Campus Life – Lauren

The fact that Tec is a not-for-profit private University, where all the funds are re-invested into the university, is evident in the quality facilitates and opportunities. The campus is so beautiful! Unlike University of Auckland City campus, which has a main road running through it, the campus here is so large and very lush. It is a very secure campus, with security at all entrances and thus you need your student ID card to enter. It has many mature trees, hammocks for relaxing in-between classes and in the middle of the campus there is a popular common area with many tables and umbrellas called ‘Cyber Plaza’, which is surrounded by a range of affordable food and drink places.

All the classrooms are easy to find so I never had much trouble orientating myself around the campus even though it is so big. The classrooms are numbered with 4 digits e.g. 2305. The first digit refers to building the building number, either 1, 2, 3 or 4, which are all connected. The second digit is which floor, again 1-4, and the last two digits are which number the class is. So it is all very straightforward.

The classes here a small teaching style, with desks on wheels, so you can easily zip around the classroom for group work or to chat with a friend. This is very different to the lecture style we have at Auckland. It is interesting to experience a different way of learning which I find a bit more relaxed and interactive.

One thing I love about the campus is that there are bikes parked up at the various bike stations around the campus that are free for all to use to get from one spot to another. It is really great on a Friday afternoon when you can’t be bothered walking from class to the exit of Tec or if you are running late to class.

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The blue bikes available for us to use. All you have to do is make sure you park it up at another bike station.

There is always something going on at the Tec de Monterrey Guadalajara campus. Some of the activities on campus this semester include a Health Feria where there were various stalls with health checks, promotion and freebies, Valentines Day where you could buy donuts among other things for loved ones, and the opening of a new library service which involved Mariachi and cake. For any other occasion Tec will create some sort of celebration.

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One of the many Valentine’s Day displays

There is also a really great gym which is free for all students and staff to use. The gym here has great big windows with a view out to the trees and sports fields. This gives it such a nice atmosphere but it can get very busy. There is a great variety of machines and classes you can attend including yoga, your usual fitness classes, cross fit, aikido and taekwondo. I have been really enjoying a kickboxing class, the gym being a great opportunity to try something new and meet new people (one of my good Mexican friends whom I spent our Easter holiday with I met at the kickboxing class!).

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I also have a twice weekly Salsa class. I thought it would be full of internationals, but it is actually really cool as I am the only one in my class. Most of your classes will probably be made up of other international students, thus making the most of thee extra-circular activities gives you the chance to meet Mexican students which is awesome. Tec gives you so many opportunities to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new skills. At the start of May along with all other dance classes (e.g. K-Pop, Hip Hop, Ballet etc), my class will be doing a short dance presentation. This is something quite daring for me, but I think, hey I am on an exchange and I would never do this back home, so why not!?

The only thing about the Guadalajara campus is that it is quite far from the central city. Therefore, at times it can feel like there is not a lot going on and if you want to go into the centre, it will take about 40mins-1 hour by bus. But overall, the Tecnológico de Monterrey Guadalajara campus is really nice. And because there are a million and one things to do, you can spend a lot of time on the campus, thus being a bit out of town doesn’t really matter so much. One of my flatmates has also studied at the Mexico City and Queretaro campuses (having to change due to the Mexico City earthquake in September 2017), and she said she thinks the Guadalajara campus is the nicest. Tec has over 30 campuses across Mexico and as part of 360 International, you can select whichever campus you like. Most University of Auckland students go to a campus in Estado de Mexico, and I was the first UoA student to study in Guadalajara. I chose to study here as I thought it is a bit smaller than Mexico City (six million+ people so Guadalajara is still bigger than all of New Zealand, but less than the 20 million+ in Mexico City), it has a good climate and it is close enough to other places for weekend trips. I have also spoken to other people about other campuses, so would be more than happy to speak with anyone before they select their campus and answer any questions!

I will leave you with this short YouTube video, capturing Tecnológico de Monterrey, Guadalajara campus life! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sX81OpXCjl0

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Food, Glorious Food – Cathy

While most students on exchange are absolutely raving about the food culture overseas, the UK is a bit of another story. The British have a bit of a reputation for bland food, which I have to agree with to some extent. Restaurants and cafes will generally offer the same kind of food as back home; however, coming from Auckland has set my standards quite high. In saying all of that, there have definitely been some perks of living in Glasgow in terms of food and I’ll be sharing some of my personal highlights.

