Exploring beautiful Mexico

It is nearly the second week of my time here at the Technologico De Monterrey, and I’ve settled in well and having the best time! I have met people from different universities from around the world, and also met amazing Mexican people on a daily basis.

Initially, I did plenty of research before visiting Mexico. I was worried about how the media portrayed Mexico. However, my thoughts were wrong. People here were super friendly, kind and helpful. I felt very safe walking around the city and there was nothing to worry about.   

When I first arrived in Mexico, around 4 days before the program started, I realised English wasn’t commonly used, and I struggled to communicate. However, over my time here, my Spanish vocabulary has improved, and I am able to communicate somewhat more than before. People in Mexico are so helpful and understanding and can guide you through a conversation. This has benefitted me as I have been able to break through a language barrier, and learned to adapt myself in a new environment; a very important life skill! At Monterrey Technology, most people knew English but trying to have conversations in Spanish seemed to be more beneficial.

Everyday is busy here at the university. With classes, assignments, weekly tests, company visits and sight-seeing, days goes by so quickly. I am really enjoying the company visits such as Pepsi Co, and the Wine Vineyards. This is because I love seeing the practical side of International business! The knowledge and experience that I received through these company visits are so valuable because I can view the theory right in front of my eyes, but also see what companies are doing differently from the theory. It is also interesting to see how business varies nation to nation, and how one has to adapt to do business in Mexico, but also the many advantages of doing business in this emerging nation. I would say cultural adaptation is a very crucial feature in doing business in Mexico. 

In terms of the sight-seeing and other activities, we climbed the most beautiful pyramids in Teotihuacan, went to museums such as Frida Kahlo, saw the amazing buildings in Mexico city such as Metropolitan Cathedral, Torre Latinoamericana and Palacio de Bellas Artes, and tasted a wide range of delicious food among so much more! We also did Salsa dancing which was slightly difficult but with practice got so much easier. It was a super fun life activity that I would’ve never got to experience back at home.

It’s been an amazing two weeks and I’m looking forward the weeks to come to see what more Mexico has in store! I would also like to acknowledge and say a huge thank you to 360 International, Education NZ, and the PMSLA for this amazing experience that I’ll remember for a lifetime. Muchas Gracias!

Shanaya

The Beauty of Mexico: Unexpected Surprises

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!

Leonard Hong

PMSLA Crew for Tecnológico de Monterrey
Mexico City Metropolitan Church
At the Presidential Palace
Teotihuacan
Mexico City Central – New Years Eve

James: Sometimes when you can’t communicate, your only choice is to laugh

Before I arrived in Mexico, as part of the 2020 PMSLA Global Business trip to Tec de Monterrey, multiple people told me English was widely spoken in Mexican cities. I never questioned this. Yet within hours of landing in Mexico City, it became clear that I should have.

At one of our first dinners we ordered some tacos (because you know… its Mexico) and when those tacos arrived the waiter told us they were pollo (chicken) as we had ordered. There was absolutely no pollo in these tacos…just shrimp. Of course there was no way we could tell the waiter that this was not what we ordered given the extremely limited levels of Spanish possessed by the people at that table. So we just laughed and ate the tacos. The shrimp turned out to be delicious and we went back the next night and actually tried to order them.

A few days later, I was ordering something from a fast food place and the Spanish was going well. The waiter had seemed to know what I wanted, but then he said something that I did not understand. I didn’t know how to relay this to him. So we both just stood there for about 20 seconds, in absolute silence, before he eventually said “So…are you going to pay for this meal?” All of his colleagues burst into tears, and so did everyone I was having dinner with. The only thing I could do at that point was laugh at my own awkwardness.

These types of encounters should not discourage anyone from taking part in the PMSLA program. Struggling to communicate can take you out of your comfort zone, but that’s one of the reasons to go overseas on this type of trip. I have taken a lot from my first two weeks in Mexico, but above all I have learnt that Mexican people are incredibly nice, welcoming and willing to help people work through this language barrier. For anyone that has chance experience another culture as part of the PMSLA program, I could not recommend it more.

James McIntosh

An open mind is the best accessory – Mexico 2020

What an adventure! My experience in Mexico so far has been vastly different to my expectations. At home we were warned to be extra careful with ourselves and our belongings. The media depicts Mexico as either pretty beaches full of tourists (Cancun, Tulum, Puerto Vallarta) or a country riddled with gangs, drugs, poverty and crime, but this is far from the truth.

Week 1: Mexico City

Coming in with an open mind, I was blown away by Mexico’s beauty. Flying over the farmland, mountains and desert it was instantly breath-taking. We landed in Mexico City and made our way to Santa Fe in an Uber. Santa Fe is a very safe neighbourhood, so it was wonderful being able to take in the views of the rest of the city and how life is done on the drive there. We quickly established that not everyone speaks English, and my Spanish skills were put to the test.  Mexico City is absolutely incredible, from the crazy traffic, to the bustling street markets to the beautifully designed churches and castles, it’s definitely not a place to be missed. Xochimilco Trajineras was the absolute highlight of the week. Sitting on a brightly painted paint floating down a canal while listening to mariachi bands and sipping on wine with the girls was definitely the best way to spend our Saturday afternoon.

Xochimilco Trajineras

Week 2: Queretaro

Week 2 saw us pack up and head to Queretaro, about 5 hours from Mexico City. Adjusting to life on campus was eye opening. It felt like being 16 again, no guests, boys, or alcohol allowed in your room, and a person like an RA could come in to check on us at any time. As I adjusted to campus life, I found myself enjoying the classes and also the close proximity to everything. So different to home, you really could stay on campus for a whole week without needing to leave, the gym is fantastic, there are several food options and even the cutest little bicycles to get around on! Queretaro is a beautiful city to explore, with wide roads, beautiful sunsets and lovely people.

I’ve learnt that there is so much more to the world than what we see in the media. While I know we are being sheltered to some extent and only shown the best of what Mexico has to offer, I haven’t for a second felt unsafe. Mexico is a stunning country and I can’t wait to keep exploring. One of the best things about this trip is the people too, couldn’t have asked for a better bunch to explore with!

Bree Wesselink