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NU In Mexico

Public Health in Mexico

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How can I be so nervous and excited at the same time?

I can not believe that I get this opportunity to go to Mexico City. I have always wanted to travel abroad but it has been too expensive for me as a low income student. Thankfully with Undergraduate Learning Abroad funding most of my tution, I am finally going to leave the country for the first time. I do not know what to expected except for the unexpected. I have been preparing my language skills practicing on Rosetta Stone but I know that nothing will be a substitute for the real thing. I am very nervous about interacting with local people on my own but I know that interacting with as many native spanish speakers as possible is the best way to attain fluency. I have faith that my peers will join me in my quest to fluency by practicing together before we try to practice with native speakers. I am also nervous about the classes I am supposed to take this summer. We have four classes which is a full load and at Northwestern when I had a full load there was not much time for fun outside of school. I hope that we are all encouraged to explore the city and do not get stuck in the day to day of Universidad Panamericana. I have been researching the city online and Mexico City seems breathtaking. It is a huge city of 21 million people. It will be the biggest city for me to ever live in but that fact only makes it more exciting and alluring for me. I am somewhat apprehensive, but I am even more thrilled to see what adventures Mexico City has in store for me.

*Click Click Click* There’s No Place Like Home, But México Was Wonderful

On our way up to el Castillo de Chapultepec (the Castle of Chapultepec) where Maximiliano and Queen Isabella ruled.

Spending this summer studying abroad in México City (or CDMX for Ciudad de Mexico) was truly a priceless experience. I have been to México before, visiting my family in our small town, rarely spending too much time in cities, so being in CDMX made me feel like I was in a completely different México. The energy I found in CDMX, with its countless museums and sights to see, every place with a piece of history behind it, gave me a new perspective regarding México; I learned SO much history about a country I already loved which only contributed to that love and added a lot more admiration and respect.

The side of this building is cover with plants, and one bridge’s supports also has plants, to help address the issue of poor air quality. Also, the taxi’s in CDMX are pink!

My experience also reinforced my interest in my majors – Environmental Science and Global Health Studies – after seeing all the work that remains to be done to help the city and country thrive. I found myself distressed when I was reminded how much work needs to be done to ameliorate the quality of rural clinics and health education, and environmental issues like air pollution and access to water, let alone clean water – this being a problem even in the capital! With the distress came inspiration and eagerness to pursue a career that will allow me to address some of these issues. This experience also reminded me how important it is value what I have – I have been so fortunate to live in a place in which I have never had to worry about the cleanliness of water and where I have access to healthy food and quality health care.

Going to México was an incredibly eye-opening experience. From the country’s history to its public health to everyday life, I highly doubt that I would have received such a well-rounded experience had I visited under different circumstances. While CDMX might not be a place I would want to make a living in, I did fall in love with the city, the culture, and the people. I would love to go again.

Hasta el proximo, México

One never truly understands how well a person can adapt and change to the environment around them and make it feel as much of a home as possible. In just two short months, I became so accustomed to life in Mexico. The culture and food and way of life of the people there grew on me, shaping me to adjust to the place I called home for 8 weeks. I got used to the daily life in the city, getting ready for classes that took up most of my mornings, and the end the day with either heavy rain or a cool breeze. I developed close bonds with many people, hoping that they remain strong and tight in the distant future. I’ve learned so much of the culture and life of Mexico, taking into account all of the experiences and opportunities I’ve had there. Coming back to the United States took some adjusting as well, granted not as long of a time when I first arrived in Mexico. One can clearly see the distinct differences in life when comparing the two countries. In Mexico, I experienced this sense of individual freedom that I did not experience anywhere else. That freedom and independence helped me develop and grow into a new person after two months there. I wish to never forget the memories I have made there with both students and professors. I hope to revisit those places again with a different perspective, one of both tolerance and empathy. I hope people experience this marvelous freedom that I have and learn more and more about themselves while engaging and thriving in a new setting that is filled with wonder and beauty.

House of Hernan Cortes

Church of Santo Domingo in Oaxaca, Mexico

Mexico, Te Extraño Mucho

It has been a little over a month since I’ve returned to the U.S., and I must admit I miss Mexico City a lot. I was really living my best life there enjoying delicious food, meeting so many amazing people, and exploring new parts of the city everyday. Just like I expected, I miss the friends I made in Mexico so very much. I miss spending evenings playing music or watching movies with them. Thankfully, we all still keep in touch.

