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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Staying mentally and physically healthy while abroad

I’m about halfway through my study abroad experience and already I have learned a lot from my time in Spain, especially when it comes to my lifestyle and health. Before leaving for Spain I think I had a well balanced life, giving work, school and my health equal attention. I knew studying abroad would change my lifestyle, but I was determined to stay healthy and continue my balanced life.

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