………………………………..Translation!? We each make a kite of life and fly it as we will
This is a saying here in Mexico, meaning in Mexico the people will live their lives as they like. And so far, it most definitely rings true. So, here I am. Two weeks into my global exchange program in Guadalajara Mexico (pictures above are from Guadalajara). A city I knew very little about before arriving. What was I welcomed with? Open arms. I was welcomed to a country so rich in culture, with more diversity that you could anticipate, and spice. A lot of spice! By this I don’t only particularly refer to the food, which I may add, if your not a lover of spicy food like myself it potentially could be a shock to your taste buds. What else but the food, its the people. You just can’t describe the warmth, the generosity and merely just the smiles of Mexicans. The people here are just so welcoming, friendly, inviting, you are thrown the phrase ‘mi casa es tu casa’, (translation for others – my house is your house). And yes, perhaps at home this could be construed as ‘a nice gesture’, but here they mean it! If your invited to a house, a party, a dinner – your invited! And not only are you invited, everyone you know are invited, and everyone they know!
Only in a country like Mexico have I been given the confidence and support to re-discover my artistic, creative side. The people here just believe that the movement in music, in the body, in dance, in the hand through art, through creating jewellery – to really every movement, that we all encompass this creativity. We all have this inner ability to be artistic in whatever we do. As someone who arrived with no belief that I had any creativity left, and to have anyone you meet believe you are capable of all the above, is a truly meaningful feeling. Something I just haven’t been able to find anywhere else across the world. I have traveled a lot around the world, through Europe, Asia, America, India, South and Central America, so I feel I have some argument to support my above statements! I was lucky enough, or strategic enough, to time my study abroad after traveling. To elaborate, I was fortunate to arrive in Mexico late last year (2013). Which allowed me to spend around 8 months traveling down through Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia. After this returning back to Mexico, exploring a little more before I begun my studies in Guadalajara. It is not the common way to do exchange, however I wouldn’t have wished for it any other way. This way I had time to learn the language, be introduced to the people, the way they think, the way they perceive time – which you wouldn’t never imagine but is so so so very important over here! It gave me time to adjust to this, the ‘slow paced life’, for example! If you are planning to meet a group of people at 8pm, this means 9pm – at the very earliest! If someone says ‘give me 5 minutes’, this means ‘give me half an hour’. Which in Australia, is such a foreign concept. I have lost all punctuality time management, solely due to the need to become super duper patient and flexible!
Now – this post is to be about Guadalajara Mexico – Which is amazing! The city is so fascinating. Its home to some amazing food, people, traditions and ways of life – PLUS it is an hour to a lake, an hour to forests, mountains, volcanos, natural hot thermals, ‘magic cities’ and the beach. You can’t beat that for location! However, due to my more current travelling experiences being spent in countries further south of mexico I will share a few experiences and photos that are possible when studying here! I mean you won’t meet anyone that is studying here in Mexico that doesn’t plan to travel in the holidays or after they finish. Everything is so close and so very affordable.
Firstly!! Guatemala. Amazing! The people are so beautiful, and the way they speak. You can actually understand it. That saying you already have a basic understanding of Spanish, but its home to the learning of Spanish. It is a very affordable place to live. I spent my time living with a Guatemalan family in a home stay and taking Spanish classes. In my free time I helped at local schools with the children. What better way to learn a language than living and speaking with a local family. Guatemala is so very beautiful! A must is Antigua, Lake Atitlan and Semuc Champey – the most magical place I have ever been to. A few quick photos!
THESE ARE FROM SEMUC CHAMPEY GUATEMALA…….SO FAR IN MY TOP FIVE PLACES IN THE WORLD
THIS IS A HIKE SAM – A FRIEND FROM NZ I MET TRAVELING – AND I COMPLETED IN LAKE ATITLAN GUATEMALA, AN AREA WHERE A VOLCANO COLLAPSED AND CREATED A LAKE – WITH SMALL TOWNS AND VOLCANOS SURROUNDING THE LAKE. YOU CAN WALK AROUND THE WHOLE LAKE.