Jose, one of my favorite people from UP, was a super cool dude. We still keep in contact through memes.

When I arrived home, I gifted all the souvenirs I bought to my family. My mother deeply appreciates the rosary I bought from the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, my sister really enjoys her new colorful wallet from the streets of Coyoacán, and my dad uses his “Viva México” mug from Chapultepec all the time. I wish I could have brought home more relics, especially clothing and artwork, but my carry-on luggage was already heavy from all the snacks I just had to bring back.

Going through U.S. Customs was a long and tiring process, but it was interesting.

It took me a couple of weeks to re-adjust back to my lifestyle previous to Mexico. Similarly to my experience arriving in Mexico, my stomach was not used to the way food was prepared, so that took time to readjust. I had a lot of time to visit downtown Chicago, and walking the streets of Chicago definitely reminded me a lot about the busy, fast-paced nature of Mexico City.

Fall quarter at Northwestern starts tomorrow, and I’m excited to get back into the swing of the academic school year. I’m looking forward to continue sharing my summer learning abroad experience with others and applying what I learned on the program to my classes!

Nos Vemos, Mexico.

Written on Sat, Aug 18

Wow, so much has happened during these past few weeks! My Culture and History of Mexico class took a weekend trip to Oaxaca, and it was absolutely amazing. We explored so many exciting places, but some my favorites were the archaeological sites of Monte Albán and San Pablo de Mitla, El Árbol del Tule, and the Santo Domingo Cultural Center.

El Árbol del Tule was massive! It has the stoutest trunk of any tree in the world.

During our spare time, my roommate and I would go to the Zocalo and walk around the marketplace where many items were being sold from clothing items to chapulines, which are fried grasshoppers. Our Oaxaca trip was one of my favorite weekends in Mexico. Later in the week, we visited the Museo Frida Kahlo in Coyoacán, which is where Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera lived and created their art.

El Museo Frida Kahlo a.k.a. The Blue House

I spent my final days in this amazing country visiting my favorite places for the last time: Coyoacán and Chapultepec. In Coyoacán, I enjoyed my favorite tacos al pastor at my favorite taqueria. I and a group of students visited the Castillo de Chapultepec this afternoon, and we had the most amazing view of the city at the very top. Finally, I enjoyed the company of the amazing local friends I’ve made here for the last time. I’m definitely going to miss hanging out and jamming with them.

In all, my experience studying in Mexico City this summer was absolutely amazing, and I wish I had more time to spend here, but I do miss my family a lot. I hope to return to this incredible city sometime in the future!

Mexico Forever!!!

I have been back in the United States for two weeks. When I first arrived at home, I felt a little odd. Don’t get me wrong, I was very excited to sleep in my own bed again and be reunited with my friends and family, but I missed the routine that I had established over the past two months. No more going to class 4 days a week, or having family dinners everyday. It was like one day, I was translating everything in my head in Spanish and then the next I was surrounded by English and never had to even think in another language. The transition was very abrupt and because of it, I missed my homestay family very much. My host mom sent my roommate and I all of the pictures that we had taken together over the last couple of weeks which definitely aided in my missing them. It is so interesting to sit back and reflect on my journey in Mexico. I started out a nervous wreck who could barely speak two words in Spanish. Then at the end of it, I was able to understand and struggle my way through whole conversations. My growth within the Spanish language was very rapid and my love for the country grew stronger with each day that passed. This is definitely an experience that I will cherish and remember forever. Being on your own in a foreign country for that long allows you to learn and discover new things about yourself that you never believed were even possible. You are pushed to adapt to a new environment and it is one of the most beautiful things to go through. Mexico will always have a special place in my heart!

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“‘Where do you suppose we are?’ ‘Where do you think?’ ‘Well, I don’t remember any ruins in México’”

Cool Uncle Figure

Our history professor holding a Northwestern flag at Monte Albán

My history class during this study abroad trip has been by far one of the most meaningful history classes I have had in my life. My Mexican history has never gone more in depth than that the Spaniards colonized current day México and mixed with the indigenous people. My time studying at la Universidad Panamericana has opened my eyes to details behind the history of México from pre-Hispanic culture to current day México. Our professor is so passionate about what he teaches that it is impossible to not get excited. He brings in different artifacts to go along with the lessons such as codices (pre-Hispanic books written by indigenous people), vanilla reeds and a mecate (a rope made of horse hair) to go with our lessons regarding trade and commerce, and maps to show the growth of the city. We also went on excursions almost every Friday. The biggest was a trip to Oaxaca, a state southwest of México City. We left for Oaxaca on Thursday morning and returned to México City on Monday morning. One of the best parts is that since our history professor went with us, as much as we may have been tourists, exploring the ruins of Monte Albán, visiting a gigantic weeping willow, visiting former monasteries turned museums and Catholic churches with their doors still open, we also remained students as our professor gave us pieces of history along the way. As a bonus, he also offered fun facts along the way as he pointed out land marks like volcanoes or took us into Catholic churches to point out the intricacies in their decor. Throughout this trip, he tied together everything we had learned throughout our history course to show us the big picture of how all the lessons and their pieces of history collide.

