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Exchange Diaries – Mexico City

Nicola Johnson

Hola todos, Nicola has returned from Mexico City to share with us what it’s like to go on exchange in Mexico. Rest assured, many fish tacos were had during her time there.

What university did you attend?

Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico City.

What’s your favourite thing about Mexico?

The informality: you can stop in the middle of the street to ask directions, and you can always find something to eat on the footpath.

Do you speak Spanish? How’d you find speaking it there?

I arrived with a little Spanish, and now it is conversational. Speaking was usually fine, it just became a bit difficult when in a big group of Spanish speakers!

Where did you live in Mexico? Did you get along with your roommates?

In Mexico City – it has about the population of Australia. My housemates and I were like family and from all different parts of the world including Colombia, New Zealand, Germany, Spain and Australia.

How is Mexico different to Australia?

Australia is super multicultural, you can find and eat anything from anywhere. Mexico has a much more distinct culture, for example, mostly you eat Mexican food and it was very difficult to find Thai food.

What did you find strange or interesting about Mexico?

Relationships between men and women. Mexicans get into relationships very easily and they can be much more intense. One 15-year-old old boy I knew asked a girl to be his girlfriend with a microphone with all his friends, roses, chocolates and a giant teddy bear, down on one knee at lunchtime. Unfortunately, she said no…

Is university quite different there?

Yes, they have both private and public universities. While mine was a very right-wing private university, the national university was left-wing and quite socialist. I imagine the education is quite different between the two.

Was it dangerous at all? Were they any situations where you felt scared?

It is dangerous, especially off the tourist paths. Those of us on exchange were lucky to have local friends, who often told you things tourists would have a trouble knowing. There was one time in Chiapas, in the south, when a teachers demonstration was happening and the restaurant I was eating in started shutting all its doors and we left. Later we heard that they had burned all the furniture from the government building and looted a department store one block away, so I was very glad to leave that city the next day.

Highlight of your trip?

My friends and I did an 11 day road trip in Baja California in the Easter holiday week. It was 11 days of desert, beaches and fish tacos. We ended up camping on mostly deserted beaches with Mexican families, where you could buy fish straight from the fisherman on the beach. It added something special to experience.

Rapid Fire

Your favourite Spanish word?

Equis: it is a Mexican word. It’s similar to ‘no worries’.

Mexico in three words:

Colourful, informal, rich.

Your opinion of telenovelas?

Hilariously bad.

Tequila or Margarita?

Margarita.

Dreaming of days spent downing tequila and munching on delicious Mexican cuisine? Head to student.unsw.edu.au/exchange to plan your trip.

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