As I first arrived at the Mexico City Airport on the final day of 2019, I expected myself to be constantly cautious, hyper-aware of my surroundings, and being anxious about the ‘dangerous’ country Mexico. All my peers, friends and family back in Auckland all warned me about the perils of Mexican gangs, crime, drugs and poverty.
How wrong were they – So was I.
On my first night, I saw the beautiful city lights, the vibrant street markets, the magnificent Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, the Mirador Torre Latino (Observation Tower), sound infrastructure and polite, kind people. The Uber drivers were especially courteous towards Western tourists like myself, and being in the country for a week made me realise how the stereotypes of Mexico from the West was mainly false. Although there may be some institutional problems across Mexico with high levels of corruption and drug cartels roaming across some parts of the nation, the future is definitely promising.
Walking around the centre of Mexico City with my fellow Kiwis part of the iWinterMX programme was really some special. Being physically at the country, observing my surroundings, talking to locals and the friendly Mexicans was totally different to what I read about back home in New Zealand.
Although the country may not be as developed as New Zealand, Australia, East Asian Economies such as South Korea, Taiwan, Japan or Singapore, the nation is well on its way to becoming an advanced country within the next few decades. With a young, industrious and high-skilled population, I saw parallels to South Korea when I was there in 2005 – Mexico reminded me of a country that just needs the right political institutional development to foster greater growth and development. Local vendors, street markets and even some ‘counterfeit’ goods were numerous, but in accordance with the Flying Geese Model, I genuinely believe Mexico’s potential is promising.
I began my international exchange programme at the Santa Fe campus of Tecnológico de Monterrey. The area is the industrious and financial hub of Mexico City and seems quite similar to typical Western areas. For the week, we went though the perils and benefits of global trade and internationalisation, learned about the Mexican economy and economic system. We also visited PepsiCo, Kidzania, had meetings with people from numerous Chambers of Commerce professionals, and a small medium enterprise Oliva 60 – a soap company.
I was also very much impressed with the education faculty members at Tecnológico de Monterrey. Our main Professor Anil Yasin and I built a wonderful friendship over the last two weeks, and I need to thank him for the knowledge and the wisdom has provided to all of us. He told us that Mexico currently has a promising economy with a young, high skilled labour force with developing democratic institutions. Greater integration to the global economy and foreign direct investment will aid Mexico’s economic development. I very much enjoyed my time here so far, and I’m looking forward to more!