When my host mother first drove me back to our house in Mérida, I was surprised to see that there’s a 7–Eleven on the corner of the street where we live, and it’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In my head I’ve been stretching this into a metaphor for my first week or so here. It’s been a mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar, constantly catching me off-guard, but in a good way!
Starting from the beginning:
Wednesday, August 15th I said goodbye to my family and flew to Cancun, where I met our program director Diana (she made me feel so comfortable right away! she’s the best), her husband Francisco who is a UADY anthropology professor (equally incredible), and my program-mates (I was a little nervous about them at first haha, but I quickly grew to love them!), and eventually we drove about an hour to Tulum, the coastal city where we spent the next 3 days, aka orientation. Orientation consisted of getting to know the other girls (and 1 boy! Poor Patrick.) on my program, while climbing every Mayan ruin and swimming in every body of water in sight.
On the evening of Saturday, August 18th we got to Mérida and said our anxious goodbyes to our program-mates as our host families picked us up at the IFSA program office. My host parents are actually great! What a relief. J My host dad was born and raised in Mérida, and my host mom is from Mexico City. They’re very warm and great conversationalists, and have been hosting international students for 15 years, so they’re very comfortable and easy to live with. Together we enjoy watching a telenovela called “Amor Bravío” and walking around in the air-conditioned mall, among other things.
Ah, the mall reminds me – Mérida is much more Americanized/city-fied than I thought it would be. The longer I’ve been here the more I’ve realized that much of my knowledge of Mexico isn’t applicable in Mérida. Mérida is definitely not the same as small-town Jalisco, which has been a little shocking, but very interesting. To begin with, the whole city is segregated between the wealthy in the North (where I live) and the poor in the south, and from what I hear the two populations live very differently. I know little to nothing about the south thus far so I’ll save that for a future post. In the north, however, there are none of the old-lady-owned corner stores that I ignorantly thought existed all over Mexico. Instead practically every block has an Oxxo (chain) convenient store advertising 3 water bottles for $18.90 pesos. And here is a list of the American stores that are in the mall, off the top of my head: Subway, Nine West, Chili’s, Haagen Daas, Starbucks, Adidas… yet this is Mexico! And the people seem to love it. I don’t know how I feel about it all yet, but suffice to say I’ve been to the mall three times already, and to the Oxxo and 7-Eleven… I’ve lost count.
Oh and the whole reason I’m here – school! It’s so different. Here are some thoughts that run through my head simultaneously while I’m any of my 4 university classes:
This is so well organized!
This is so disorganized.
Ah, this course is discussion-based, I can do this.
This is so chaotic – why do the students keep yelling out of turn?!
I completely understand what is going on right now.
I have no idea what readings I’m supposed to do, no matter how many times I asked the person next to me.
So that’s school. And everyone wears pants to class even though it’s 90 degrees outside. It’s only been a week of school thus far so I have a lot of sorting through things to do before I can say much other than that it has been a lot of fun and I know I’ll have learned a lot by the time the semester is over!
OVERALL I FEEL REAL GOOD HERE <3 .