Fellow Study Abroad Participants
I’m just about half way through with this semester, and I’ve sure been learning loads at school and from my fellow study abroad peers. There are nine of us in the program, and I’ve made friends with all of them, but I’ve made one who I would consider a great friend. She and I have similar backgrounds. Her parents are both Mexican and she was born and raised in the U.S. We share the same taste in Mexican music and dance. We understand each other’s lingo and each other’s references. Though I can say I get along with the other members of the group, it’s always easier when someone understands your upbringing because it makes it so much easier to relate.
Being in Mexico and being treated as a foreigner is always a challenge for me. I identify as Mexican, but it’s difficult when people label me a “gringa” when I’m here but see me as an “other” when I am in the States. Though I understand many aspects of life in Mexico, I am also foreign to a lot of concepts so I’ve been open to learning, especially about this region of Mexico to where I had never travelled. Most of the time I spent in Mexico prior to this experience was in the central region. The type of music, food, and lifestyle is much different there, and I’ve enjoyed being exposed to another reality.
Being Mexican has allowed me to have a unique interaction with many students and families here. In some ways, my identity has benefitted me. In other ways, my peers also have characteristics that benefit them. For example, many of them have parents who are highly educated and have studied abroad prior to coming to Mexico. Many times they make comparisons and contrasts with the education they received there with the education system is here, and I can’t speak for those comparisons because I don’t have those experiences. However, I enjoy hearing their stories and learning from them.
I still wish there were more racial diversity within our group, but I have been glad to be present in this experience and have a unique identity. I am also thankful that I can relate closely to at least one other participant because that makes navigating study abroad so much easier. I hope that even past this experience we can continue to stay in touch.