Omer Libich, who will graduate this December with a BA in Spanish, has been in Mexico since January. Here is his report:
Upon arriving in Mexico, I didn't have any expectations other than that of learning the language. However when getting off the plane, I realized just how much I lacked in spite of having studied the language for years. They took me to the house in which I would be staying for the semester, and I met the host family with whom I would be living. I never could have hoped that they would be so nice; I immediately felt welcome. The first couple of days I got to know the area and the host family as well as the other students living here.
Later on, I went to Universidad Regiomontana in order to meet the other exchange students that came to study. The staff is extremely nice and always willing to help with any problem that you have.
They took us on a tour of the city. It's so beautiful, and I fell in love with the mountains that surround it. Little by little I learned spanish better and got to know more people. Some of the friends that I've made, I now feel as if they were part of my family. Within two weeks I had already been invited to an anniversary of a friend's grandparents: "Bodas de Oro," or rather celebrating 50 years of being married. It was absolutely amazing. The culture is so rich and full of life, and it gave me the chance to meet even more people.
Studying is harder as the classes are all in a foreign language, but this helps to learn the language faster and is definitely worth it. I still have plenty of time to spend with my friends and we go out on the weekends to the bar district downtown. The night-life here is amazing as well, it will start around midnight and can go until 8:00 am (a side note for those interested, the drinking age in Mexico is 18). My host family took me to their vacation home outside of the city, which is gorgeous. There aren't as many people and you can see the stars really clearly at night. While I was there, they let me plant a tree so that they could remember the time I had spent there with them.
The best memory I have, as of yet, is going to "Cola de Caballo" or "the horse's tail" which is a waterfall here nearby and a tourist attraction. I went with friends of mine that are from here and they signed me up for bungee jumping. I was really scared at first but they cheered me on, and I'm so glad I did it. They even recorded the whole thing for me. It was awesome; words can't even describe the feeling of having fear of something then overcoming it and having a video to prove it and share the experience.
When the time comes to leave I will miss all of my friends here. I have even made some life-long friends that I'll never lose touch with. I'll miss my host family that has been so kind to me, and I'll definitely miss Mexico and Monterrey. I love the weather here, too, by the way. Most of all, I'll miss the feeling that I got from the people here; feeling like a true Mexican is the best. Mexican pride is noticeable in other people and when I went to visit my parents during spring break even they noticed it in me. I'll never forget my experiences here in Monterrey. I'd like nothing more than to remain in these moments forever.
A note to all those considering studying abroad: Please keep an open mind about living with a host family. It helps your language acquisition exponentially. You'll pick up the language faster than you ever thought possible. Just do it. There's no sense in waiting. It's the experience of a lifetime, and I can promise you that you won't regret it. There are life-long friendships waiting for you here and a rich cultural heritage that has a lot of history together with our own culture. There's nothing to lose and the price is the same as if you were to remain at MWSU.
Here is the link to the youtube bungee jump video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWVdtzMEVUE