And for the conclusion, I wish it didn’t have to conclude, what I learned and what surprised me living in Puebla. Mexico. One of the things that I didn’t expect to during the program was the amount of American pop culture there was in Mexico, it seemed everywhere we went people listened to American music and dresses with American brands. It was like being in the U.S. but in a different country. However, something that was drastically different was the sense of time there. It seemed time move slower there and it was fluid. An example would be a meeting was scheduled at say 4 but it didn’t start until 10 or 15 minutes later. This was a constant issue but someone asked about it and they said that’s just how it is here. The street food was delicious, some people might say to stay away from it but I ate all kinds of it. I just told myself if everybody in Puebla eats it and they are ok, why can’t I. If anybody visits Puebla they have to try a Gringa Arabe, which is basically a marinated grilled beef quesadilla with an Horchata as a drink. I wasn’t really shocked with the culture I just felt I was in U.S. but a little bit different and with another language. The cost of living as I saw it was accessible but I saw it in the point of view of an American because everybody I talked to said it was difficult to have a stable lifestyle in Mexico because of the low wages in the country. I can’t say what my favorite experience was but I can truly say I enjoyed every aspect of the program and I would highly recommend it to all the students that want to learn Spanish. My perception of Mexico is different thanks to this trip. I saw a diverse Mexico that has a bright future due to its people wanting to have a better life. I used to see Mexico as a falling democracy with no hope thanks to me not really seeing different parts of Mexico and believing some of the stuff I saw from the news. But I don’t have anything negative to say from my experience there everything was great.


Food in Puebla

Food in Puebla WOW!!! I think I could have possibly ate more than a 1,000 different things while I was there. There was not a meal that I didn’t enjoy during my stay there. Everything was so good I was I could have shrunk everything and flash freezed it to bring it back home with me. I tried every single thing that was put in front of me from chocolate spicy sauce to grasshoppers. There was so much variety in the Mexican cuisine even the foreign food was totally different than it is at home. I tried to try everything possible and I made a point to try food from home to see the difference in taste. I was not disappointed everything tasted so much fresher and it seems nothing was frozen for a long period of time. The pizza, sushi, Chinese, subs, burgers, chicken wings, french fries, even the soda was different. All those things you can find in North West Arkansas I could find in Puebla but you think that just because Chinese food taste a certain way or pizza has the same ingredients at home it’s the same everywhere. In a reality it’s not no matter how similar it is the taste is completely different heck I even ate McDonald’s to see the difference, and yes even the Big Mac with fried has a similar but different taste. In my case I can seriously say this the best part of being in Puebla was the food it was marvelous. These pictures do no justice to the food you have to taste it to appreciate it. I wish I would have taken more photos but unfortunately in some instances I was too hungry to wait even a second. Along the way we found out that there is a bit of a rivalry between the mole from Puebla and the mole from Oaxaca. Mole is a dish that has like 100 different ingredients but the major ones are chocolate and chilies that is accompanied by chicken and rice. I will say this I like mole but the mole I’m used to is a bit spicier and more savory that either of those moles. For my personal taste they were too sweet but I did like the Oaxaca mole more than the Puebla mole. I think I enjoyed the Oaxaca regional cuisine more than the other places we visited. The chocolate Oaxaqueño was amazing and I drank some for a week after we left Oaxaca. We drank a lot of local drinks such as agua de Horchata and agua de Jamaica and also ate a lot of local food such as tacos al pastor and tacos arabes. Another major food in Puebla was the Cemitas which are basically humongous Mexican sandwiches. Churros with café was the go to dessert. I think I’m going to stop there on the food because I could spend all day taking about it. By the way I gained a few pounds or kilos while I was down there.


