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!

Babitha: Mexico City to Querétaro

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 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. For me, 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 as cohort 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 the tallest monolith in the world. In the city of Querétaro, we also got the opportunity to live in the dorms on campus and live 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 broaden my perspective even further, and for that I’m grateful.

Hasta Luego,

Babitha (PMSLA Scholar 2020)

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