Being an adult and cooking for yourself

Glasgow is one of the cheaper cities to live in the UK, which my bank account is quite grateful for when I go to do my groceries every week. I actually look forward to my weekly grocery shop – not only does it give me a chance to get to know what kind of food Brits eat, but there’s so many cheap options that I’ve become much more comfortable with cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. I’ve never been a particularly good cook, but some of my favourite times in the semester have actually been spent in my kitchen. I almost never cook when I’m home in Auckland but when you’re living in the halls, dinner time in the kitchen feels like its own social affair. Although my cooking isn’t always successful, I’ve definitely enjoyed having the chance to properly cook for myself on a regular basis.  One of my personal favourites is a store called Iceland that stocks mostly frozen foods. You can get a frozen pizza there for a pound! Dangerous, but amazing.

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Kitchen shenanigans at Cairncross!

What’s a post about Scottish food without mentioning haggis and black pudding?? For those who don’t know, haggis is a pudding made up of various sheep organs (heart, liver & lungs) minced up with onion, oatmeal, salt and spices. Black pudding is a blood sausage made up of pork or beef, pork blood and oatmeal. I tried both in one of my first weeks here and my verdict is that they’re both …okay. Now I know that’s a pretty underwhelming response but personally, I didn’t think they tasted as weird as they sound but I can’t really say they tasted amazing either.

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Haggis and Black Pudding

V for Vegetables

Glasgow is known for being one of the most vegan friendly cities in the world and it’s easy to see why. Along every main street you’ll come across a vegetarian or vegan café or restaurant. In fact, there’s a vegan bar right under my accommodation that has jazz sessions every Sunday which I absolutely love. There are ample vegetarian and vegan options in almost every establishment you go to and some of the things I’ve tried have been SO amazing. The peanut butter shortcake in my favourite café Offshore is to die for!

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Vegan peanut butter shortcake and a latte at my favourite café! The Aucklander in me can never resist taking a snap of my coffee and food.

I’ve been considering going vegetarian for a while now but found that it’s been extremely difficult to do so back home, but here in Glasgow, I’ve noticed that I can almost effortlessly avoid meat for days at a time. This change in eating habits has definitely been an unexpected part of my time here but I’ve really enjoyed taking on the challenge of properly committing to going vegetarian.

Other Quirks

  • Chips & cheese! For some reason people are really into having chips with grated cheese on top, especially after a night out. Strange but also really good.
  • Irn-Bru (Iron Brew) – the national soft drink. A weird fizzy orange concoction that the Scots are strangely enthusiastic about. Can’t say that I particularly enjoy it but I do love the fact that Scotland is the only place in the world where Coca-Cola isn’t the top selling soft drink.
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      Irn-Bru!
  • Fish & chips – I’ve noticed a lot of the chips here have been sub-par but I’ve definitely had some excellent fish on the Isle of Skye.cathy_3.4
  • Tennent’s – it’s not really a true Scottish experience if you don’t go for the occasional pint down at the pub. My go-to beer is a pint of Tennent’s Lager. Kind of like the Speights equivalent in Scotland. It’s brewed locally in Glasgow and I have some very cherished memories of chilled nights out with a pint.

Classes have now finished, as well as my Easter break. Time to actually hit the books and study for exams! 😦 As always, I’m happy to answer any questions you guys have about Scotland and my time here!

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Food, Glorious Food – Tate

To be clear right from the outset: there isn’t a huge degree of difference between food in Ireland and food in New Zealand. (Please try to hold all potato-based japes for the duration of this blog post.)

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The Stag’s Head’s take on fish and chips.

Many well-known Irish staples – such as shepherd’s pie and fish and chips – wouldn’t look out of place on a New Zealand dinner-table. We share a lot of basic meal components, and while a move to Ireland definitely means bidding adieu to L&P, Whittaker’s, and other uniquely-Kiwi products, there isn’t that adjustment to, say, rice at every meal, or recipes you don’t recognise. Plus, Ireland has its own set of stand-out players: most principally, Guinness and Bailey’s – though as someone who doesn’t particularly like either of them, I can’t offer a comprehensive review: only that you can get them in a variety of forms and people always say they’re better in Ireland! (Fun fact: Guinness is brewed in 51 countries around the world, so no matter what your local Irish pub might be saying, it’s unlikely you’ve got a pint directly from my next door neighbour.)

The food scene in Dublin feels similar to that of Auckland, as there’s a lot of variety in the central city, provided you know where to look. Honestly, I’d suggest becoming That Person and scrolling through Yelp and/or TripAdvisor, or even just giving things a cheeky Google – I’ve found so many great spots just from doing a bit of research. Word of mouth is great, too, so once you’ve made a few friends, maybe ask them if they’ve ventured out into any exciting eateries thus far. (If not, make it an activity!)

