Final weeks in Mexico- Mimi

In the past two weeks we visited two more cities in Mexico, from Queretaro we travelled to Leon and from there we then made our final stop in Monterrey. Leon is a town known for their manufacturing of shoes so we were super lucky to get to visit Flexi’s production site and distribution centre. Flexi is a well-known shoe company here in Mexico. We got to watch how the shoes were made from scratch, starting with the raw leather materials being cut into the different shapes to the formation of the spongy foam part at the bottom of the shoes. This was a really interesting company visit as we got to see lots of concepts we had heard about in class, right in front of our eyes.

During our free day in Leon we had a day trip out to Guanajuato, a beautiful, bright and colourful town. I got to visit the Hidalgo Markets here where I had the all-time best sandwich served with a crazy amount of guacamole! We ended up spending the rest of our day in a small, quaint bar surrounded by good company, where different street musicians would come in and perform for small tips. It was tricky to find this place as it wasn’t located on the maps but with some odd directions we found off the internet, we were delighted that we made it.  The food at this bar was all grown locally from the owner’s backyard which gave the place a very cosy vibe. This was easily a highlight for my trip in Guanajuato.

Our final week was spent in Monterrey where we got to visit the Bimbo factory. The Bimbo Company is the largest bakery and at this visit we got to watch the production line of the different sweets being made, from the raw products all the way to the packaged product. Our tour guide even handed out chocolate rolls and biscuits to our group straight off the production line.

Anneliese: Smells & Sounds of Mexico

Mexico has some fantastic attributes, it truly has become a place I have fallen in love with. There have been some brilliant memories made and it just so happens that many of these memories come with a distinctive scent or smell. Below are a few of the favourites.

Smells experiences

  1. Tacos
    A range of beef, pork, chicken, and any other kind of meat. It becomes a game of ‘I’m not too sure what meat this is but it tastes good anyway’. The smell gives a sense of delight and continues to intrigue us at every corner.
    The scent of corn is dominant especially on street markets, it’s slightly unfortunate that corn season has just begun back home as I definitely will not be eating it for a while.
  2. Churros
    León celebrated their birthday on the week of our stay. We were so fortunate to be staying across the road from this awesome fair. The smell of churros could be sensed as soon as you stepped outside the lobby, which made for a brilliant wake up motivation.
    Caramel definitely topped the chart as an interesting choice of condensed milk left us feeling a little queasy before our ‘one-day-made’ fair ride. I may add here that the ride was stopped after 30 seconds, in order to kick a few bolts in and then we started on up again.
  3. Sewage
    A common five second blow of sewage comes across on a casual stroll, usually every ten minutes. The further inner city you get, the worse it becomes. It really brings you back to reality when you’re walking through the prettiest inner-city street in Queretaro and get a breeze of your brothers fart after five cans of baked beans.
  4. Beers & cigarettes
    20 pesos drinks (coming to roughly $2 per drink – for any drink) was a real reality that excited us all. A miscommunication one night saw us receiving a 10-bottle bucket of beers for our ‘casual Monday evening dinner’. The smell of beer definitely remained throughout the course of the trip, getting more prominent as the night went on due to the increased spillage.
    The smell of cigarettes lasted even longer, with a slight tilt of the head you could smell it in your hair. Waking up in the morning to the intensity rubbing off on your PJ’s motivated the morning showers to be completed within record time. You didn’t even have to participate in the social smoking to experience this fame and glory!

