STUDY ABROAD STORIES: MEXICO
Patrick

Testimonial from VU student Patrick Sullivan. Patrick participated in the Puebla study abroad program during spring semester 2007.
"Leaving for Mexico was the first time I had ever been leaving the United States. I was nervous and scared when I arrived at Universidad de las Americas in Puebla, but those feelings quickly disappeared. I met most of my roommates the first night I arrived on campus, and they became my best friends. They didn't give me a minute to miss home. I was always hanging out with them, whether it was to watch a soccer or baseball game, getting food, going to a dance club, or even just making conversation in the dorms. On the weekends, I would go on trips around Mexico with other Valpo students. The trips were phenomenal; climbing the pyramids at Teotihuacan, or walking through Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera's studios; or going through the mangroves in Veracruz. It wasn't even that I had to leave Puebla to find interesting sites, though. I spent a lot of time walking around the town, finding different restaurants and discovering historically significant places. The zocolos, or town centers, were also great places to go with friends on a free night. There was usually some type of show or dance which was put on in the center, which is surrounded by spectacular restaurants to eat at. The experiences I had and the friendships I made there are things I will never forget. I still speak with my roommates frequently, and I hope to plan a trip down there soon to see them again. To be honest, one semester was not enough for me. I still feel that there is so much more that I want to experience in Mexico."
  ~ Patrick Sullivan


Ani

Testimonial from VU student Anni Metz. Anni participated in the Puebla study abroad program during spring semester 2007. "My semester at the UDLA is not something I'll forget quickly. The UDLA is an excellent university to attend. As there are hundreds of international students on campus every semester, you'll have theopportunity to get to know people from all over the world, not to mention becoming friends with your Mexican roommates and their friends on campus. Taking Spanish classes in a Spanish-speaking country is an excellent way to learn the ins and outs of the language: whether you're taking a class on grammar, culture, or business, you are able to see or observe everything you're learning in the classroom in your daily life, in restaurants, at archeological sites, shopping at the market, or just overheard in conversations on campus.

Immediately upon arriving in Mexico, I fell in love with the food. You're given the option of eating on campus, but there are also multitudes of restaurants within walking distance of campus t hat Ifrequented during my semester in Puebla. Not only was I feasting on tacos and fajitas and fresh fruit on an almost daily basis, but there were also options for Lebanese kabobs, Mongolian barbecue, falafel, bagels, and hamburgers. Another aspect of Mexico that I loved was the constant sunshine. If you've ever gotten tired of gloomy winters in Valpo, Mexico is a great escape! Until the rainy season starts at the beginning of May, the sun literally shines all seven days of the week. You can take great advantage of this excellent weather at the pool located on the UDLA's campus. You'll never be bored on this campus, as there are tons of birds, peacocks, and ducks to keep you entertained on a regular basis. And the architecture is amazing!

There are also so many opportunities to travel in Mexico. Whether it be with the VU group, with other international students on trips planned by la Oficina de Asuntos Internacionales, or with one of your roommates, there are always tons of places to go and things to see. A weekend in Mexico DF with one of my roommates, visiting with her family and attending a soccer game at the UNAM, was one highlight, as was planning a trip during Semana Santa (Mexico's spring break) and riding on a bus for 15 hours with my friends to spend eight days on the beach. Mexico is filled with archeological sites, from the gigantic pyramids of Teotihuacan to smaller sites in the middle of Mexico DF, to the Cholula pyramid just six blocks from campus, you'll never get bored of climbing ancient pyramids. There's so much to see and do in Central Mexico, it's unlikely you will ever get bored during your semester in Cholula." ~ Anni Metz


Testimonial from VU student Brenda Moechoe. Brenda participated in the Puebla study abroad program during spring semester 2007. "I would say that out of the many students who have been to Mexico, I probably had one of the most unique experiences of them all. I only had a chance to enjoy Mexico for my first month there, and then I was hospitalized for two and a half weeks. However, as bad as my experience may sound, I would gladly go back today if I had the chance.

Before going to Mexico, we heard from many people that Universidad de Las Americas (UDLA) was the most beautiful campus they had ever seen, and that once you go to Mexico, you would not want to come back. I found all of that to be true and more. UDLA had the greenest campus I had ever seen. There were beautiful gardens to enjoy, and my dorm was a site in itself. There was a large fountain within the lobby, and the color and makeup of the building was unique. Peacocks and ducks wandered around the campus, making friends with every passerby. The students were very friendly, both American and Mexican, and so helpful. We even found strangers that were outside of the university to be helpful when we found ourselves lost in the neighborhoods of Mexico. The teachers were remarkable and patient and desired to teach the Americans their language. Classes were fun and exciting. There was homework, but it was never boring because for the most part, the homework was about your experience somewhere off campus, talking to the natives. My roommates were all Mexican from different parts of the country and so much fun to be around. With all of the interaction with the Spanish language, I began to think more in Spanish and even dream in Spanish by my second week. On the weekends, we traveled and traveled and traveled. The trips that Professora Ochoa planned for us were fun, yet educational. However, all of my fun came to an abrupt end on February 3rd.

From February 3rd to the 16th, I was hospitalized in Mexico, but I wasn't just at any hospital, I was at one of the best hospitals in Mexico. UDLA took care of my hospital bill, and so what I thought would be a nightmare of a bill, turned out to be about $3.50 in American money that I was able to pay out of my pocket. The faculty and students were so thoughtful, and I found myself to be in the best company whenever the Valpo crew spent the night with me. This experience allowed me to find a new type of friendship within my old and new friends from Valpo. My friends packed all of my stuff the night before my departure back to the US, and they ran to get medicine for me in the middle of the night when I was on a coughing marathon. Yes, I got really sick, but I loved my experience and I would not change it for the world because my sickness paid off much more than people may know. I would go back to Mexico tomorrow if I could, as long as my fellow comrades of Valparaiso University would be there with me. I missed out on so much due to my illness, but my initial encounter with Mexico was what sucked me in and helped me to love it." ~ Brenda Moechoe