Kim: The End is Near – Final Reflections

The End is Near – Final Reflections

Scrolling through my photos on my phone there were many bizarre things that happened after my last post.

  1. I ate a scorpion in an indigenous restaurant,
  2. Got my face painted like the Catrina for an interview my friend made for Tec de Monterrey,
  3. Swam with whale sharks and sea lions in La Paz,
  4. “Celebrated” the Day of the Dead in Michoacán
  5. Ran down the ashey Paricutín volcano
  6. Watched Tec’s very extra but wonderful performance by students
  7. Climbed up an almost vertical hike (also a railway) in Barranca el Huentitan

¡Todos fueron loquísimos!

(they were all veeeery crazy)

Can’t believe I was surprised with how fast the Whale Sharks swam
The theme for this show was Britain, Britain, Britain! You could see that both the singers and dancers practiced a lot.

I’m used to adapting as I moved to New Zealand from Indonesia and moved to several apartments already, but it doesn’t mean that I learned nothing.

I realise that I have this sort of mantra I use whenever I’m in an overwhelming situation. I try to be as narrow-minded as possible and think only of stepping forward bit by bit, because thinking of the big picture is overwhelming. For example, if I had thought of how much more I needed to hike towards the top of that railway hike, then I would’ve collapsed for sure.

A couple of times my foot slipped off the rocks and I had to really grip onto a rock or the side railway to hold myself from falling. But all I could think of was, “Dude, you can’t quit or go back now cos that means death,” even though there were still pathways now and then on the side for a much normal tramp. But it was something that I was committed to do once I set foot on the railway. During the times when I took breaks, there were also people much younger than me and much older than me that went ahead of me (because I let them, not because I’m unfit, haha). But breaks are seriously crucial otherwise I might’ve collapsed.

You may have guessed it, and yes, this railway track is a metaphor of your own personal journey. There may be people of all ages that are ahead of you, or improving faster than you. There may also be times when you’re at the edge and really want to quit, and there are feasible options goading you to quit. What’s important is to acknowledge that everyone has their own unique timing, and that what truly matters is not quitting. This applies for nearly everything.

(In the case of this hike, it’s actually very dangerous, so please quit if you’re close to fainting here)

All in all, I think it’s always great to diversify your life, and going on an exchange surely does it well. You’ll find that even on your time off when you’ve got nothing to do, you can at least reflect how far you’ve gone and plan what to do next.

Me at Balandra beach in La Paz, not looking back, rather, towards the future.

Well, this is me. Signing off for the last time. I wish you luck for your own journey!



Kimberly: Trips

¿Qué Onda amigos? (what’s up)

It’s been more than 2 months that I’ve stayed in Mexico so far, and it’s crazy how much workload I’ve done as well as travelling.

I was very darned excited to see all the great architecture in the center of Guadalajara. There’s the Expiatorio, El catedral de Guadalajara, and also fooood.

I’ve got to admit that Mexican food isn’t really my taste, sometimes they’re really oily that afterwards you can feel your throat hurts. Though there are some that you can find around that taste divine (if you go to the markets on Sunday and get the Pozol drink for example).

I’ve managed to travel to some places in the weekends like Lago de Chapala & Ajijic, Tlaquepaque, Manzanillo, Guanajuato, and San Miguel de Allende. So far I haven’t been on the Connexion or Integrate travel agency trips, because I’ve been lucky and found a group of friends where we just took buses or drove to the destinations. It’s much more worth it, since you arrive 2x faster than the travel agency’s busses, and have much more freedom to do the things you want. Though make sure you rent one that doesn’t have a deductible cost and is fully insured because it’s so easy to get into car crashes here.

Manzanillo has big waves that are good for surfing. I heard that the best beach here is probably Puerto Vallarta though.