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Downstairs at Mama’s Revenge!

While I’ve got you here, I thought I’d shout out a few of my favourite places for a specific recommendation, should you find yourself in Dublin:

  • Pub food: You can go into any pub you like and you’ll find good, reliable food. But I’d recommend Arthur’s and The Stag’s Head for reliability and convenience. Arthur’s is a short walk from Binary Hub and it has a lot of options on the menu that won’t break the bank, and The Stag’s Head is a five-minute walk from Trinity if a class finishes up late or if you’ve got something at College in the evening and you don’t want to walk to and fro. If you’re looking less for pub food and more for pubs, my favourites are Bad Bob’s and Frank Ryan’s. Bad Bob’s also serves food, and is packed almost every time I go, but it’s just down the road from Temple Bar and they have live music and it’s always fun. Frank Ryan’s is a five-minute walk from Binary Hub and very small but completely worth checking out – their décor, like Bad Bob’s, is brilliant, and they also have a very friendly dog who practically owns the place!
  • Mama’s Revenge: Placed on Nassau Street, just beside Trinity, Mama’s Revenge is a great spot for Mexican food! It’s fresh, fast, and filling, and you’ll get things cheaper if you show Student ID. (If you’re sitting in, go downstairs! It’s super cute.) (Side note: Dublin is on a bit of a Mexican kick at the moment, apparently – there’s a Boojum on every other street if you’re after a good taco bowl!)
  • The Market Bar: I discovered The Market Bar by accident, looking for somewhere to take visiting friends, and it is possibly my new favourite place. The menu is diverse and not overly expensive, and the restaurant is gorgeous (if you’re interested in getting the ’gram). It’s also near Trinity, so if you wanted to celebrate the end of a hard day/week/month with some friends, this could be a nice way to do it! The food is organised in such a way that it could be shared like tapas, or you could order things individually. Either way, I’d wholeheartedly recommend it!
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Luuuuuvs a burrito with friends after a late class finish!

Those are some quick recs from me re: food in Dublin. There are so many places and all kinds of cuisines on offer (within walking distance, too!), so I’d definitely encourage researching things yourself. For such a compact city, the options are endless.

Catch ya next time!

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Food, Glorious Food – Atharva

There are two options when it comes to food arrangements at the Halls of Residence at the University of Southampton, catered or self-catered. My hall, Chamberlain, is a self-catered hall. The kitchen space I share with my flatmates has drawers, cupboards and basic kitchen appliances such as kettles (for that morning cuppa), toasters (yet to find the setting for a perfect toast, will get back to you on that) and our Lord and Saviour, the microwave. We also have two sets of hobs and ovens/grill.

As for supermarkets, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Coop are where I do my groceries as they are the most convenient and affordable. Speaking of groceries, I’ve discovered that fancy bread tastes really good. I was originally Team Wholemeal, but now I don’t mind paying a little extra for some seeded bread or one with oats and honey. Tip 1: Invest in some good bread! It’s life-changing.

To continue the Pantry Essentials 101 theme, milk here is sold by the pint (1 pint = 568mL), but thankfully they label the bottle in milliliters and litres otherwise I would have to guess how many bowls of cereal and cups of coffee I can make from a pint of milk. On the subject of cereal, they have Weetabix here (look out for the extra “a”), which is exactly like our Weetbix. I’ve currently switched to some hearty Scottish oats which taste even better with sliced banana – and berries, when they come into season. Tip 2: Add fruits to your cereal. You get good, natural sugars and some of your five plus a day.

Finally, Tip 3: Stay away from the Ready-to-Eat Meals aisle! Don’t be lazy and buy microwave food all the time. I know I used to! But then I looked up some easy recipes online for one pot pasta and a stir fry and now Friday dinner is officially  Pasta Night, with extra cheese. We just don’t know what preservatives go into packaged takeaway food and its always best to put in some effort and cook your own meals.

As for restaurants, there’s an area called Portswood which I find similar to Newmarket. There’s the big Sainsburys and then small restaurants and shops, one being 7Bone. 7Bone does amazing burgers and fries combos with a big variety of meats, tofu and falafel burgers along with cheesy fries and bacon fries. It’s best to go with an empty stomach because these burgers are heavy! Portswood also has many small cafés, one being Coffee#1 which as a super cozy vibe. There’s small couches to chill on and tables too, if you want to get some work done while sipping your coffee. The café also sells various cakes and savoury items.

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A Burger and Fries combo from 7Bone. It’s not exactly pretty but it makes up for it in taste!

