From late night study sessions to exploring the Frida Kahlo museum the opportunity to study abroad in Mexico, and experience all this vibrant country has to offer is a blessing I will never take for granted. Prior to starting my study abroad, I decided to make the most of being in this part of the world and travelled to certain areas of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and a tropical island named Caye Caulker. During these travels to Central and Latin America, I soon realised that what is portrayed in news outlets is skewed to a narrative that was not my lived out reality. These travels taught me the paramount importance of looking past the fabrication of exaggerated stereotypes of what the diverse community of Central and Latin America would look like. Even though it is a necessity to take the standard precautions you would normally take when travelling to a foreign country, I have never felt that my safety was in major jeopardy. Thus, Mexico is a quintessential example of a country who is unfairly portrayed by the news media and needs fellow tourists like myself to spread the word and challenge the media’s perceptions.
To commence our study abroad we started off this journey in beautiful Mexico City at Tecnológico de Monterrey in the affluent business district of Sante Fe. Here, we soon realised that one week would never be enough to explore all that this city had to offer. Even though being a student and a tourist is a balancing act, I was able to visit several attractions such as the Castillo de Chapultepac, Blue Tile House, Mirador Torre Latino, National Palace and several world-class museums. For me, a major highlight was the day after our first exam where in the midst of our busy weekly schedule we got the day off to explore Mexico City. Out of all the tourist attractions the visit to the Mirador Torre Latino was the highpoint as the view at sunset was spectacular and was the perfect way to end a long day of sightseeing. During our stay in Mexico City we also had several company visits including PepsiCo, Kidzana, and in our free time explored the Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacan. During our company visit to PepsiCo we learned about the multinational’s efforts to achieve gender equality initiatives, and were given a goodie-bag filled with their wide-range of products which were utilised to fuel upcoming study sessions.
The journey to our next city Querétaro was one of my highlights of the trip so far, as we were able to visit the Pyramid of the Sun in the ancient city of Teotihuacan. Furthermore, during Querétaro we went wine tasting, took one too many photos at the aqueduct, participated in soap making, and more recently we did a day trip to a town called Bernal where we climbed one of the tallest monoliths in the world. In the city of Querétaro, we also got the opportunity to live in the dorms on campus and experience the life of a local student. In my spare time in Querétaro I went salsa dancing in the city centre, ate delicious Mexican cuisine and explored several local markets. Now I am in the city of Leon which is also known as the World Footwear Capital. The steps that encompass the journey I take in Leon will be ones that will continue to broaden my perspective even further, and for that I’m grateful.
Babitha Gnanakumar (PMSLA Scholar 2020)