Hola, hola! My name is Veronica Rivera, but I go by Vero for short! I’m originally from San Benito, Texas, which is a small town down the Rio Grande Valley and am the first in my family to go to college! This December, I’ll actually be graduating with a major in Youth & Community Studies, minor in Political Communication and teaching certification to teach middle/high school social studies through UTeach Urban Teachers.
Currently, I’m studying in Mexico City with 19 other students through the Mexican-American and Latina/o Studies (MALS) department!
One of the things that makes our program so unique is that we come from different parts of campus, have completely different goals and aspirations, yet the desire to learn more about Transnational Latina/o/x Studies is what brought us together. Another thing to note is that although we are on a faculty-led program, we still get to share some of the same experiences that exchange students get to partake in. We all live in the same housing, which I would say is a mix between dorms and mini-apartments for exchange and/or international students. Also, through a partnership with the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (Tech Monterrey), we are able to use their classrooms, facilities and even check out books, just like any other student! (Fun Fact: I’ve checked out 9 books this summer!)
Moving away from the logistical talk, one of the best parts of studying abroad is being able to visit archaeological sites. We’re talking about places that are thousands of years old and helped shape the way in which more modern civilizations began to form! We arrived on May 31st, 2018 and on June 1st, we were already loading up a bus to head to Teotihuacán for the day. Teotihuacán is home to the Pyramid of the Sun, which is one of the largest structures that can be climbed in Mesoamerica.
From visiting the most famous Frida Kahlo museum (known to locals as La Casa Azul) to stepping foot inside the headquarters for the city’s oldest newspaper and even cheering at the Zocalo as Mexico’s soccer team played in the world cup, each experience brings on a different memory for each one of us.
To be quite honest, one of the things that has taken me the most by surprise is the vast difference in socio-economic class. Mexico City is huge and coming from the U.S., it can be easy to get lost in all the tourist attractions! While there are many wonderful things to explore and experience, it is equally important to get to interact with the people who actually live here. By simply taking the Tren Ligero (one of the public trains you can use to get around the city), you can see how neighborhoods begin to change and the people who board the train, also no longer look the same. You meet people who’ve gone to college and people who have been working at their family’s food stand since the age of 11. The thing that doesn’t change, however, is the magic that each one of the citizens here carries with them.
You often hear about how dangerous Mexico City is, and while you should always be aware of your surroundings, the same can be said about several other places, regardless of the country you’re in. If you ask anyone, despite the over-population, traffic and at times, craziness that comes with the city, they wouldn’t imagine themselves anywhere else. Mexico City will forever remain rich in culture and history that anyone and everyone would benefit to learn from. Never knowing what or who you’ll run into, just visiting once can leave a profound impact on your life. It has for me.
This post was contributed by Veronica Rivera, a 2018 Global Ambassador.
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