Travel Journal: Mexico
First off, I don’t journal. I’ve never kept a journal or blogged, and my social media skills are surprisingly ingenuous for a normal 21-year-old. Facebook is about as good as it gets...and sometimes that’s not even very good. But when I was asked to journal my experiences while spending a semester in México, I couldn’t resist. When I was looking at colleges, the quality and reputation of Centre's study abroad programs were essential in my final decision. And it doesn’t take a Ph.D. to realize that Centre’s abroad programs are of a completely different caliber.
That is to say that I’m a bit of a xenophile. Studying cultures, and most importantly, experiencing them has been a passion of mine since I can remember. When I was younger, I used to dream of travelling for a living—fantasizing about hiking the 4-day trek to Machu Picchu, photographing the indigenous tribes of sub-Saharan Africa, and harvesting rice from the flooded paddies of northern Thailand. And now, I’m able to delve into a culture that is commonly misunderstood and misrepresented within the American culture—and perhaps most specifically, the media.
When I tell friends and family I’m studying in México for the term, their initial reaction is usually, “is it safe?” While safety is a legitimate concern, their assumptions about the general population of México are a prime example of the misconstrued notions. Yes, there have been and still are drug wars in México. Yes, there are violent gangs in México. No, I’m not bringing a Rolex to barter for my life. But what we as Americans seem to forget is that the negative aspects we associate with our southern neighbor exist in abundance in our own country.
Mérida, our host city, is located in the northern part of the Yucatán, and is internationally known for its peacekeeping efforts. It’s also noted as an official United Nations city of peace. In fact, you can access an article here on the matter. Mérida is one of the most rapidly developing economic hubs in greater Latin America, and is home to over a million people. And while there are some parts of the country that are more dangerous than others, after abundant research, I couldn’t think of a more culturally-rich, opportunity-laden and safe destination for one of Centre’s foreign campuses.
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