Meredith Giel - Veracruz, Mexico
Office Hours: Monday 10:30-11:30am
Program of Study at WLU:
Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in International Public Policy but when I went on my exchange, I was majoring in North American Studies and Global Studies with a minor in Spanish.
Country and School visited:
Universidad Veracruzana in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico
Favourite things about your experience abroad:
My favourite thing about my exchange was the exposure I had to many different aspects of Mexican culture and history. Mexico is a country so full of culture and many different sorts of festivities and I was lucky enough to be in Mexico for the 200th anniversary of its independence and the 100th of its revolution. I was able to take part in these two large events as well as other aspects of the local culture like Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). I also was able to travel a lot and see many different historical sites within the nation. Also, I was able to volunteer while on my exchange with is something I am very passionate about and believe really added to my overall exchange experience.
What did you gain from this experience?
This exchange was a life-changing experience for me as well as the highlight of my university career so far. I was able to meet such amazing people and develop friendships with people from all over the world. I was able to travel to many different parts of Mexico. Although there were some challenging aspects of this exchange, the pros definitely outweigh the cons and I would do this exchange again in a heartbeat. I definitely came home from my exchange with very different perspectives of both Mexico and Canada. Thanks to this exchange, I am much more globally-minded and understanding of cultural differences. I also managed to gain a much greater sense of self and sense of independence.
What advice would you give to a potential exchange student?
Don’t be afraid to try new things. You only live once and you do not want to come home regretting that you had not visited somewhere or eaten something
What was something new you tried while abroad?
While abroad, everything I ate was authentic Mexican cuisine and many of the things I ate were things that I have never tried before. Although hesitant at first, many of the dishes that I tried there are now my favourite foods, like chiles rellenos, enfrijoladas, tostadas, and empanadas.
Another new and interesting thing I tried while on exchange was Mexico’s equivalent of a street meat sausage. Although a very strange combination (a hotdog, wrapped in bacon, topped with cheese, ketchup, mustard, tomatoes and habanero/jalapeño peppers), it was absolutely delicious and a great and inexpensive snack.
How did you find the change (if there was one) in the schooling system and classes?
One very obvious difference in my classes while on exchange was the language. All of the classes that I took while on exchange were in Spanish which was very difficult at first but then ended up being a great way to drastically improve my Spanish language skills. It took some getting used to but once I was able to overcome the language barrier, I found that it was no harder than classes in Canada.
Another difference I found was that as a North American Studies student with a particular interest in Mexico, this exchange allowed me to take courses very similar to those that I would have taken at Laurier while also permitting me to gain a different perspective on the course content. I was taught by professors who had actually discovered artifacts and ruins that are historically important in Mexican history, which I think was very beneficial for me. By being in Mexico, I was able to actually go on field trips to visit the significant sites and museums which I was learning about in class.