My arrival home was stressful. We had a one hour layover in Huston. Our bags arrived late and we missed our plane. Stress was high and we were all tearful. We all wanted to go home. We waited in line at customer service and were able to get a plane ticket for a plane two hours later. We all breathed a sigh of relief. I was so excited when I saw my parents at the airport. I was revealed when I got in my parents car and made it home. The next day I continued with my normal life in the states. I started unpacking and making my place my home again.
This was very different than when I arrived in Mexico. I was comfortable in my host parents house, but it wasn’t home. It was stressful at first because I wasn’t able to speak English, but I was soon more comfortable speaking my Spanish with my host family. It was stressful, but in a different way because I was in a different culture and speaking a different language.
Culture is almost always different than what you expect. Mexico was no exception. Space is a lot different in Mexico. The two biggest things were personal space and independence. Everything is closer together, the houses and the stores especially, are a lot closer together. Almost every house in my neighborhood is touching the neighboring house. Even the people stand closer when talking. That was different for me because I have a bigger personal bubble, even for those in the United States. Standing closer to people isn’t that hard for me to accept, and I became very accustomed to that.
I realized how independent people in the United States are. My host parents were very respectful of how independent I am. People are more community oriented in Mexico. I missed being able to take myself places. It didn’t take me long to get used to use the public transportation system, which is very common in Mexico. Public transportation is very common and very cheap in Mexico. Many more people use transportation use it in Mexico, than in the United States.
I am ready to come home. I have enjoyed my time in Mexico thoroughly, but I miss home. Stress is very hard when you’re away from home and not in your comfort zone. I am so very glad I had this experience and I learned so much while being in Mexico, but I am ready to be home. I miss my home and I miss my family. I want to come back to Mexico. I loved everything about Mexico, but I am ready to come home.
I’ve had so much fun learning new words in Spanish. I’ve picked up some words here and there. There a few slang words I’ve picked up on, mostly just shortened words from words I already know. I’ve also felt a lot more comfortable with speaking Spanish and asking people questions. I’ve started talking with my host family more and more about topics I am not as familiar with to see what I can learn from them.
It’s been getting a little harder to go out since we’re getting more projects and having tests. But, on Wednesday we took a break and went to the movies. Movies here are cheap by a whole lot. We saw two movies for 62 pesos, $6. We saw How to Train Your Dragon 2 in Spanish. I was most pleased that I understood most of what was going on, the rate of Spanish was easier for me to understand and the animation helped. We also saw Transformers 4 in English with Spanish subtitles. We were all curious to see how things translated. I was curious about how things translated differently and not literally, but that’s language. It doesn’t always translate literally.
Yesterday, most of us went to San Miguel de Allende. It’s a big tourist city that’s closer by Queretaro. Lots of people go there to retire, most are rich, or have extra money to spend. So, things are slightly more expensive there. There’s also a beautiful cathedral there. My host family says it’s based off of a cathedral in Europe. I found a site online that says the architect used European cathedrals for his inspiration.
One thing in Mexico that I’m learning to have fun with is bartering. Some vendors don’t do it and some prices already seem fair, but it’s fun to try on occasion. You don’t ask to barter, you just do. It’s a cultural thing that’s something I’ve found that’s fun. They name a price, you say a lower one until you come to an agreement. I’ve just asked for 10 pesos less and they’ve accepted. I’ve gotten a bracelet and a doll that way. I’m curious to see what else I can barter for.
This week has been so much better. I am feeling a lot more comfortable talking with my host family. I am asking them more questions and am better at comprehending what they are saying. I am also gaining confidence with trying to understand new topics in Spanish. This weekend we went to Mexico City, or as it’s called locally Mexico or DF. A new experience for me was the fact that at touristy places, vendors would approach you and ask you to buy something. It was weird at first because it isn’t common in the States, but you get used to saying no thanks or I don’t want anything. The whistles some were selling sounded amazingly like animal calls. I was tempted to get one, but knew it wouldn’t much interest for me for long. Also, it’s common to barter for market items, it’s kinda fun if you remember to ask for a lower price. Some vendors decrease the price if you’re interested in something when you start walking away. Also, some vendors had incense going, and smelled to high heaven. The ancient culture in Mexico is incredible and sad at the same time. The Aztecs must have been in good shape to climb all of those steep steps. I felt more comfortable going down the steps on my butt, because of a fear of heights, and it felt safer doing it that way. Visiting the museums helped me gain a sense of how the ancient civilizations in Mexico lived.
The first went by so fast. I spent Sunday night and Monday morning homesick. I was nervous and unsure of what to do with out my friends. It always takes me a while to adjust somewhere new when I’m by myself. The food here is a lot richer than in the states, but I brought some pro-biotics and that has helped my stomach adjust and not get as sick. The new language has been a challenge because I can’t always say exactly what I want, but I’m learning quickly how to rephrase what I want to say with the words I know. If I need a different word, I am always willing to look it up. The older feel of the city is amazing, the architecture is seems like something from Europe, not Mexico. I want to learn more about the public transport system, as I’ll be using it a lot more in the upcoming weeks. I also want to learn more about the history of the city because it seems like a beautiful city with a long history. I want to keep the learning about aqueducts that run through a part of the city. In the few days I was here before classes started, I learned they built the aqueducts because a nunnery needed fresh water because the river had become polluted. Much of the architecture in the downtown part of the city came from outside influence and was built much like a European city. Using the public transports has helped me see the city in a new way and see it’s beauty in a new way.
Airport security wasn’t as bad as I thought, until we got to the bus station where they checked our bags very thoroughly. When I first arrived, I was excited to explore the city with my friends. When I’m somewhere new, I love exploring with friends. For the first few days we saw numerous parts of the city and wanted to see more. When I met my host family, I thought it’d be cool because I thought it’d be like living with my grandparents. As I started unpacking, I start and getting homesick because they let me unpack and left me to my own devices. I love my family, and was starting to feel alone, and when somewhere new I’d rather be with people I know. I enjoy independence, but I enjoy spending time with people, especially when I feel alone. I asked for help the next day and my host family started talking with me more, and I felt better instantly. I’m feeling better now and much more at home.
Hi, my name’s Caitlin Mills. I’ve been looking forward to studying abroad in Queretaro, Mexico for a very long time. Overall, I am very excited to Mexico. I’ve always wanted to travel and learn more about Spanish. I’m excited to for the opportunity to learn about another culture and take Spanish and an ESOL class for the education program. I am a little nervous, only because I have a tendency to get home sick. To help with the nerves, I want to keep myself busy by exploring Queretaro with my friends so that I adjust quickly and experience more of what the city has to offer. I also want to be an example to show that not all Americans are what is portrayed on TV.
What I know of so far about my host culture is that extended family are more likely to live in the same house, grandparents, cousins, etc. live with a family. I also know it’s not that uncommon for older children, college grads, to still live at home. The culture places a higher value in families than in the States. Mexican’s also love their spicy food. I’ve heard that driving in Mexico is crazier than it is in the States. Houses are smaller, but are more decorative. I picture the houses as modern, or the stucco build that is seen in the Southwestern states. I also know that they love soccer. Most of the population is Catholic.