Monterrey – Que pedo, extranjero? Being foreign in a foreign country

On sunny days in Mexico we ride our donkeys to the campus, wear sombreros, drink tequila and sell some drugs, so we can afford our studies back home. Yes, we all know the stereotypes we have about Mexicans. But obviously they are nonsense. Okay besides the Tequila drinking. And weel, maybe you can see all the other stuff in Tijuana.

Monterrey, with its nearly 4 million inhabitants is a very America orientated city. Starbucks, Subway, McDonalds and Burger-King rule the places next to the highways and if you don’t have a car, you are actually screwed. We are four Germans from Macromedia, who are living in the same apartment complex and we are the only ones, who are actually walking to Tecnologico de Monterrey, the university in which we study these 5 months.

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Besides that, there are many other facts, for which many of us weren’t prepared. One of the main aspects is, that people outside the campus don’t speak English even in this city. It’s even possible that they get mad, if you don’t try to speak Spanish to them, so for some of our students it is quite a challenge getting through daily life.

According to our expectations before we arrived to Mexico, which were that people are lazy and unorganized and crimes being a daily matter, we have to admit that we were pretty wrong.

We experienced a very warm welcome, when a Mexican guy from an agency for exchangers picked us up at the airport after 5 hours of waiting in a restaurant close because hour flight had 4 hours delay (Viva Aerobus!). And our second part of mexican experience was a „Don Julio Reposado“ – Tequila at 3am.

Josep Garcia Huerta, our new mexican dad helped us managing tenancy agreements, the orientation in the city and things we needed apart from the basic furniture and the facilities the residence offered. We immediately build up a small family, consisting out of Mexican friends and other exchangers, who we now spend most of our time with. We cook together, organize trips to diverse cities and especially the activities in the vicinity of Monterrey are very estimated. In conclusion, the cultural exchange we experience is simply awesome. Even though we now learned saying „cheers“ in ten different languages, we are still at the beginning.

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The Tec, how we call it, is the most famous private university in Latin America. The first campus was actually founded in Monterrey, that’s why this campus is the biggest and most successful one. About 20.000 students are studying in here and especially the scientific studies take an important role in Monterrey. Therefore we were surprised that you can meet many Mexican students speaking German better than English. Sure it sounds a little bit awkward, because Mexican people kind of sing while speaking, but it is still impressing.

We as Germans were definitely not the only ones with stereotypes about Mexicans. We had to deal with many bad characteristics Germans are supposed to have. They are cold, always angry and solely eat sausages. According to this bad stereotyping, it was our duty to convince them that it is not completely true and we are different. We experience little, daily cultural shocks together and laugh about our expectations we had about each others amazing countries.

Refering to Mexico for example, we never expected to see an employee in a restaurant, whose only function is to open the door when a customer wants to enter. Or an employee at the bathrooms, who just passes paper to every customer. Well, with a minimum wage of 50 cents per hour this seems kind of affordable for the management.

We hope that all other students from Macromedia have a good time during their exchange, just as we have. Here in Mexico we experience amazing trips with locals and other exchangers from all over the world, enjoy the sun and get to know a culture, which is so different from all you can think of. In our case, we also received plenty of heartiness, wherefore we have no other possibility than feeling welcomed and safe over here.

Niklas Franke, Svenja Winter