Sounds experiences

  1. Crossing lights
    The sound of an injured bird is common to let pedestrians know it is okay to cross the road. It was a sound we heard multiple times a day at Monterrey, so we began avoiding the crossing and daring to cross halfway down the road, facing the crazy driving, to avoid the sound.
  2. Jaguars
    The pyramids were a gorgeous trip, full of history, meaning, sacredness and dogs. Among the tourists, there were the common market sellers, selling anything but common goods.
    At this particular trip, the goods being promoted were these frightening jaguar-sounding horns. The first few surprises were hilarious, but after the journey to the top, this had got to be the most frustrating sound in the entire world.
  3. Banging hammers
    Banging in the residences occurred 24/7. We had arrived to Monterrey residence, with a bunch of luck as our kitchen was being renovated throughout the duration of our stay. There’s always an up to a bad situation, as alarm clocks were no longer needed, you never felt alone, and our conversations were never in the hearing distance of someone else.
  4. Screeching Ubers
    I mentioned earlier the crazy driving in Mexico. One experience in particular occurred when another peer and myself were travelling home from a supermarket trip and a near crash accident occurred. I have become accustomed to the lack of safety while driving, however this experience really woke me up from my casualness.
    The second occurrence occurred in a more entertaining way.
    Coming home from a boat trip, on our way to dinner, another peer ran to our Uber, all five of us jumped in, while the Uber driver sat in a state of panic. Thinking that he was telling us off for having four in the back seat, we ran around the other side and continued to pile in. It took us a few more seconds of chaos to realise we had gotten into a poor stranger’s Uber who was just waiting for a red light. It really proved to me that us tourists are actually the scary ones in Mexico.
  5. Karaoke
    Karaoke was a theme throughout the four-week programme. It was a great bonding experience, brought a few people out of their shell and proved that absolutely no one sounds good singing karaoke.
    We never quite got used to hearing a familiar song, only to hear the Spanish translation instead.

    This has been an unforgettable adventure. I will be looking back on these days with a giggle, smile and maybe a wee tear. Every second of the last four weeks has either taught me, pushed me, made me laugh, sing, dance or smile.
    With a classic karaoke song, our favourite bus ride jam and our group meme, there’s no better way to sum up this entire adventure other than ‘It’s a beautiful morning’.
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Mexico: How time flies

Our time in Mexico is coming to an end. How time flies. Over these 4 weeks, so much has happened. We went from Mexico City to Queretaro to Leon and now Monterrey.

In the last 2 weeks, we went to Bernal, explored the beautiful city of Guanajuato, went on very fast roller coasters and ate great food, along so much more. My favourite part was going to the fair! It was full of good food, from nachos to corn on the cob to churros, and not to mention all the little stalls. It was super fun, and the rides were crazy good! Leon was a super beautiful small city, full of colour and happiness. On our last week, we visited Monterrey, it felt more Americanised but is still an amazing city that had large buildings and many mountains. 

The company visits in Leon were truly valuable. We went to the Pirelli and Flexi shoes factory where we learned how companies did business in Mexico. We got to see how two companies differ in the way they do business. This practical lens in very useful, as we’re able to see how companies do their distribution and production. It is interesting to see how automation is changing the game in distribution centres and how this affects the workers. Pirelli also had a lot of women working for them which was really good to see! 

In terms of the classes, I really enjoyed having smaller classrooms. I felt like I was able to get a personal level connection with others students and our professor Anil who has been so supportive throughout our studies. The lecturers at Monterrey Technology have all been lovely and you can see their passion for Mexican culture throughout their teaching. 

Our graduation ceremony was so nice! We got completion certificates, heard speeches from others students and professors. However, it started to feel real; that is trip is coming to an end. Saying goodbye to the other students from the group was really sad, as people in this program came from all around the world. I do hope that the world is small enough so I can see them again. 

This entire experience has been truly amazing. I’ve learned so much about Mexico and its culture, and I have so much knowledge that I can take back. The Mexican culture and its people are so warmhearted, and it makes me even more grateful for this opportunity. I would like to thank 360 International, Monterrey Technology and the PMLAS for this unforgettable experience.

– Shanaya

Monterrey and León

The last two weeks of our trip we visited Leon and Monterrey, both cities were vastly different to Queretaro with more high-rise buildings, they are definitely more industrialised. In Leon we had people struggling with a lot of sickness, there was a terrible cold as well as a stomach bug going around, so we were more run down than our usual selves. There was a month long fair or ‘feria’ as it is called in Spanish, which was really fun, there was delicious food and so many rides to go on (ignoring the sometimes-questionable engineering). There were also markets in the fair which sold some amazing things ranging from artisan chocolates shaped like shoes to fake football T-shirts. Although class did not slow down for us, we were constantly on the move visiting factories or even jazz dancing and playing football (which I am terrible at might I add) it was fun but exhausting.