More Trips!

Written on Saturday, July 28

These past few weeks have been amazing and eventful! For my Culture and History of Mexico class, we took three trips: Centro Historico Prehispánico, Centro Historico Colonial, and Xochimilco. For the first trip, we visited the Templo Mayor, which was the main temple of the capital city of Tenochtitlan. Afterwards, we visited the Museo Nacional de Antropología, and there we saw many artifacts including the Aztec calendar stone. It was an absolutely unreal experience seeing it in person. It was so much bigger than I had imagined, and no photo from any high school textbook could prepare me for its magnificence in person.

This is the Aztec calendar stone we saw at the Museo Nacional de Antropología

For our second trip, we visited the Palacio Nacional, located in Mexico City’s main square, the Plaza de la Constitución. There, we walked the halls of the Benito Juárez Museum and saw the incredible murals by Diego Rivera. My favorite was the History of Mexico mural in the main stairwell. Later that day, we visited a couple more museums and the Palacio de Bellas Artes. It was a tiring day, but we saw so many amazing sights from beautiful artwork in museums to intricate gold designs in churches.

 

This is the History of Mexico mural by Diego Rivera located in the stairwell of the Palacio Nacional

Yesterday we went to the Museo Dolores Olmedo Patino where we saw more Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo art. There were even peacocks and hairless dogs! My favorite part of the day was when our class went on a boat ride in Xochimilco. It was such a fun experience. There were vendors on boats selling everything from tacos to flower crowns. We even received a beautiful performance from mariachi musicians passing by. It was overall an absolutely amazing day.

From our boat ride at Xochimilco

After these incredible past couple of weeks, I’m looking forward to our field trip to Oaxaca this Thursday!

The Close of a Great Chapter

One thing I will never forget from my study abroad experience is the memories I’ve made and the lasting relations I’ve built with students and professors from UP and other people I have met along the way. Through them not only have I learned more of the rich culture and history of Mexico but also the overall reality of the country, the every-day difficulties and struggles of the people, and how these same people overcome these obstacles. I’ve come to greatly appreciate the opportunities given to me throughout my life. Traveling outside of the country alone for the first time has helped me grow in numerous ways. I have developed a deeper love and appreciation for the land of my ancestors. I’ll never forget this experience, and that I hope someday in the future I’ll get to make more wonderful memories with the people I’ve met.

4th of July lunch with Professor Manuel, and students Jose and Quique

Hasta luego Mexico!

The final days of this study abroad program are quickly approaching. I can’t believe I have already spent 8 weeks in Mexico! I was so nervous about so many things before coming to this country, but thankfully, I was welcomed with open arms. This last week has been filled with final exams and presentations. These exams and presentations have really allowed me to consolidate all of the knowledge that I have learned about the Mexican health system and try to come up with potential solutions that I believe should be implemented.

One of my favorite parts about these last few weeks in Mexico was the trip to Oaxaca with our history professor. Oaxaca is a city that is about 4 hours away from Mexico City. It is so rich in history and culture, and it was the perfect place to visit as one of our last field trips. We visited a modern library that contained many interesting historical artifacts, pyramids in Monte Alban, and even got the chance to crash THREE weddings while we were visiting cathedrals. Oaxaca also has some of the best food that I have ever had in my life. It was nice to get away from Mexico City for a little bit and compare the similarities and differences between these two cities. For example, Oaxaca has a large indigenous population. This population also speaks the most amount of language than any other Mexican city. Oaxaca is also located in a very mountainous areas and due to this, the air was much cleaner than in Mexico City. Overall, this trip was one of my favorites during my entire time here in Mexico.

Although I am sad to leave all of the local people that I have met, I am excited to get home and be reunited with my friends and family, and to use the new knowledge that I have gained about Mexico’s healthcare system in my future career as a healthcare professional.

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