Trip Start Jul 31, 2005
4Trip End Dec 22, 2005
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Last week I spent most of the week in various orientations, etc. for all the international exchange students. There are about 70 of us from all over, but mainly from the United States. It was good to meet some of the students because after spending the first couple of days with my host mom, I was ready to do something different.
We went on a tour of El Centro, which is the center of downtown Queretaro, and it was muy bonita (very beautiful). There are various plazas with fountains and statues. The buildings are historic and there are churches on almost every corner
While we were walking around El Centro, as I was passing an old man on the sidewalk he said in perfect english, "You like Julia Roberts." Later that day, a couple of Mexicans that I was talking to said, "You know, you look just like Julia Roberts." So, apparently in Mexico I am Julia Roberts. Hmmm...maybe I should take advantage of this and get celebrity treatment!
Last week, all the internationals spent time together hanging out as a group and getting to know each other. It's interesting for me being a part of the group since I used to observe the groups of international students at my school when I worked at the International Office in Colorado. All the groups from the same countries usually stick together and the same is true in my group
I actually changed houses last weekend because my house was so quiet and I wanted a roommate and a bigger family. It was sad for me to leave my host mom because she was so nice and I did not want her to take it personally. She was sad at first, but I think she understood. There is a girl here (Michelle) from Nebraska that I met and there was an extra room at her host family's house. I wanted a roommate because it is much easier to go places together, especially at night, and if we get lost at least we have each other and we can share cab fares, etc. The house is nice because we have an attached apartment that is separate, so we have our own space. She teaches dance lessons at the house on Tuesday and Thursday nights, so I'm going to go one of these days.
So, now I'm living with a host mom, named Pilar, that has four adult children, two of which live in the house, and there are many nietos (grandchildren) running around as well. My new host mom does not know english at all, so that's both good and bad
One of the thing that I've noticed about Queretaro is that there is not as much of a separation between residential and commercial areas. I guess the zoning laws aren't as strict. So, for instance, I live on a street only with houses, but there is an ice cream shop in somebody's house across the street(yes, unfortunately, the ice cream is really good and cheap, which means I will probably be there every day!). I guess it's more how towns used to be with a lot of stores run out of people's houses.
There are, of course, commercial areas with the bigger chain stores. In fact, one of the things that I've really noticed is the American influence here. There are so many American stores, such as Wal-Mart (of course), but also Office Max, Home Depot. And, at the mall, you could feel like you are in the U.S. with Cinemark Theatres, Baskin Robbins, Chili's, Burger King, etc. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but I didn't come to Mexico to eat "mexican food" at Chili's! We did go the Cinemark last week because Wednesday nights is half-off movie night at all the movie theaters here and so the movies are only $2.50 US dollars. We justify going as a way to practice our spanish since many of the movies are dubbed, or if not, they have spanish subtitles.
So, between the American influence here and hanging out with the other international students speaking in English, sometimes I wonder if I'm in Mexico! We do try to talk Spanish with each other, but often regress back to English. Of course, there are many differences as well. Traffic, for one is really noticably different. Driving (or riding as a passenger for that matter) here is not for the faint of heart. The taxis sometimes drive on the wrong side of the road. And, you know those lines that create separate lanes on the road, well, those may as well not exist because nobody here pays attention to them
What else is different? After being here for a little while, I can really see the friendliness, hospitality, and family-orientation for which Mexico is famous. I have already met many local Mexicans and they are so nice - not just the guys either!:) - and hospitable. I don't think that internationals in the U.S. are embraced in the same way.
The campus here is really nice and a lot smaller than NC State, with only about 5,000 students. And, the nice thing is that I run into people that I have met here on campus all the time and already feel like a part of the school. On the downside, my focus on school is being tested because it is very easy to procrastinate and hang out the whole day in between my classes instead of doing my schoolwork! The classes that I'm taking are: World Politics (a class in English with Mexicans), Mexican Culture (a class in English), and two intensive Spanish classes. I like all my classes so far, but ask me how I feel halfway through the semester!
Well, hopefully you've made it to the end of my short novel here. But, in short (or long), I'm doing well here so far. I've met some people that I feel I have things in common with and of course many of us internationals have bonded as we are all new here. I'm learning my way around the town and am looking forward to what the semester has to offer. I'm hoping to post some pictures soon and will let you know once I do.
I have a new address and home phone number, at which I can receive phone calls, and I also got a cell phone for use in Queretaro, but if you really need to get a hold of me, you can call or send me a text to my cell. So, if you want my contact information, let me know. I would love to hear how things are with all of you!
Hasta Luego (Until Later),