On the 15th of September we celebrated Mexico’s independence day, so I’d like to start this blog entry with a loud VIVA MEXICO!
I actually took a flight to Mexico City and enjoyed an amazing weekend in Mexico’s beautiful and giant capital. At 11pm the president, Enrique Peña Nieto, rang the bell of the Palacio Nacional and together with hundreds of Mexicans I stood in the crowd on the Zócalo and yelled VIVA MEXICO! It was a great experience to stand among all the Mexicans with their shiny Mexican decorations and the little mustaches you could buy all over the city. I myself was dressed in my Mexican jersey, with a huge Mexican hat and the colors of the Mexican flag all over my face.
While in Mexico City I also went to Teotihuacan to see the pyramids of the sun and moon. It was a very impressive view and I got to climb all the way to the top!
Let me remember what else I have been doing the last weeks that I would like to tell you about
My classes in the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (UADY) are great and I love my teachers. The teachers from Merida are just so kind and always want to help you, especially if you’re a study abroad student. They are very interested in who you are, what you study, and what it’s like in your home country.
Actually, in one of my classes I even received a big applause for having traveled this far to visit and learn about Mexico.
Some of my classes are a little bit difficult, for example my finance class can be challenging at times, but I made so many friends within no time who make print outs of the material for me without me even asking for it – the students at the UADY are just so kind and helpful! They offered to study for exams with me and gave me their facebook to contact them if I have any doubts about the material.
Even though I was a bit nervous at the beginning of the semester and wondered whether I could find such good friends like the ones I had last semester, I now am very relieved to know that there are always great people who want to be friends with you.
Besides school I also started volunteering at the animal shelter again. They have actually constructed many new kennels since the last time I had been there and their place is full of cute, tail-wagging dogs and cats waiting for their forever home. I also got a friend of mine interested in volunteering with me. She is also from the IFSA-Butler program and just like me loves animals. Here are some photos of us walking and playing with the dogs:
Unfortunately, there are many stray dogs on the street and Merida is a very dry region (there are only about 3 months a year where you will experience some rainfall). Many times you will see skinny dogs wandering through the streets, looking for food. And sometimes you will also see dogs who got hit by a car. Of course this is very shocking, and being in a 3rd world country you have the opportunity to really make a change. Often times you will hear that there’s nothing you can do. But there is. And the experience of helping out at the animal shelter or teaching local children English is very rewarding. If you are interested in doing volunteer work – Merida is a great place to gather many different volunteer experiences that you will remember for a lifetime.
Tomorrow I’m going with a bunch of friends to a Mayan town called Yaxunah. It’s very close to the pyramid of Chichen Itza. We are taking lots of presents for the many children of the town and I also bought a big bag of dog food. We are very excited to visit the town, interact with the locals, swim in the cenote that is located in the town center and maybe learn a few words of Maya. The great thing about Merida is that it is a big and modern city only a few minutes away from the deep jungles, Mayan pyramids and a lot of very interesting Mayan culture.
Last semester I went to Yaxunah and got to meet a lot of great children that I’m still friends with and that I will visit tomorrow. Here are a couple of photos of the wonderful kids from Yaxunah:
Before I forget to mention it – we also went on an amazing trip on September 8th with the whole IFSA-Butler group. We went to the pyramids of Uxmal where we got to climb up and had an amazing view. Two students from the UADY accompanied us and explained us all about the history of the site. After that we went to a cacao museum close to the pyramids where we got to try freshly made hot cocoa which we added our own combination of spices to to make it extremely delicious (see photo). At the museum we also became friends with some cute little spider monkeys that were trying to steal our cameras and seemed very interested in pulling our hair
The last weeks have been so much fun and there is so much more to come!
All the best from Merida