Two other major highlights from Leon were our trip to the small city of Guanajuato, this was one of the cities I looked up before coming over to Mexico and I was guttered this wasn’t on our official itinerary, so it was a really amazing opportunity to go. The buildings were so beautiful and colourful, we went to many different tourist spots that day including a ‘mummy’ museum which displayed people who were naturally preserved through the processes of the earth they were buried in. I was surprised at how well their hair and skin were preserved, although it was a really freaky experience. After a long day exploring Guanajuato and buying souvenirs for friends back home, we drove back and went straight to a local football game. I actually don’t know much about the game but being there for the atmosphere was enough excitement in itself, it was really amazing to see how supportive the city are of their local team, there was constant chanting and waving of flags, it did not stop for a second.


This last week we travelled to Monterrey, the biggest campus of the university. It was a lot bigger than any of the other campuses we visited. I noticed it had a lot more of a ‘student’ vibe compared to Auckland because we have Symonds street running through our campus. Monterrey also had a variety of animals including deer and peacocks, it was so strange walking around the university and seeing deer in the bushes. We did not really have time to see the city as we lived on campus and our days were packed from nine to five, generally we were quite busy preparing our final reports and presentations. The city is surrounded by beautiful mountains and one of the highlights of our stay here was going on a boat ride at night which was lit up by fairy lights.

On our last day it was so sad saying goodbye to everyone we’ve met from all different countries, and it will be so strange not seeing my roommate Christina every day.
Overall, I’ve had an amazing time on this trip, I’ve learned a lot about Mexican culture and the business environment here, we have one more week of activities with just Auckland University students. I have eight flights lined up in the space of seven days, so I am not excited for that, but I am looking forward to travelling home.

Until next time!
Sophie

James McIntosh – Some random thoughts after a month in Mexico

Honestly, this blog is not going to have a lot of structure. It is more of a collection of thoughts I have had from the last month travelling around Mexico.

I did not spend a lot of time researching Mexico or Tecnologico de Monterrey before arriving in the country as part of the PMSLA program. My views on the country, like many others, had been shaped by media reports and TV shows like Narcos: Mexico. These last four weeks have completely changed that view. I have discovered a country that is extremely rich in culture and history, and a university that is truly leading the way in regards to technology and education.

To be honest, I do believe that we have been in a bit of bubble while in Mexico. The university is completely gated and the local students, while extremely nice, probably don’t give you an accurate representation of the situation most Mexican people face. Luckily we have also had a chance to explore each of the four cities on our own in order to get a more authentic view of the country.

Exploring Teotihuacan


Regarding the program, Tec de Monterrey does really well organising the daily activities, whether that be lectures, dance classes, or visiting local businesses. The program has really focused on the practicality and real life application of the theories we have learnt in class in a way that a normal university course would not be able too. I have also found the lecturers at the university to be really supportive with international students that are coming from universities with different styles of teaching and learning.

Overall, I cannot think of a better way to see and experience Mexico than as a part of the iWinter Global Business program at Tec de Monterrey and with the support of the PMSLA. I have seen four different cities and been able to take part in activities that you would not have access to if you were organising this trip on your own.

James McIntosh 

Technological Disruptions in Emerging Markets: Mexico

As my time in Tecnológico de Monterrey comes to a near close, the learning experience, the physical observations and company visits made me understand how disruptive technology will shock economies around the world… including emerging countries such as Mexico.

Current Senior Minister of Singapore Tharman Shanmugaratnum, who stated that “there is a war against intelligent machines and AI… There is another 5 to 10 years for countries to respond by getting into the game of global value chains.” The Minister was referring to the opportunity window for countries to up-skill their labour force and provide international social mobility for their citizens via initial labour-intensive market activities.

We visited multiple firms including Bimbo (largest multinational bakery manufacturing company), Pirelli (Italian premium tire and automobile company), Flexi (Mexican shoe company), and Neoris (a modern digital technological consulting firm.

All of these firms have some form of artificial intelligence and automation within their manufacturing facilities. For example, in Grupo Bimbo, all of the bakery made in the Monterrey factory were mostly made by machines. Even the packaging system from the package bag to the boxes were all organised by AI machines. The only role for some of the workers were to manage the functioning of the machines, correct errors from the manufacturing process of the machines and some manual labour for moving boxes and finalising the production process.

