El tiempo se pasa volando

Es increíble pensar que ya tenemos un mes en la bella ciudad de México. One whole month that has flown by. During this month I’ve learned a few more Spanish slang words, as well as eaten authentic and traditional meals, and even learned a few salsa moves. The most exciting part was climbing the pyramids of Teotihuacan. The sun pyramid is the tallest one in Teotihuacan, followed by the moon pyramid which is located in the the Avenue of the Dead (named after the mounds on its sides which look like tombs).  Being almost 7,900 ft. above sea level was in fact thrilling. The climb up was a different story. Let’s just say there was more than one break in between, and lots of huffing and puffing towards the end. It wasn’t easy, but as cliché as it sounds, it was totally worth it. The view from the top is simply breathtaking. A picture does speak a thousand words. 

teotihuacan

After our journey to Teotihuacan, we traveled to Puebla, a Spanish colonial city in Mexico. Puebla is known for its dishes, in particular its mole, chalupas, and chile en nogada. The mole Poblano is a type of sauce made with different chiles and with chocolate, both things that I love. Chalupas are a type of crunchy tortilla topped with shredded chicken potato and green salsa. Just thinking about them makes me hungry all over again. Chile en nogada was originally made by nuns after the Mexican Independence. It contains all the three colors present in the Mexican flag: green, white, and red. The chile is stuffed with meat amongst other things, topped whit a nutty white sauce and pomegranates. Sadly, we didn’t get the chance to eat in Puebla but we did find a local restaurant here in Mexico City that served them. Overall, I probably gained a few pounds after that weekend trip, I even got el “mal del puerco” (food coma). 

chalupa chile en nogada

This month has been full of laughter and joy, making me dread the day I have to leave. I never thought I’d be trying many of the things I have, like grasshoppers. Let me just say they weren’t as bad as I thought. I also had authentic Korean bbq for the first time at a Korean town here in Mexico City. I’ve been packed like sardines in the metro, the one experience I do not want to repeat. I’ve even eaten corn fungus, and other things I would have never tried back home. If I’ve learned anything it’s that being away from home, surrounded by great people and food, did not make me home sick but actually more open to new experiences. Don’t get me wrong I miss my friends and family back home but I also do not want this to come to an end.

Half-Time

“It’s been four weeks already?” has been a question that has gone through my head multiple times today. To be exact, tomorrow will mark exactly four weeks since I arrived in Mexico City, Mexico, and the half waypoint of the program. The program has felt like it has been going by fast, but at the same time I feel as if I have been here forever. Whether it is being familiar with the Metro system, which has to be the most ridiculously crowded form of transportation I’ve ever seen in my life (seriously though these people pack up like sardines to get to their destination), or walking to the local grocery store for pan dulce. Mexico City is really becoming to feel like home. For example, when I first got here I was feeling out of place, rightfully so seeing that I’m 6’3” and slightly racially ambiguous, which drew many stares, and at the same time, a little shy. When I first arrived in Mexico City, staying at a house with people I never met before seemed like a strange idea to me, and that was even reflective in little things like dinners. At dinner, I was reserved and barely spoke, maybe due to being shy at first or maybe I’m just a lot more socially awkward than I thought. However, I’ve became a lot more comfortable and able to carry out conversations about things like politics in Mexico and food with the host family, where as at first I just wanted to eat my food and get out of there. My host mother even said at dinner today “I’m happy that you’re laughing and talking now, at first you did not talk much.” There are still four weeks left in the program, and I hope to take full advantage of those four weeks left. The classes and trips to historic and cultural sites such as Teotihuacan have been nothing but great and I look forward to the next four weeks. Whether it is getting to know the culture better, or doing something wild like eating street food (lame, I know), I plan to make the most of it.Teoti

“All Abooooooard!!”

MEX03_0012“Hijole!!” The term is Mexican slang for describing something surprising. This is an expression I quickly picked up from our cuates here at Universidad Panamericana and it perfectly describes the transportation in Mexico City. This city is wild! I would like to first mention that I am from Los Angeles, the city in the United States with the most notorious traffic. And even LA has to bow down to the craziness that is driving/ riding public transportation in Mexico City.

I have had the opportunity to travel with all three of the main means of transportation in the city: car, bus, and train. Right off the bat coming in the city, our taxi/van ran many red lights and narrowly squeezed through a tight alley with centimeters of air space. The very next day, my host mom drove me to class and we had two near accidents in which we almost ran over a pedestrian and had to swerve out of incoming opposite traffic due to construction. The next days I had to figure out how to use the public transportation system (bus and train) and found it to be more absurd to travel than car. The buses and trains, which in Mexico City run approximately every 2 minutes, are constantly spilling over with people at all times of the day and are wildly operated. I vividly remember a man surfing outside of the bus door because it was so crowded. There was a time where a man ran to catch the train and jumped through the closing doors only to have his backpack get caught outside; the doors did not reopen and the train rode on.

