Leaving Mexico at the end of my program was an unbelievably sad experience for me. Though it may have taken me a week or two to get adjusted, Mexico City really grew on me and I began enjoying everything it had to offer immensely. Ironically, the time I was enjoying it the most was also only a few days close to the end.
But like all good things, the Public Health program in Mexico had to come to a close. And back in the United States, I’ve had plenty of time to think about what I learned from studying abroad.
Funnily enough, the two biggest takeaways for me arguably have little to do with each other. The first for me was understanding the flexible nature of how research can be conducted. Before coming to Mexico, I had in my mind an underlying assumption that research, at least most of the time, was conducted in a lab wearing a white labcoat. Coming to Mexico and taking part in the Malinalco biostatistics analysis demonstrated to me that research is extremely diverse and can encompass numerous fields, methods, and topics. Math and field surveys can be just as informative and as useful as mixing chemicals together, and taking part in that research has opened my eyes and broadened my horizons in searching for future opportunities in public health, or even research at large.
The other takeaway is more of a personal issue that applies to my life as a whole, and that’s my social life. I have to admit that before I went on this program, I was a very isolated and solitary individual who mostly kept to himself, his studying, and the internet. Coming to this program and regularly interacting with both the rest of my NU friends and the UP medical students have showed me just how exciting, fun, and meaningful extensive social interaction can be. I only have one year left in NU, but because of my experiences I have made a promise to myself to be more social and more open to others when I step back into university life. There’s little doubt in my mind that coming to Mexico has changed my perspective and how I think about the world around me for the better, and now it is up to me to convert those lessons into bettering my life.