm learning a lot and I especially love my culture class because we get to investigate diferent places in Mexico. I wouldn't worry about keeping up at all! You'll be great :)

Hola Megan! I'm doing great! One of the hardest things to deal with here in terms of culture shock is the fact that the Mexican people can be very upfront and blatant. For example, if someone is overweight they are made aware of it, and it's the same if you make a mistake in Spanish, or if your hair doesn't look so great. I know, it seems incredibly rude, but apparently here it's acceptable. It has actually been really frustrating because well, I don't know anyone who appreciates being told those kinds of things. However, you just have to try and look at it from their perspective because their intentions are not to make you feel bad. They simply have a rather observant culture.

3:13 PM  

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