Throughout my first 2 weeks, I have yet to see an accident on the street. Better yet, I have yet to see a dented car or bus! I have no idea how this can be, but there is something magical of the controlled chaos the city has. This city waits for no one. And with every packed street, bus, or train I experience, all I could do is shake my head, push my way in, and mutter “Hijole!”

Mexico lindo y querido


Castillo de Chapultepec

Castillo de Chapultepec

 

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I’ve started to lose track of how many days I’ve been in Mexico City. It’s not the type of forgetting that happens because you just want the days to fly by. It is actually quite the opposite, I wish the days would be longer so I’d get to spend more time here. 

It feels like ages ago that I first arrived to this beautiful city yet I’ve already grown to love all the vibrant colors and all the delicious food. I remember meeting my host family who welcomed me with a warm hug and huge smile. Since then, I’ve only grown closer to them, especially to the two little girls who live with us. In just one week it’ll be Nicole’s 7th birthday, and so we’ve started to plan a surprise party for her.

Malinalco: Pueblo Magico

Malinalco: Pueblo Magico

As part of our research, we visited “Las Hermanas del buen samaritano”, a type of hospice home run by nuns. To my amazement, this whole place was run by donations. Not one single patient had to pay to be staying there nor for any medications. At first many of us were hesitant and slightly uncomfortable  to begin working with the patients. However, once we got into a rhythm of work, it all flowed from there. I met two particular patients that caught my eyes. Ibeth and Coral, two very young girls whom did not have any terminal illness, but rather were there out of the compassion of the sisters who took them under their wing. This experience has shown me just how kind hearted people are here. <3 

Las Hermanas del Buen Samaritano

Las Hermanas del Buen Samaritano

Once all the work was done, it was time to go exploring. A group of the northwestern students, accompanied by our quates from Universidad Panamericana, decided to go on a hike. While most of us did not come prepared to hike a mountain, it was an experience I would never trade.  For starters we were face to face with two donkeys, which I swear we had heard earlier quarreling amongst themselves. We then passed mountains of cow poop and shortly after we walked past a herd of cows. We climbed and climbed. I’ve never felt more out of shape, but I’ll blame the altitude for that.  Finally we reached the top, and like all good college students we began our mini photo shoots sitting at the edge of the cliff. 

Malinalco_093

 

I realize it’s already week three which only means five more weeks left of exploring the city, trying new foods, and meeting new friends. I know for a fact that this will not be my last time coming to Mexico City because it has already gained a place in my heart. 

I can’t wait for whats to come. 

 

 

New Learning Opportunities!

Hello! My name is Tricia and I’m a junior studying Sociology and Global Health at Northwestern. I will be updating this blog with stories, reflections, and thoughts from my time in Mexico City, but, for now, the thoughts swirling through my head as I sit here in Chicago will have to suffice.

To say the least, I am incredibly excited to participate in the Public Health in Mexico program at Universidad Panamericana (UP). I know that new experiences should be approached with an open mind and no expectations, but, due to the pre-departure workshops, the stories I’ve heard from my Mexican family, and the photo blogs I’ve been following, it has been incredibly difficult for me to resist envisioning what my life in Mexico City will be like. I mostly think about the knowledge I will obtain as a student at UP and how meaningful it will be for me as a person and as a future professional. For instance, in the History and Culture of Mexico course, I anticipate learning a lot more about my Mexican heritage. I look forward to supplementing the knowledge my parents have taught me with texts from class and cultural experiences outside the classroom. Hopefully, this newfound cultural knowledge will also translate into a better understanding of the immigrant Mexican community in Chicago. I intend to work closely with this community as a professional, whether that be through work in public health or as a physician, so I will wholeheartedly value any cultural lessons I may have missed growing up in America. I’m also very excited to take the public health courses simply because they align perfectly with my academic and professional interests. Studying the Mexican public health system while in Mexico will make for an unparalleled learning experience. I imagine it being far better than learning about it in a cold Evanston classroom. Overall, my mental image of my experience in Mexico entails amazing learning opportunities, and I intend to take full advantage of them during my time in Mexico City.

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I’m Leaving Today???

