Bachelor of International Studies, 3rd year
Bachelor of International Studies, 3rd year

Academic Experience

In my exchange semester, I studied in Mexico City at Tecnologico de Monterrey, known to locals simply as Tec. The university, although considered huge for all my European friends, was quite small compared to UQ, on an organised, green and leafy campus in the south of the city. I took 5 subjects as taking a Spanish language course counted for double credits. Unfortunately I had some issues with timetabling so I ended up taking quite unrelated courses to what I study, but I had saved up my electives so it didn't matter too much and it was fun to study something quite different. I took Philosophy and Contemporary Thought, Literature of the World, Literature and Contemporary Society, Corporate Sustainable Responsibility, and Advanced Spanish.

I found the learning system to be very different than in Australia. There were three major partial assessment items during the semester, but almost every class there would be a small presentation, journal or homework task that counted towards the final grade. There was also a limited number of absences that you were allowed for each subject, and more than that would mean an immediate fail. Furthermore, the students all referred to the teacher as "teacher" which maintained quite distinct and formal roles. Initially this took some getting used to as I felt treated much more like a child or a school student than an adult.

Personal Experience

My time in Mexico was incredible and something I will always be able to remember and cherish. I made some wonderful friends who I am sure I will be able to visit sometime in the future, and got to experience not just one new culture whilst living in Mexico but many new cultures from my friends all over the world. I also got to travel a lot on the weekends, Mexico City is a great base to travel from and flights or buses inside the country are quite cheap. I visited many incredible places, from mountains to beaches, cathedrals to ancient ruins, jungles to the desert.

Accommodation

I lived off-campus in a share house with five other exchange students which I found on the list provided by Tec. Most exchange students also lived in similar arrangements, I found it to be really enjoyable and my housemates were some of my closest friends on exchange. As the campus is quite far from the city center and areas where there are lots of cafes, restaurants and nightlife, the transport time to get into the city was quite long. However, for me it was preferable to live walking distance to uni rather than the hour or more commute my friends in other parts of the city faced to and from school each day.

Budget

While Mexico is a very cheap country, Mexico City is considerably more expensive than other cities or areas in Mexico. However, it is still much cheaper for living costs than Australia. My rent was approximately $300 a month, for a room with a private bathroom. Food and groceries are fairly cheap, and eating a cheap and quick meal from a local restaurant or some street food will only set you back a couple of dollars.

Professional Development & Employability

During my exchange, I had the chance to practice and improve my Spanish, and whilst travelling in Latin America afterwards I hope to keep improving. Going on exchange requires you to be flexible, ready to adapt quickly and happy to take on new challenges, all of which are traits admired by employers.

Highlights

The food, the culture, and meeting so many interesting and new people was incredible but for me the highlight of my exchange was definitely the chance to travel to so many incredible new places inside Mexico. I feel as though I really made the most of my time there to try and see many different places and their own individual cultures and way of life, and to really get to understand the country.

Top Tips

My main advice would be just to go! Don't stress too much about your study plan and organising everything before you leave, it will all be easy to sort out once you are there, especially things like housing or accommodation.

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