Well I can start off by saying that for my exchange abroad in Mexico I nearly had to be dragged kicking and screaming on to the plane to return home to Australia – I didn’t want to leave at all! And now that I’m back I keep thinking about my other home in Mexico and all the friends which I have left behind. It was a truly unforgettable experience. I went on exchange in my third year of a BA degree, majoring in Spanish and Geography. I had completed all of the Geography parts of my degree, so only needed to take Spanish subjects and electives. That’s one thing I would say – if you possibly can, save all your electives for your exchange, because it makes it a lot easier and a lot more fun when you can choose to study whatever you want in your new university. The academic experience at UDLAP was fantastic if you were totally not interested in studying and wanted to explore Mexico (like me!). I chose to use my electives in Spanish as a second language subjects and an ‘Internship’, which allowed me a lot of free time and the chance to work with indigenous rural communities in the north of the state of Puebla.

Another note on the location of UDLAP – at the end of my exchange we met a number of other exchange students from other universities in Mexico and many of them commented on the bad location of their universities and the boring campuses. I found UDLAP to be perfectly located, you can get a bus from there to just about anywhere in Mexico, and the campus is really beautiful and safe. Whilst there I lived in dormitories on campus – another thing I would recommend you do. I lived with 4 mexicans and an American, and the chance to speak Spanish everyday was extremely useful – a lot of other international students didn’t have Mexican flatmates which limited their Spanish speaking time! One of my Mexican flatmates invited me down twice to visit her family in Chiapas, which was really amazing because I got to experience full on Mexican hospitality (which is incredible) and see other parts of Mexico with locals.

Some quick tips that I think are important: Puebla is actually cold and rains a LOT so pack some jumpers, boots and rain stuff! Do an internship because it gets you out of the classroom and to see other socio-economic groups in Mexico – UDLAP is a very rich university and so the students mostly come from very wealthy families, so you may find yourself surrounded by ‘fresas’. Live in the dorms, because even though you may find some of their customs totally weird, it is a fantastic way to learn colloquial Spanish and forge real Mexican friendships. Eat as many tacos as you possibly can. And finally, visit as many places as you can because the time goes by so fast and there are so many different places to see!

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