Last but not least, I have a quick and easy recipe for you guys. I’m not sure what I’d call it. Maybe “Upgraded Baked Beans on Toast”. All you need is some sliced bread, a tin of baked beans, salt and pepper, Italian seasoning and grated cheese.

First of all, pre-heat your oven to about 200 degrees Celsius. Drain as much liquid as possible from your tin of beans and empty the beans out in a saucepan. Season the beans with salt, pepper and the Italian seasoning. Mix well over a medium flame. Lay out the slices of bread on a baking tray and spoon the beans onto the bread. Top with grated cheese and bake until the cheese melts over the beans! This should take about 10 minutes. And there you go! Other versions include adding chopped onions and cooking those with the beans or using other seasons to flavour the beans. It’s really up to you and you have your very own Upgraded Baked Beans on Toast.

P.S. I’ve also included photos of the places I visited during the Easter break.

Thanks for reading and see ya next time!

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Food, Glorious Food – Lucy

Hi guys! We are now half way through the semester here at Yonsei. I am taking three papers this semester, so I have three mid-semester exams spread throughout this week and next week. Some of my friends do not have mid-semester exams for some papers. Lecturers for each paper can decide on whether or not to have mid-semester exams for their taught courses. So, if you are lucky, you will only have a final exam at the end of the semester. Unfortunately, all of my lecturers decided that they would give mid-semester exams.

One big difference I noted is that we do not have a mid-semester break here at Yonsei. There is no break within the semester. The only breaks we get throughout the semester are certain public holidays like Children’s day and Buddha’s Birthday. So, we are powering through the semester with no time for chilling!

Let’s get back to the theme of this blog post, Food! Food here in South Korea is amazing. It’s not only the traditional food of Korea, but also the various different kind of fusion cuisines and foods from other cultures. Food has been the biggest happiness of my life ever since landing here. (Note: It is approximately 700-800 KRW for 1 NZD!)

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4,500 KRW Cafeteria Chicken and Cheese Gratin

I did try Yonsei’s cafeteria food. I heard that the school cafeteria is free for all primary and secondary school students. Tertiary level students need to pay to eat cafeteria food. But the price is very cheap compared to restaurant meals.

A long roll of Korean style sushi, called Kimbap, is only 1,800 KRW, which is approximately 2.50 NZD. There are a lot of options you can choose from. The campus has many cafeterias, which offer a variety of meal options for cheap prices. The menu has slight variations and the menu for each week is posted up on the school website and school app, so you can check the options before heading out to the Cafeteria. I got a chicken and cheese Gratin for only 4,500 KRW, which is only about 6 NZD! The school cafeteria is very popular so there is a huge queue to order. However, the system is very organized, so once you order you get a ticket with a number. Then, you simply wait at your table and when your number appears on the screen, you go pick your meal up.

Other than school cafeteria food, students can take a two-minute walk out of campus to streets full of restaurants. I’ve selected my top two experiences with Korean food, foreign food and dessert to show you guys.

Korean Food:

 

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33,000 KRW Tofu Stew

 

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22,000 KRW Spicy and Cheese Chicken

 

Foreign Food:

 

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27,000 KRW in total for all three dishes. Japanese style cuisine
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9,900 KRW Beef Steak and Pink Beetroot Pasta

 

Dessert:

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10,900 KRW Cotton Candy Marble Ice Cream Snow Ice

 

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1,000 KRW for 3 Fish-shaped Red Bean Bread

I hope I made you guys hungry and mouth-watering by now! I really recommend coming here and getting a taste of the food  here!

I wish you guys – and myself – all GOOD LUCK for upcoming tests and assignments, and I will come back with my next post about my campus life!

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Accommodation Awards – Caitlin

Probably one of the most daunting aspects of this exchange, prior to arriving, was the thought of having to find my own living accommodation independent of any university help. One could say I like to challenge myself, deciding to try flatting for the first IN MY LIFE in a foreign country, with a foreign currency, and worst of all a foreign language. As it turns out that it was a lot easier than I expected (that’s the way things usually go I suppose). I am now settled in an awesome house right in the city centre with 15 other people and things are going great.

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A mural of Venus currently being painted by my talented landlord.

However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing to begin with. In fact, I was living in a different flat for the first 10 days in Santiago, which I had found online before my arrival. On the internet it looked fantastic (typical), however I didn’t realise that the location was less than ideal. With a 45-60min commute to the city centre and no direct bus to my uni campus, I decided the best course of action was to go flat hunting for something more central, quickly coming across my current house! Unfortunately, this led to a rather uncomfortable debate with my first landlord about giving back my prepaid first month of rent (which he obviously won as I am a passive enough person in English, let alone in Spanish). I decided to cut my losses, pack up and move into the centre, where I am today!