It’s 12:00am 4/20, and in 15 hours my flight will depart for Mexico City, Mexico. Before leaving for my study abroad program, Public Health in Mexico, I decided to spend a week at home to spend time with family and friends. However, throughout that whole week I was constantly reminded that I was leaving for Mexico on Monday through conversations with my family and friends, but it never actually hit me that I was going to be spending eight weeks of my summer in a place that I had never ventured to before.

Yeah I took Spanish in college and in high school, but outside of the history and culture lessons on Mexico, I didn’t know much about the country. As I am sitting here typing this blog post, I can’t tell if I am feeling scared, anxious, or excited. To be honest, it is probably a mix of all three however it did not hit me that I was leaving so soon until I began packing. As I was trying to figure out which pieces of clothing would get left behind due to the limited size of my suitcase, I said to myself, “Yo, I’m leaving to Mexico tomorrow…”. I talked about what I was doing this summer almost all spring quarter but I kind of brushed off the significance of the experience. But here I am with racing thoughts going through my head, wondering if I have gotten everything I needed, or what I’m going to do with my first bit of free time? I guess I won’t know the answers to all these questions till I get there, so we’ll just have to wait and see what Mexico has in store.Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 1.22.23 AM

I’m Mexi-Can’t wait to get going

My name is Esai Orozco and I am a rising Senior at Northwestern studying Biological Sciences. This Summer ’16 I will be abroad in Mexico City (also known as D.F.) on the Public Health in Mexico program.

First off, I should mention that I am of Mexican and Japanese descent. The main reason why I chose this program over others like it, was because it would give me the best opportunity to learn my own culture while not being overly culture shocked. I have been to Mexico many times before, more specifically the highlands of Jalisco, Puerto Vallarta, and Cancun. However, I have never visited D.F. and certainly have never been outside the country without my parents. I have experienced being away from my family in Los Angeles, CA for long periods of time, like when I left them 3 years ago to go to college. I was both homesick and culture shocked when I got to Northwestern University. Everybody from my hometown was Latino, so coming to this predominantly white and wealthy institution was crazy. I tried to fit in with the crowd and failed due to too many differences. For that short time, I cursed my upbringing. Fortunately soon after, I discovered the tight knit Latino community at the school that made me realize to appreciate my Mexican heritage. I was proud to be a “paisa.”

This summer, I will have the ultimate opportunity to continue learning more about my culture. My ultimate goal for the program is to become as comfortable with Spanish as I possibly can. I grew up speaking Spanish, however when I went to middle school where all my classes were taught in English, my language skills deteriorated quicker than the Mexican soccer fan base after the Copa America massacre by Chile. I speak well when I have to so I hope this program will push me further than I could ever do here in the U.S. My other goal in the program is to be able to take in the successful elements of the Mexican public health care system and implement some of their ideals to my future career. As an aspiring physical therapist, I want to improve our health care system as much as possible… since I know personally how backward it is sometimes. I believe learning and implementing effective ideas from Mexico, even though they are a “third world country” and “unhealthy,” would ultimately help our American society as a whole.

To conclude, I never thought in my college career (or life) that I would have the opportunity to study abroad. But thanks to the University… and their money, I am Mexico bound and am ecstatic to get going! Stay tune to more of my adventures as I explore my ancestors’ land.

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Mixed emotions

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

In just a couple of days I will be leaving my beautiful city for a new adventure. I’ll leave behind my visits to North Avenue beach in exchange for field trips around Mexico City. I’m sure I’ll miss my family and friends but for now I just can’t wait to leave. The past couple of months I have been filled with excitement and curiosity. Getting to know all my fellow NU classmates and UP students who will also be with me in Mexico made everything seem more real. I will soon be checking off study abroad from my bucket list.

Yet as the day gets closer I can’t help but feel shaky. I keep thinking how this will be my first time traveling alone and I’m not sure what to expect in Mexico. I’m worried I will not have enough time to truly appreciate the city.

Despite my biggest fears, I’m excited to finally immerse myself into my family’s culture; to learn a little more about my family roots. Most importantly, I’m thrilled to meet my host family and begin our palliative care research project. I’m excited to be studying in a different institution where I will be able to use my fluent Spanish. Like everyone else, I am also counting down the days until I have authentic tacos and other Mexican food.

Public Health in Mexico: Pre-departure Orientation

Public Health in Mexico: Pre-departure Orientation

Mexico on my Mind…Always

photo(3)I’ve been back from Mexico for a while now, and I can safely say that while Mexico was on my mind occasionally before I studied abroad, it is now on my mind, always. That’s the beauty of these programs, because the on-the-ground experience of rooting yourself in a different country for multiple weeks makes it so that those roots will always stay with you, and can affect so many of the things we think about on the everyday basis.