Excursions on the weekends

  1. We went to a ton of places during the weekend. We traveled to two other states besides Puebla. Oaxaca to me was the best place we went to. Our hotel was right in the center of town, by the way it was a place full of history and architectural beauty. All of us had to share a room with  our roommates or host siblings. The city was just so beautiful and so old. It seems everything there had history attached to it. You could feel the European Spanish influence there but you could also feel the indigenous atmosphere when you walked down the alleys. The mixing of the cultures to me seems wonderful in a way that Oaxaca is truly original. The city was very unique I don’t that atmosphere could be sensed anywhere else. The food was probably the best tasting food I had in Mexico, ever. The Oaxacan chocolate is amazing, amazing in the way you could drink it every day without getting tired of it. We also went to about 4 ancient pyramid complexes in Oaxaca, Puebla, and the state of Mexico. All of them were enormous and looked very complex. Sometimes you wonder how on Earth could people build something of that magnitude thousands of years ago without our tools, technology, and knowledge. But they are there for us to marvel at. Another place we went to was Mexico City the capital of Mexico with about 21 million people. However, while we were there I didn’t feel as if it was that crowded. Perhaps it was due to the city putting new laws to curb the congestion of the city. Nowhere during the whole trip I felt unsafe whatsoever. We ended up staying about a 5-minute walk from downtown. Everything I saw on the news or the media portrayed Mexico as a dangerous place to be, but here we were in the huge metropolitan city with nothing harmful in sight. We went to it seems a million museums, churches, and restaurants during the excursions. The history and culture in Mexico is second to none. We learned so much and in a few cases had our eyes opened by the real history of Mexico not what we had thought our whole lives. Honestly, the weekends really take the stress out of school and work they made us relax and be prepared for the upcoming week.

Guest Lectures about Mexico

Dr. Werner VoigtIMG_1037

We had three diverse individuals talk to us about certain business aspects of Mexico and its relationship with the U.S and a bit of its relationship with the E.U. Our first guest lecture was with Dr. Werner Voigt an American educated German born Mexican resident. I don’t even know where to to start with him he had so much to talk to us about Mexico, Europe and the U.S. His life is so interesting and inspirational he had us all paying attention to him since the moment he started to the moment he finished. By trade he is an international trade lawyer that has worked extensively in the Europe, U.S.A, and his specialty the Middle East. So essentially he speaks 4 languages German, English, Spanish, and Arabic by the way “fluently” we couldn’t make out any accent whatsoever in his Spanish or English. He talked to us about how deeply embedded Mexico’s economy and culture is with the U.S. Another topic that came up with all our guest lectures and in the street is the upcoming presidential elections and how it could drastically change Mexico’s relationship with its neighbor and biggest trading partner the U.S. Mainly everybody talked to us and questioned us over Donald Trump he was everywhere in Mexico. It just amazed me how somebody could speak so many languages and travel the world extensively but it wasn’t an isolated thing almost everyone of our professors spoke multiple languages and had traveled to various countries around the world. Another professor we had was Leonora Guerrero Escamilla. Her main topic was about the border and custom laws in Mexico. She worked for decades for the Mexican government and private companies in the tariff, importing and exporting aspect of businesses. She taught quite a bit on how culture is involved with doing business with the Mexicans and important it is to understand the laws and local customs. And there was Dr. Anselmo Salvador Chávez Capó who was focused on the economics of the Mexican economy. He talked to us about how the banking and finance industry worked in Mexico and again how dependent Mexico was with the U.S. All our guest lectures tied certain aspects that were the same across and made us see the U.S. from the Mexican point of view. Overall it was great for UPAEP to have these individuals speak with us.


Working at La Zarza

So as part of the business program we all got split up into 3 different local companies. Me and three others went to work for La Zarza a cakery company that has 113 locations across 5 states in Mexico. In order to handle all that business the company has to be very organized in every aspect of the business. I was put into the logistics department of the organization. We checked all the transport trucks that came in every day to see if everything was in order the paperwork, the cooling units, even to see if the gas tank had enough for the day. Trucks alternated days depending on what region was to be delivered on that day. However, they went out every single day due to the scale of company. Every day the company made anywhere from 3,000 to 9,000 cakes depending on a lot of factors such as the weekends or holidays which made everybody at La Zarza work extra hard during Mexico’s big holidays. We also got to see how everything is made fresh and by a dedicated team of employees. They tried to make the company seem like a family were every single persons job was essential to the next step. I also helped in organizing some of the invoices to keep track of everything that was going out and to see all the returns the stores made. The whole time I was there I felt very comfortable with the employees and the company. My bosses essentially told me what to do and then let me do it they were never micro managers. They trusted us as professionals and we worked as professionals. The internship was a real job we worked every day Monday to Friday and from 9 in the morning to 1 in the afternoon. Overall it was a great experience to be able to work and help a large organization in another country. This experience helped me with being able to work effectively in a different environment and made me step out of my comfort zone where I had to be completely immersed in the Spanish language in order to be successful on the job.