Flexi facility.

“Automation provides us with wondrous increases of production and information, but does it tell us what to do with the men the machines displace? Modern industry gives us the capacity for unparalleled wealth – but where is our capacity to make that wealth meaningful to the poor of every nation?” — Robert Kennedy

Pirelli office

This was staggering to me. I only thought this problem existed in advanced countries, but I was wrong…. the claims made by Andrew Yang in his book ‘The War on Normal People’ is happening across emerging markets as well.

Technological disruption and job insecurity for low-skilled work is going to get worse as a process. At our company visits, during the question and answer questions, most of the managers expressed their desire for more automation and greater efficiency through machines. This is great news for international businesses regarding efficiency and productivity, but this is terrible for manufacturing workers in blue collar jobs in both emerging markets and advanced countries.

Coming to Mexico was a life-changing experience and helped me understand that there are global challenges. Automation and technological innovation is great for the world, but it has a cost. We must continue to research for public policy solutions to the emerging problem of technological disruption.

As a final word, I would like to thank the faculty of Tecnológico de Monterrey for this wonderful opportunity. Special mentions to Professor Anil Yasin for the workshops, intellectual conversations, mentorship and guidance throughout my time in Mexico.

Award Ceremony for iWinterMX

Leonard Hong

Shisla: The most valuable experience

Today was our last day at Tec de Monterrey.

Four weeks, four cities, 27 students, 5 lecturers. I have to say, I will miss all of it.

It was a great opportunity that I am so thankful to have participated in. In just such a short time, I have changed and learned so much. Of course, I can write paragraphs about the people you meet, experiences you have, the relationships you form and that you will treasure forever. But anyone that has travelled can also write about that.

What I want to write about is the experience of studying in a country with a completely different culture. This is an experience that will help you grow, open your mindset, develop your critical thinking and open so many more doors up in your career.

Before I came to Mexico, most of what I expected included sombreros, Coronas and cactuses. I mean, I was right, there is definitely an abundance in all of that here. But there is so much more to it.

Bonding after a visit to Freixenet in Queretaro.

I learned more in classes and company visits than i would have ever learned just travelling or through research at home. The way classes are carried out, the content, the relationship with the professor- it is all so different, and so reflective of the culture. I feel like this sort of experience is so valuable in today’s world. Globalisation has really brought us all together and it is so important to understand how other cultures think in professional environments.

Especially with the ever increasing relationship between New Zealand and Latin American countries, it is amazing that students have an opportunity to get such valuable first-hand experience. Being here has also made me even more thankful for the support provided by the New Zealand government for students to have such opportunities. It is truly through such experiences that us, young kiwis, are able to continue the development of the great work done by the past generations.

Rebecca: The End’s Not Near, It’s Here

After an incredible month in Mexico our time is coming to an end. Just this morning we gave our final presentations, were awarded with certificates and started to say adios to some of the team.

We have experienced so much in so little time – the hustle and bustle of Mexico City, campus life in Queretaro, hiking monoliths in Bernal, carnivals in Leon, the bright streets of Guanajuato and modern industrialisation in Monterrey. This has undoubtedly been an unforgettable experience from start to finish.

Carnival in Leon
Monolith hike in Bernal
Exploring Guanajuato

Our last week in Monterrey has included two great company visits – one to Bimbo and one to Neoris.

Bimbo is the largest bakery in the world and we had the chance to go behind the scenes and take a factory tour – seeing all their incredible automation and rows upon rows of chocolate biscuits being prepared was a great sight!

Neoris is a digital consultancy firm working with some of the biggest multinationals in the world to help improve their processes. We had a seminar learning about the up and coming tech sector in Mexico and the importance of R&D to sustain a competitive edge.

Beyond that, we also had time at the ‘innovaction’ labs on campus where we were able to see the university’s AI, 3D printing, blockchain and VR technology that is available for all students to use!