Guanajuato and San Miguel definitely are very pretty places that transfers you to a more European styled place. Guanajuato is also famous for its artisanal handiwork, and San Miguel has exceptionally tasty churros (get the nutella flavour, not chocolate). Also, Guanajuato is the birthplace of the revolution, but the “grito” of the revolution was kind of anticlimactic. Some people say that Mexico City is a better place to celebrate it, but it can also be very crowded.

However, honestly, beyond the trips, something else that has tripped me up a lot is the university workload. I decided to take 5 courses here and in each course there’s 3 partials. In each partial there is usually an exam, a group project, an individual project, and numerous quizzes – which is hectic. I actually knew about this, but I thought it’d be fine because the standards apparently are so much lower, even if the passing grade is 70%. They are quite easy, but some are challenging and most are time-consuming. Plus, if you go travelling a lot too, it can be easy to burn out.

Something that I’ve learnt is that as you gain more friends here, there will be so many opportunities to go to different cities multiple times. There are also some that have the energy to go to a different city every single week, but I found out that I’m not really someone who loves travelling. There are some places I really want to travel to, but it doesn’t compel me to travel to every place in one go. I know that going on an exchange has this embedded idea that you’ll go travelling a lot, but don’t feel pressured to do it constantly. Just do things at your own pace!

Relájate, estarás bien, güey! (relax you’ll be fine, dude).

Hasta luego,

Kim Thio


Kimberly: The Beginning at Tecnológico de Monterrey

Hi there!

Initially, as someone who’s already lived in two distinctly different countries for a couple of years, I thought that the exchange to Mexico wouldn’t be much. Haha, nope. Everything’s still new and different.

Me, dumbfounded, arriving at Mexico

When I came here to Guadalajara, I was picked up by my Homestay family. Even though I’ve gotten used to flatting since last year, I chose the Homestay option to fully immerse myself in the culture, and family is an important aspect of the Mexican culture.

My Homestay family and I went on a trip to Tapalpa, a puebla mágico (magical village), to celebrate my Homestay mother’s sister’s Triathlon win.

Over there I got to see the whole big family, and they were very warm and welcoming. My Homestay family showed me around, explained what food I’m eating (and gave me lots of food to try), taught me what the shops were selling, and all.

A typical food. The green one is called “nopal” (type of cactus), and the red one tuna (the cactus’ fruit).

My Homestay mother also said that it usually takes students two or three weeks before they fully get accustomed to the country and language. I came with an intermediate Spanish level (I took Spanish 201 in UoA), and even though I stumble a bit when I speak, it’s surprising how little you need to know to get around. Everyone’s also really nice and helpful, so don’t be scared to speak in Spanish!

The coloured bottles have a bit of alcohol in them, and are often very sweet.

I also got sick a couple of times since the second week, but it’s normal. Just drink electrolytes (‘Electrolit’ is really popular), and take some stomach medicine like Omeprazole.

Another challenge was the university life. In Tec de Monterrey you have a lot of workload but they’re not worth much, so you can balance them out with extracurriculars. They even separate the extracurricular area, and call them the “Life” area (hint: get a life yo).

I’ve never done watercolour, but in one class they taught me to do this!

At first, I honestly thought “pssh I don’t need no life”, but they’re free so I thought I’d give them a try. I started with watercolour classes, before deciding that Cardio Kickboxing might be better, since my cheap self didn’t want to buy the equipment for painting.

Tec is famous for its sports, so I was kinda afraid I would be stuck amongst pros kicking each other in their pro ways, and I’ll just sort of be there. Surprisingly, it’s really fun! Everyone’s learning too, no matter how good they are. My body would always ache a day after Kickboxing, but honestly, it’s crazy how fast you get to adapt to it.

I’d say that overall the transition here has been well. I contacted people who had been on the exchanges here and looked at the 360 blog posts, and that helps a lot. Moving to a new country on your own is a very different experience with many challenges. But what’s great is that you’ll see how surprisingly good humans (you too) are at adapting.

Nos vemos,