API Teach abroad participant Erin reflects on her experience in Mexico:
About this time last year I was saying my last goodbyes and getting ready to begin my life in Mexico. I was filled with so many emotions; I was anxious, apprehensive, restless, but mostly excited. This was the year I was going to change my life – I was more than ready for it to begin.
My students would always ask me what things I missed from home. Other than my friends and family, not much. León is an industrial Mexican city and has pretty much anything you could want or need. Hungry for carne asada after work? Stop by the taco trucks on your walk home in the Calzada.
Missing home and in need of some comfort food? You’re just a short walk away from an 11:00pm McDonald’s run in El Centro. The Big Mac doesn’t have the exact same taste, but it gets the job done. You can grocery shop the traditional way in one of the many mercados, where I can promise you, you don’t need a kilo of plums. Or you can visit the local H.E.B. and eat some of the most delicious gelato for only 20 pesos as you shop.
Leon is a city that is mixed with old and new. Living downtown on the main street, Calle Francisco I. Madero, was a constant reminder that I was living in another country. The colorful buildings, cobblestone streets, and beautiful cathedrals were right outside my doorstep – those are the reasons people move to Mexico, am I right?
On Sundays, Madero would be closed off to vehicles and open to runners, walkers, cyclists, and more often than not, a parade of people protesting or celebrating their heritage. With the typical Mexican architecture, which does not include insulated walls, you could even hear the occasional person singing or playing the trumpet at the most random of times. With Sunday being the only day we could sleep in, my roommate and I weren’t exactly thrilled with the constant energy, but upon reminding each other that this was part of the experience, it always gave us a reason to laugh and love Mexico even more.
A short walk from home, also located on Calle Francisco I. Madero, was one location of the language school, Boston Academy. As I was beginning my fourth year of teaching, ESL instruction was a new, refreshing challenge for me. I taught mornings, afternoons and nights. Kids, teens, and adults. One-on-ones and chats. You name it, I taught it. While my schedule left me a little more than tired, I was grateful to be spending my time with such a diverse group of people. The students genuinely love to be there; Boston has created such a warm community of teachers, students, and friends. We laughed together, cried together, and most importantly supported each other.
While living in the city can be so much fun – the people, the markets, the food – there are times you need to get away. Every November, León hosts a balloon festival. People come from all over the city and surrounding areas to camp out in El Parque Metropolitano and watch hot air balloons float over the lake. Every other day of the year, the park is a sanctuary inside the busy city. You can walk, run, or bike the 7km loop around the lake, passing herds of goats and rewarding yourself with a bag of freshly squeezed orange juice at the end.
A big part of your life when living abroad is spending time with your friends and creating that community you left behind back home. Coffee and lunch dates after morning class filled with laughing, heart to hearts, and the puppy you *accidentally* adopted, result in some of the best times.
Or going to the bar after class on Fridays despite being completely exhausted knowing you have a 7:00 am wakeup call the next morning. Or staying in your first hostel, eating way too many spicy chips, and drinking tequila you bought from the local farmacia with some guys from New Zealand. Or making your friends eat not 4, not 5, but 6 street tacos after stumbling upon a huge street festival in a new city. These are the memories and relationships that make every moment of uncertainty worth it.
One Mexican vacation two years ago brought me to a time in my life I will never forget. I could say so much more about my experience, but I know my story isn’t over. I encourage you to go and write your own!
To learn more about the Teach in Mexico program that Erin was a part of, click here:
Applications to teach starting in the fall or winter are currently being accepted!