Mexico: Food & Culture

It’s been exactly a month since I first arrived in Mexico and I can’t help but think it has gone by way too fast. In the short span of 4 weeks, I have settled into my new home in Puebla, Mexico, adjusted to having roommates for the first time, met amazing new friends, tried new food and traveled to various cities around Mexico, on top of keeping up with my classes! 

I couldn’t be happier with choosing Mexico as my destination for the semester. As a Mexican-American, I didn’t experience much culture shock. As I’m fluent in Spanish, there was no language barrier but I have come across many differences including accents, and slang that I’m not familiar with. Taking classes in Spanish has proven to be a bit more difficult than I had anticipated but its something that I’m glad I’m working on.

My favorite part of being here has definitely been the food. I’ve discovered plenty of amazing Mexican food that I hadn’t heard of and I already know it’s something I will truly miss, once the semester is over.

One of my first trips was to Tepoztlan, which is a town that’s famous for having a pyramid on a clifftop above the town. The goal was to hike up to reach the pyramid. It was a short but strenuous hike but it was worth it. Sitting at the very top was the pyramid, where many sat down to rest and regain energy for the way back, while also taking in the amazing views of the town below.

Tepoztlán: Pueblo Magico. The mountain I hiked pictured in the background.

I also got to experience a traditional carnival that happens once a year in Cuernavaca. The whole town takes part in this event and gets together to dress up as “Chinelos,” which is the blend of Indigenous and Catholic traditions for Independence Day celebrations.

Locals started gathering as early as 10am until dark, to celebrate and dance. The city blocks where full of locals in colorful costumes, and there was music, and street vendors everywhere. Something I learned is how many states throughout Mexico have their own festivals and how each state has their own colors when it comes to their costumes.

Puerto Vallarta y Sayulita!

Sayulita was very small but full of color and the best way to describe it is a “hippie surf town.” Here I got to surf, eat lots of seafood including shrimp tacos and aguachiles, and enjoy the warm weather lounging at the beach.

In Puerto Vallarta, I was surrounded by amazing views. The scenery was incredible – picture bright green palm trees everywhere. The beaches were lined by tropical jungles and the water was clear and warm. Being there made me think of home and how much I’ve taken having the beach close by for granted. Although I’m having the time of my life in Puebla and I’m definitely not ready to go back home, I do miss the beach at times, so it was a nice weekend getaway.

My time here has been amazing so far and although it has only been a month, I know that the semester will fly by. I already have more trips planned and I can’t wait to update on my upcoming adventures here in Mexico!

Hola! – Special field trip to Mexico

It’s been two months since I arrived in San Diego, and almost everything is settled. There are still a bunch of fresh and interesting activities that I’ve never tried before in Taiwan, which always reminds me to explore, experience, and cherish more here in the following 80 days.

I enroll in Global Sustainable Tourism Management (RTM 470) in SDSU this semester. The focus of this course, sustainability, is different from my major, business, and I have never engaged in this kind of topic before. Therefore, it’s a perfect opportunity for me to learn about tourism and sustainability in the course. Last week we went on a field trip to Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California, Mexico for four days to visit some wineries and hotels and to interview the locals about their opinions of the tourism in Valle de Guadalupe.

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The distance of 10000 km

Ten-thousand kilometers. That’s the distance from my hometown- Taipei to here- San Diego. To reintroduce myself, my name is Kiki, and I’m from Taiwan. It’s my first time to leave my home city to study, and also my first time to study abroad. The distance from Taipei to here isn’t just literally 10,000 kilometers, but also the large cultural differences between West and East. So it’s a little bit challenging for me to study here. But I’m all ready to take on that challenge. It has been approximately one week since I got here, and just in this one week, I faced many eye-opening experiences that not so usually, or never happened in Taiwan, and I’m gonna share with you guys in the following!

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Four Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming an International Student

Making your first step onto campus during your freshman year in a different country can bring a mixed big of emotions.

One moment you could be feeling the rush of adrenaline as you meet new people at the dorms, feeling the warmth of a firm handshake or a welcoming smile from professors and peers. Next moment, you could be feeling a gush of loneliness filling your stomach in despair, unsure of how to cope in an environment so alien to each of your senses — thousands of miles away from familiarity.

It’s not easy.

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Practicing My Faith While Abroad

Today I rejoice in the first homily in Mexico that I could actually understand — it was about love being more important than power — and the first two Bible readings I was able to recognize during Mass. It was a neat outdoor church with a roof — una iglesia abierta, I was told — and we attributed the clarity of the priest’s voice to the absence of walls. It was a nice change from the other churches, whose roaring fans and echoes from the microphone were a recipe for frustration and not registering anything the priests or speakers had to say.

Before my trip, I had in my mind a specific pattern of practicing my religion while in Mexico. I would attend a Catholic university, so I would go to Mass everyday before class and I would check the Adoration and Confession schedules to try to make it to each at least once. Since Mexican towns have churches like a centipede has legs, I would have no problem finding Mass on Sunday, and my host family would take me.

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Me Encanta la Cultura de Mérida (I Love the Culture of Mérida)

Seven days and 24 picaduras (mosquito bites) later, I have fallen completely in love with El Centro, the main happening place in Mérida, Mexico.

Mérida has a culture of its own, symbolized by the white fabric and embroidered flowers of vibrant colors that make up the traditional dress. El Centro is kind of the downtown equivalent of Mérida, but instead of consisting of tall flashy buildings it features a spacious plaza and several street vendors and tienditas (shops) alongside where you can buy clothes and food, rent cars or un paseo by horse-drawn carriage — lo que quieras.

I have decided that if I ever move to México I want to live in El Centro and run a tiendita on the corner, decked out in beautiful Meridan flowers.

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Of Bad Days and Unexpected Culture Shocks

“Positivity all the time is kind of unrealistic,” said my friend while we were chatting about my experiences here in Mexico. I wholeheartedly agree. We are constantly told to maintain a positive attitude and be optimistic and that we will have a blast on study abroad. But we should remember that we are also human beings who have real emotions that should be addressed.

If I were to provide a bit of advice about study abroad, I would say to be honest with yourself. You are the most knowledgeable person about your own emotional state and needs. If you are having a bad day, acknowledge it. You don’t have to break down and cry if you don’t want to, but it’s not the end of the world if you do.

The truth is that bad days do happen — even in other countries.

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Don’t Even Try to Escape the World Cup

Let me start off by mentioning that the country that I am living in (Ecuador) did not qualify for this year’s World Cup. That being said, talk of soccer is still heavily present in every conversation and every inch of this country. If there’s not a game being played at the time, there will be conversations surrounding yesterday’s unbelievable game, or the anticipation for tomorrow’s game.

Got somewhere to go? You don’t even have to worry about missing the game when you leave the house, because it will be broadcasted on the radio in the car on your way over. And I can say with certainty that it is being shown at your destination. If there is a television showing the World Cup, you will find people flocking to watch, even if they are not customers. Everyone is invited to take part. And surprisingly, I have never seen anyone turned away from watching even without a purchase.

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