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Flat outing to the local park – frisbee games ensued.

Onto the the happier topic of my new house, it is an incredibly large, old-fashioned house in the middle of Santiago central. At this exact moment we have 17 people living here – 1 German, 3 French, 2 Colombians, 2 Nicaraguans, 1 Mexican, 7 Chileans and obviously 1 kiwi! As you can imagine, the house is its own mini melting pot with a mix of cultures from all over the globe. We are also all a mix of students and workers, with ages ranging from 20 to mid-40s, so this balance of diversity means that there is a super buena onda (good vibe). Because we have so many people living here it means there is a birthday basically every weekend – and therefore, obviously a party to go with it – to the point where we have justified turning one of the spare rooms into a discoteca (club), fitted with lights, music and all. Another spare room we have turned into a cinema, fitted with mattresses and a projector! There is always someone around to chat with, cook with or drink with depending on your mood.

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The view from my 3rd story window (the camera doesn’t do it justice I promise).

My bedroom is on the 3 floor (5 flights up, which I consistently think are too many) and I have a beautiful view from my window/balcony of the street outside, especially during twilight when everything turns slightly pink. My favourite part of the house is when I climb through a window on the 3rd floor and sit on the roof top, because our house is one of the tallest buildings on the street, granting it a great view of the Santiago rooftops.

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¡El Tomy, mi gatito loquito! (Tomy, my crazy little cat!)

On a final point, I could not write this blog without mentioning the arrival of our newest flatmate! We recently adopted an adorable kitty named Tomy, who at the time was only 40 days old and the size of my hand (although he’s growing bigger every day!). Being a cat crazy person, who misses my cat in NZ like crazy, this gatito (little cat) brings a little more happiness into my life every day.

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Food, Glorious Food – Lauren

The first thing that comes to your mind when you hear ‘Mexico’ is probably the food. And yes, Mexico has definitely lived up to the reputation.

The Mexican food we have in New Zealand is generally a plate of nachos or tacos alongside a margarita. But let me tell you, this is barely scratching the surface. There are so many more dishes that are super popular here, and I cannot wait to come back home and cook some of them for my family and friends.

Firstly, you hardly ever see nachos here, except in the odd tourist restaurant. Mexicans laughed when I said that nachos are the most common Mexican dish in New Zealand! Tacos, however, are the heart of Mexican food. You can find them in every restaurant and are sold street-side in every town. However, as a vegetarian, I was disappointed to discover I cannot actually eat ‘tacos’. There is no such thing as tacos without meat, so if you want a ‘taco sin carne’, you order a quesadilla (essentially a ‘cheese taco’ which is equally delicious) instead, or something with frijoles (beans).

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The base of any Mexican meal consists of a tortilla, meat and salsa. Many different dishes consist of these ingredients but cooked in a different way.

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So far, the best Mexican food I have eaten was when I spent New Year’s with a Mexican family. We had the most delish tortillas with cheese from a state called Oaxaca and all the usual condiments to go with them (a variety of salsas (from mild to very spicy), coriander, avocado, onion, tomato/cucumber salsa). Eating Mexican food with a Mexican family…can’t get much better than that!

Also, there are a few other dishes which are really popular here which are worth a mention (which I had never heard of before coming to Mexico). Chilaquiles is a very common breakfast dish. Different families may have their own variations of chilaquiles, but it is most often corn tortilla chips cooked in a red salsa, served with refried beans, egg or meat.

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Chilaquiles I had in a restaurant in a beach-side town.

Another is Elote, found in most markets and street side, which must be ordered ‘con todo’. This means you will receive a piece of freshly cooked corn smothered in mayonnaise, cheese, chilli, salt and lime (may not look or sound that good, but it tastes delicious!)

I cannot finish without mentioning tequila. I am living in the state of Jalisco, and about 1 hour north of Guadalajara is the town Tequila, the world’s home of the alcohol Tequila. ‘Blue Agave’ is the plant from which tequila is made and is native to this area. It is an extremely popular drink here, with many student events promoting a ‘Tequila open bar’ and the drink can be found at almost every social gathering (along with cerveza (beer) and Coca-Cola). I have not yet been to Tequila for a tour (about 60km from Guadalajara) but I am sure I will before I leave Guadalajara.

Food is a big part of Mexican culture and is always best eaten with friends and family. It is something they are really passionate about, and this comes across when you are enjoying a freshly made dish. Mexico sure is an adventure for the taste buds!

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