However, where I spent most of my time was in the beautiful, undiscovered, uninterrupted Nicaragua. Where the people, I mean they aren’t quite the welcoming people of lets say Mexico! BUT they still make Nicaragua what it is. They have such a ‘work-free, care-free, laid-back’ attitude to absolutely everything in life. And if this doesn’t transfer into the welcoming of tourists then so be it! This is there culture, their way, it was not up to me to decide how they wanted to approach tourism, seeing as – me as a foreigner was so foreign to them. I really recommend visiting Nicaragua, especially before the plan to install a Canal through the middle of it commences!
1. THE CORN ISLANDS ON THE CARIBBEAN SIDE OF NICARAGUA
2. JIQUILLIO NORTHERN PACIFIC SIDE OF NICARAGUA – OF SOME OF THE CHILDREN I VOLUNTEERED WITH
3. ON THE ROOF OF A CHURCH IN LEON NICARAGUA
Now, back to Mexico. Some photos to introduce you to the country that throughout my travels I constantly missed so much, and felt so at home ht moment I landed back here!
NOW – to end. The important stuff! Guadalajara life:
To start, University at TEC. TEC is well, it’s a very beautiful campus. But a little bit out in the middle of no where. The housing is very beautiful and modern around the Campus, however the traditional cultural feel of Guadalajara is around 1 + hour on a rickety bus away. This is where I chose to live! I am living in Centro, where I am finding I am spending around 2-3 hours a day to get a bus (there and back each day). However, it is totally worth it. This means I get to experience two complete different areas. Plus it gives you a chance to get a coffee, listen to some great music and people watch each day. Plus you find so many other students on the same bus ride so there’s always someone to chat with the pass the time. The University is quite content heavy in terms of workload, and rather strict. But this is there way, and it obviously works for a reason. The teachers are fantastic, they are really passionate about what they are teaching and deliver the content in such energetic and creative ways. So it makes all this so worth it. I am taking classes I would have never before been interested in and am so excited to learn about something completely different from a perspective of a foreign country. They are quite practical and hands on in the way they teach, they really want you to get out with the community for projects which is really exciting. Additionally the university really looks after their foreign students, really settles you in and all the staff are so very friendly. There’s days, excursions, parties, beach festivals, housing options – all offered for foreign students. Also the facilities at the University are unbelievably. You have free access to the gym, all classes, pools, and everything in between. Free classes in yoga, Pilates, every type of dance possibly, learning an instrument, circus classes, drama, cooking, salsa, mixed martial arts, and art classes and more. All you need to do is find some that fit into your schedule and sign up!
Living wise, I am in a student house in Centro area, right in the thick of the hustle and bustle of Guadalajara. I am living with one other Australian girl, and a couple of other Mexican students from different universities. It is really fun; it means I get the full experience. They only speak Spanish, which is challenging, however I get to have sneaky English conversations with my Australian friend living here, which is always refreshing. But living with Mexicans is the greatest, they invite you to everything every night, they offer you whatever they have! They want to experience everything, any trip they plan, any gig they attend, any drink they make any food they make. It makes it all the more authentic!
A major plus here as well is how affordable everything is! Rent, food, transport, trips away! What you will spend in a month in Australia will stretch to 3-4 months in Mexico. The nightlife in Guadalajara is insane! Its a University City, so there are parties non stop, and lots of roof and house parties which is a nice change. A lot of salsa, a lot of shopping – antiques, artisans, second hand, painting, jewellery , the works! The food in Mexico is absolutely amazing, your taste buds will be in constant surprise! Also, if your a fan of Tequila, well where it is grown is just around the corner. Tequila here is not like home, its amazing!
THIS IS A PHOTO OF TEQUILA TOWN & THE SECOND IS GUADALAJARA’S FAMOUS TORTA AHOGADA (it may not be aesthetically pleasing, but thats not the point! Its delicious)
SO! If you after an adventure and perhaps a little bit of a challenge – this challenges comes with full support – then come to Guadalajara! Everyone here is so welcoming and happy to help you all the way – hence the stress of support through the challenge! If you want to learn something new, something creative, learn to salsa, learn to paint, speak spanish, or attempt, drink tequila, meet new people around the world, watch sunsets from rooftops, dance the night away – or the day!, eat amazing food, wake up each day with a smile on your face because you’ve been lucky enough to discover the life of Mexico. BIENVENIDOS A MEXICO! QUE CHIDO.