The 42 Days in Mexico I Loved

with No Comments

“Why would you want to go to Mexico?” – was one of the first things I was asked after choosing to go on exchange with a Global Volunteer project.

This question reinforced my decision to do it, and a lesson learned there I still practice today.

But let’s start with the beginning.

I was an AIESEC member in the local office when I came across 8 international volunteers from different countries. They came here with a Global Volunteer project, where they had to teach about their own culture and English and overall engage and play games with children from an orphanage.

Inspired by their action, I wanted to try it out for myself.

And what place to choose? I knew that if I traveled, it would be outside of Europe. I wanted to experience something way different.

Mexico seemed like the ideal place for that.

The next thing you know, I am already in Mexico City!

My project might not have been as impactful as the one in my hometown for the 8 internationals, but it was a challenge.

Before my arrival, I had a lot of misconceptions about Mexico.

One of them was that Mexicans speak a lot of English. This idea proved to be wrong. Foreign language courses aren’t accessible to just anyone.

And that’s where my project came in. My role was to share the languages I knew with the participants.

It was a great task.

Designing lessons and delivering them in a way that everyone understood (because not everyone spoke good English, some not at all) was not easy, especially not for someone who feared public speaking like nothing else.

Yet, with time, it became easier and easier. I was upset that my project had ended because I couldn’t speak in front of the class anymore. The one thing I feared the most in my life suddenly changed into something I enjoyed.

A Global Volunteer project isn’t, however, all about the project. But it also means to explore the host country’s culture, traditions, and history.

While chatting with the locals, I learned more about Mexico’s reality. The hardships, but also the everyday joys. Which, in the end, I believe overshadowed the problems.

Until then, I never met a country whose people were so proud of it. It’s easy to see why.

Mexico has some of the best food in the world and breathtaking places. And not to mention the nicest people you will ever meet.

And this got me thinking. Back home, many people criticize the country I live in. Yet, after my exchange, I couldn’t stop wondering, “What if, instead of criticizing my home country, I could start praising it and see the good in it? And then the ones around me will think the same and realize it’s a place worth fighting for. And eventually, start taking action to improve things around us.” That’s what I did after my return.

Nevertheless, before concluding my experience, I explored Mexico as much as possible.

I ended up visiting Chihuahua in the north, including Toluca, Puebla, Puerto Vallarta, and Cancun. It was not a cheap trip, I must admit. But back then, I thought it would be my only time visiting Mexico.

Little did I know that to this day, I’d be visiting Mexico 3 more times. Each of those visits would have its own unique adventures.

As for my first, I had the opportunity to experience a quinceañera, Christmas, and New Year in Mexico.

And while everything sounds great so far, some things weren’t as great…but I learned.

I learned I was hit by culture shock a lot. One of the stages of culture shock is frustration, which is the dominant emotion. It took away some of the happy moments I could have during my experience.

Yet, it isn’t a match for the bad habit of comparing. I went on my exchange, expecting the same positive outcomes as the 8 internationals did in my hometown, failing to see the uniqueness of my experience.

I learned these lessons only after I came back home. But I still learned them. I learned about myself, about my limits and capabilities.

Bottom line
My exchange in Mexico has offered me some pivotal moments. It helped me face my fears of public speaking, offering an opportunity to practice it. It helped me open my eyes to different realities and appreciate my family more.

Mexico made me realize life doesn’t have to be so serious, and that I should pause from time to time to simply enjoy life. I am forever grateful for that.

If you find yourself in a moment of your life where you have no clue what to do next, you could do what I did and find your pivotal moment on a Global Volunteer project. You never know what happens if you say yes.

PS: my next trip to Mexico is planned. 


Leave a Reply