UQ Program: Bachelor of Arts

Mexico, Mexico, Mexico... A country that had me a wee bit scared in the months leading up to my exchange and a country that now occupies a very special place in my heart and will forever do so after the six amazing months I got to spend there studying and, more excitingly, travelling around. I am not going to lie, it was definitely worrying the thought of going to MEXICO, what with all the continual bad news that is forever circulating about the country, and in general, I think most people will agree that there isn’t the greatest picture of Mexico floating around. However, I hope that this testimony of mine, as well as those of other past, present and future students, will help to change the mindset of the general population and particularly those UQ students breaking out into a cold sweat at the thought of going there on exchange because en pocas palabras MEXICO IS AMAZING!

So what is so amazing about Mexico, you ask? Well to answer that, I will merely tell you what I have told every Mexican that has asked me the same question about their country, which is this: MEXICO HAS EVERYTHING! That is to say, it has amazing weather, an amazing culture, amazing food, an amazing history with an overload of amazing historical sites, amazing scenery, amazing beaches and of course amazing, warm and ridiculously friendly people (It’s amazingly cheap too, so for those of you on budget restrictions for your exchange, Mexico will most certainly cater to your needs in that department). Overall and most impressively though, the thing that makes Mexico so amazing is the contrast between how you expect the country to be before going there and how it actually is in reality; it really does come as a pleasant and welcoming surprise when you get there and start experiencing all of these amazing things that Mexico has to offer that really do not coincide with all the negative images existing about the country.

Of course, it would be a lie to say that Mexico isn’t a dangerous place because in reality, it very much CAN be. I use the word ‘can’ instead of ‘is’ in this case because I believe that every country has the potential to be dangerous but what it essentially comes down to is to not place yourself in situations that could amount to something dangerous happening. If you use this as a general rule of thumb in Mexico and while travelling as a tourist, you should have an amazing trip without any real problems along the way. To be specific, ask people which places you should avoid as a tourist, if the city/town in which you are staying is safe to walk around at night time, always carry your phone on you in a discrete manner, don’t make a habit of showing off expensive possessions, try to dress to fit in with the crowd, and most importantly if you have any doubts or hesitations about ANYTHING, just ask somebody about it. As I have already mentioned, Mexicans are very friendly people and I found that they were more than happy to answer a question or two... or ten.

With respect to the highlights about my exchange in Mexico, I would definitely have to say that although Mexican food was muy picante and a bit too much for my stomach to handle, I have been suffering from severe taco withdrawals since coming back to Australia and am really missing all the fresh fruit and vegies and flowers from the local markets, and not to mention how cheap everything was! (Beware: Mexico will turn you into quite the stingy person). Also, loved, loved, LOVED being able to travel all around Mexico and was also able to venture outside of the country too because, unlike our lovely island of Australia that is so far away from everything, Mexico is basically the platform to the rest of the world. The best thing is that it can be very cost affordable if you hunt around for cheap flights, as over the six months I was able to travel to Guatemala, Cuba and Argentina. Most importantly, with respect to my Spanish ability, it definitely has improved and I am able to communicate with más fluidez now than prior to going on exchange which I am really happy about. Essentially, I believe that this kind of improvement can only come from spending time in a country that speaks the language you are learning and Mexico was definitely a great place to go to learn Spanish, as Mexicans speak quite slowly and much clearer than most other Spanish-speaking countries. Thus, for those of you undecided about which country to go to, as the Mexicans would say, ‘¡Andale!’ and chose Mexico for your exchange!

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