 

 

 
I want to talk about the many small things that I loved about Mexico, because it’s always the nuanced things that tend to fall through the crack, but manage to touch our hearts the most. First, I met some wonderful people in Mexico. I had a host mom named Amalia who was like a grandma to me. She cooked the most amazing Mexican dishes for us. I lived with other people on the program, and I couldn’t help but feel like it was a real family every dinner. Dinners were lively, energetic, fun, and a cacophony of English, Spanish, broken English, broken Spanish, and Spanglish. Even through the language barriers, we were still a family and did things the Mexican way. We became friends with a girl who already lived in the house, and she took us around to the city and let us experience what local Mexicans experience. But my favorite times were our random late night talks about the worlds we come from, the things we have in common or don’t have in common, and about life in general. And even though my Spanishphoto(4) was poor, I somehow made wonderful human connections with people who I found were not so different from me. I went to many culturally rich places in Mexico, such as Chapultepec, Teotihuacan, Xochimilco, etc., but watching movies on reclining seats, going salsa dancing, bowling, karaokeing, ice cream tasting, etc. with our friends from the medical school at Universidad Panamericana was like the icing on the cake.

 

 

 

Just in class the other day, I realized exactly how lucky I was to be able to study abroad. The concepts that we talked about made that much more sense after going to Mexico and after experiencing first-hand some of those things. I found myself constantly reflecting on everything that I learned, touched, experienced, and felt in Mexico. I wasn’t thinking from the standpoint of just me, the girl from the United States anymore. I was thinking from the standpoint of me, the girl who has experienced a different world. I think all the time about the people I now care deeply about from that world and their lived experiences. My thoughts became integrative, and that’s when it hit me that Northwestern has succeeded in turning me into a better global citizen, one who recognizes when things are taken for granted. Humans can’t help but be ethnocentric sometimes, in the sense that we judge everything based on the values of our own cultures, but I’d like to think that going abroad has helped me become even less ethnocentric.

We take so many things for granted, such as clean water, and only when we are in a different place do we realize how others live their lives. In Mexico, the tap water is not safe to drink, and even though I knew that, I still had to constantly negotiate my surroundings and everything I knew to understand and adapt to these circumstances. I think that’s what being a global citizen is all about, proactively negotiating our surroundings and everything we thought we knew. Like a phoropter with all its lenses, I feel as if a lens of the global world around us has been added to mphoto(5)y own individual lenses, allowing me to perceive the world through a different frame. I mentioned in my first post that Mexico is a country that borders our country, but for a country so close and vital to the story of America, how much do we really know about it? Well, now I am more than aware that Mexico is not the drug-ridden, violent and war-torn country that the US paints it to be, but a country shaped by imperialism and its vast history. I am not saying that everything is peachy-keen here, because instability is wide-spread, but it is a country with wonderful people, values, and a culture worth experiencing. This lived experience has brought me to understand that it’s not me vs. them, but us now, and it is something I hope to keep in my life and all my undertakings in the future.

Since I’ve been gone…from Mexico

Sunny California

Well it is now September and school is starting up. In my family September signifies more than the start of school – it is the month Mexico gained its Independence. The 16th , according to my mom is called El Dia del Grito, the day of the shout. Everyone who celebrates this momentous day in Mexican history goes around shouting Viva Mexico! Although this day isn’t important to some, it holds much significance to my family. Not to mention having celebrated this day this year made me realize how much I miss Mexico City and life abroad. Although living in a Mexican household does much to remind of my time there, I still miss the deep history and friends I found this summer while studying in Mexico City. Upon arriving to California from my summer abroad, I was happy and excited to spend my remaining weeks in sunny California relaxing with family and friends.

However, I must admit, a part of me really missed Mexico. I missed waking up and walking to school with my peers every morning. I missed the small adventures my family in Mexico and I would have on a whim. It wasn’t hard adjusting to life in the U.S, however I must admit I do miss the easily accessible Oaxacan Hot Chocolate only our host mom, Amalia, knew how to make perfectly. One thing I can say is that studying abroad has really broadened my perspective on life and career interests. Although medicine is still something I enjoy learning and reading about, public health may be something I’d like to study and do in my life. Nonetheless, I really appreciate this summer abroad. Besides granting me knowledge of my roots and better understanding of my culture, this summer abroad has taught me that life is what you make it. There are many paths to certain careers. One just need to find their own, no matter how long it takes.