Tec de Mont’s blockchain systems

This week’s academics have put focus on understanding the realities of establishing a business in Mexico and the part emerging markets like Mexico can play in creating a better world. Our professor Anil has been incredible to us all throughout the course and I’m so thankful for the time and effort he has put into this program and this group. He takes a hands-on approach to learning, strives to make the classes interactive and involving, and is all too welcoming with any questions we have, no matter how big or small. I will be returning not only with a greater understanding of culture and business in Mexico but also with a revived passion for learning and growth.

A huge thank you again to 360 International and the PMSLA for making this possible. Until next time,

Rebecca

First 2 weeks at Tec de Monterrey

I have spent the last 2 weeks at Tecnolgico de Monterrey after having travelled through Guatemala and Belize in the 2 weeks prior to my iWinter Global Business course starting. So far I have met people from Denmark, France, Germany and Australia. It has been very easy to communicate with everyone in my course and the professors as everyone speaks fluent English which has been very useful. Having studied Spanish at home I had looked forward to the challenge of talking to the locals in Spanish and I have found that it is at the least at a level where I can survive though my vocabulary has been a major obstacle. It has surprised me though that the local students at the University here all seem to have an impressive comprehension of English which has only spurred me on to hopefully continue improving my Spanish. So far we have visited two of their campuses each remarkable. The Queretaro campus especially has been amazing. We have stayed in the halls of residence here and the University as a whole has a strong sense of identity as it is one big campus. The infrastructure in the cities has been amazing and if had not been for this trip I don’t think I would have visited these amazing cities!
The Course work so far has been thoroughly engaging. We have looked at what makes doing business in Mexico unique due to their cultural , social and economic differences. Learning about Mexico’s young population and why it is an attractive and also unattractive destination for foreign investment has been very interesting. The lecturers have brought the content to life in a way I have not really experienced at UOA with an immersive and engaging learning style due to the small lecture sizes which all carry the feeling of tutorials. Away from University, Mexico City and Queretaro have been beautiful cities that I would certainly recommend anyone to visit due to their remarkably beautiful cities. What has been most notable to me is the comparative cheapness of a night out for dinner with a few drinks; with fancier restaurants costing up to $20 NZD for delicious meals and drinks. Thanks for reading! I hope you visit or go on exchange to Mexico someday! George Tate

Mexico, a country of contrasts

After spending a relaxing two weeks in the gorgeous Caribbean sun, on the fifth of January I finally made it to Mexico City the starting point of a four-week journey across Mexico as a student of Tecnologico de Monterrey studying global business. Our first week was spent in Santa Fe, a business district in Mexico City where we learnt about demographics of the Mexican population and why that was important to doing business in the country. We also brushed up on theories of trade and the pros and cons of international business. Some of the highlights of our studies in Mexico City included a tour of MNE PepsiCo where we learnt all about their marketing strategy as well as some of their initiatives to increase female employment in the company – they also gave us each a HUGE bag of snacks to fuel us for our studies (and our upcoming test for that week).

Our other company visit included a tour of Kidzania, where children could play as adults for the day. This included being able to work for money (Kidzos) to spend in the theme park as well as learning skills such as driving. We even got to participate in some of the activities which was hilarious, I ended up crawling across a child sized home to save some mannequins from a mock fire as part of ‘The Fire Defence Force’.  Whilst my academic experiences with the university over here were interesting and engaging, I enjoyed being able to explore the beautiful city in my spare time. Mexico was never on my travel radar before I got this amazing opportunity and I’m so glad I got to experience this amazing country with its rich culture, architecture and delicious food. My favourite destinations were Castillo de Chapultepec and the old historical centre Zocalo the buildings are stunning and are a juxtaposition to the skyscrapers of Santa Fe. The local markets were also such an interesting experience, I made sure to buy a few souvenirs (and street tacos) while I was there. We finished off the week visiting the Aztec ruins Teotihuacan, although our tour guide told us many different civilisations were present in the area at different points in time. The complex consisted of a few different temples and the view was well worth the difficult hike up the old rocky steps (which were very high might I add).

For the moment we have moved on to Queretaro and will be in Leon as of Sunday, classes and assignments have packed on for this week and we have another upcoming test so I’m sure to be occupied for the rest of the week.

Until next time!

Sophie