Mexico is as gringos always imagine it to be in Guadalajara: Mexico's second largest city is home to mariachi music and the dance Jarabe tapatio. Lea Nönninger, bachelor’s student in “International Tourism Management”, wanted to see Guadalajara for herself during her semester abroad at the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey. In this study abroad experience report, she gives you an overview for studying at the "seventh best business school in the world" (Wall Street Journal/2006).
"The Tec Campus is a paradise! There are all kinds of sports, music and cultural programmes you can participate in. You can also use a large swimming pool, a gym and various football fields. I quickly got to know people at the Tec, as parties and other events for internationals were often planned.”
"As for traveling, I couldn't have made a better choice for my semester abroad. Even though I was always very busy during the semester, I went on an excursion almost every weekend. Mexico is an incredibly diverse country, from jungle and green forests to Caribbean dream beaches and lots of adventure and action. Guadalajara is also a good base to go on excursions, as there are interesting destinations in the surrounding area.”
"I found out about the organisation "Integrate" through a friend of mine, which not only rents out houses for international students in Mexico, but also offers various events and trips. I immediately registered for a room in one of the houses in Guadalajara and within two days I was assured accommodation. It is great that there is such an organisation for internationals in Mexico!"
"Mexicans are very warm, open and helpful people. You will definitely make friends quickly, but for the love of the Mexican culture you should drink some tequila.”
"I was surprised that about 80 % of the internationals were German. Nevertheless, I had the opportunity to meet students of other nationalities."
"Studying at the Tec took some time to get used to because it differs greatly from studying at the CBS. The semester is very labour-intensive: I constantly had homework, assignments or presentations to prepare. I had two partial exams and a final exam in each subject so that I was constantly in the exam phase. However, I had to study less for the exams, as I already had a good command of the learning material through the assignments and homework. In addition, the Tec has the special regulation that a subject with 70 % of exams passed is already credited.”
The character of Mexican food is: spicy, contains tortilla and ... oh yes it is spicy. Really spicy.
For me that didn't pose a big problem because I love spicy food and was used to it, but with this preference I found myself relatively alone among the foreigners living there.
Fortunately, there is usually the possibility to mention that you don't like to eat spicy food or to choose between sauces, which are also served with a reference to the different degrees of hotness.
But if you now think that Mexico only has the culinary diversity of its chilies to shine with, you are fundamentally wrong. The dishes in Mexico are totally regional. Almost every state I visited has its own specialties. In Puebla (my university town) "Chile en nogada" is a typical dish. A cooked chili (so, not too hot anymore) filled with potatoes, minced meat, apples and many other incredibly well combined contents, covered with a sweet walnut sauce and sprinkled with fruity pomegranate seeds and coriander. Maybe you've already noticed - Yes, I love this dish!!! And not only this one!
For those who like to try something new and appreciate the variety of regional cuisine, Mexico is a paradise. For everyone else; there are tacos everywhere.
Pueblos Mágicos are spread all over Mexico and are a really good guide for making decisions when it comes to travel.
During the semester there were offers from Mexican tour operators that focus on students. Most of the time, the tour operators were former students and also the owners of the shared flats. At the house parties you got to know most of them relatively quickly and therefore you always had different possibilities to visit places worth seeing in Mexico without even lifting a finger. This is a very convenient option and of course a little more expensive than taking care of the organisation yourself, but it is worth it. Usually the tour operators visited the same attractions with up to two large vehicles, which allowed you to get to know many people quite quickly.. Bus journeys of partly up to 15 hours in order to get to, for example, the beautiful beaches of Puerto Escondido, are only half as painful then.
Mexico also has an excellent bus system with buses that offer more legroom than a premium seat in the economy class of an airplane.If you're not sure whether I meant the right thing when I wrote “alone”: Yes. I travelled alone through Mexico. After my last exam was written, I set off from central Mexico to the east coast of Cancún. The journey began with a very good friend from home and led us first through the breathtaking Canyon Sumidero and several waterfalls near the beautiful city of San Cristobal in Chiapas, over the jungle and ruins of the Mayan city of Palenque to the white sandy beaches of Tulum. From there on I was on my own for the first time and I have to say that this was more relaxed than I had imagined. Especially in the states Yucatan and Quintana Roo there were many young travelers who had similar routes and so it was almost certain that your next destination would be a meeting point.
Many of the people I talked to had previously raved about Tulum, but for me personally it was not one of my top destinations. It's already very touristy there and doesn't really resemble the Mexico I got to know before.
Therefore, after a detour to the border of Belize, I traveled into the country again and finally to a beautiful artist island near Cancún. There I used my last days to review the months that had passed and to enjoy the sun and the sea one last time before I had to go back to cold Germany shortly before Christmas.
"I had an unforgettable semester abroad in Guadalajara and went back to Germany with many wonderful memories. I got to know great people and gained many new experiences. I would spend my semester abroad in Mexico again anytime!"
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