Daily Life in Puebla

It wasn’t all a vacation and exploring and having fun. We still had to work, learn, and navigate our way around the city. I usually woke up at around 7 in order to take a shower get ready and have breakfast. Lunch is the biggest meal in the Mexican culture with breakfast and dinner being light. So I usually ate some fruit with toast along with a freshly prepared orange juice. Then I was out of the house by 8 in order to catch the metro to then walk to work. The walking to about 20 minutes and the bus ride another 10 but the metro wasn’t always on time so you had to have a bit of wiggle room in there. I would have to be at work by 9 and stay there working until 1 in the afternoon. Then I would walk to campus and have a huge lunch usually a chicken milanesa torta which is a fried chicken sandwich for about an hour. Classes started at 2 and it they lasted until 4 then another 50 minutes back to the house. I would usually go to a park about 10 minutes away to jog a bit at around 5:30 in the afternoon. After that I would go home take another shower by the way it was pretty humid there during the afternoon. Then it was time for reading and homework that was assigned that day from class. Usually I would have dinner with my host family around 8 again something supposedly light but our host mom had a tendency to overfeed us. She was a great cook that made us something different everyday. We would talk for about an hour then finally a bit of free time. Netflix in Mexico had a lot better selection than Netflix in Arkansas. After my me time it was straight to bed at around 10:30 to start another productive day. However, the weekends were completely different. We were essentially tourist during the weekend and locals during the week day. We went to different states and to a ton of museums and churches but more on that on another post.



I just want to say I’m so thankful for the opportunities we were given by UPAEP to have these extraordinary individuals speak with us about Mexico and how it sees itself and how Mexico sees the world. Our primary professor was great her name is Liliana Eguia. She taught us so much about how the everyday language is very different than what we are taught in school through books. She made us feel welcomed and appreciated for trying to be a student in a foreign environment. Class wasn’t terribly hard but it was challenging, she pushed us to learn and use our language skills everyday. We had multiple projects were we used our written skills, reading skills, communications skills, and overall every skill available to us in order to do well in the class. I felt this was better than having written tests where only certain skills were displayed or in a way only trying to memorize things. She really emphasized learning through everyday tasks such as just walking up to someone and just talking. We couldn’t have asked for a better instructor in professor Eguia. There were 10 of us in that business Spanish class and at the end of trip we became very attached to each other and in a way I believe the class structure and the professor had something to do with it. Professor Eguia was very professional and prepared for the class, she was very fluid with how she thought made us learn better, she was extremely attentive in how to help us if we had any difficulties. Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better professor to teach me while in Puebla, Mexico.

My Professor in Puebla


First Day in Puebla

The city of Puebla is so big compared to what I’m used to back home, that’s the first thing I noticed when we arrived. So we did the standard stuff you would think everybody does while studying abroad. Such as, meeting everyone and introducing ourselves and seeing the university. Well just the front entrance because we went home as soon as we got introduced to our host moms. By this time everybody was so tired we just ate and went straight to bed. However, the next day is when we really have our first day in Puebla with going to the university, seeing how everything works, and we are having a welcome Mexican party; we’ll see how that goes. My host mother Natalia was wonderful and my host brother Joseph (Jose) is as excited to be here as me. The first meal was delicious Milanesa which is breaded steak, kind of like country fried steak back home. But, like I said we were tired so we just ate, talked a little bit, and then went straight to bed. Neither of us unpacked we went straight to sleep.


First Day in UPAEP

IMG_1135So, we started the day pretty early in the morning to try to get everything organized. We woke up, had breakfast, got dressed, and headed out about an hour before we had to be in at UPAEP. The reason being was because we had to learn how to use public transportation to get around in the city. We walk about 5 minutes to the bus and then ride the bus for another 10 and then we walk about 25 minutes. All this in the blistering heat, you never really think about how fortunate we are in the U.S. where everywhere we go the a.c. is on so we wont be uncomfortable. It’s the little things that we take for granted back home that perhaps other places don’t have. So after all that we get to the university for an orientation, to get our pictures taken for a student I.D., just the basic stuff to know whats going to happen and what is expected of us. We get a tour of the beautiful campus right in the middle of the city and it is huge with so many different buildings. We see everything that is important the international affairs office, our classrooms, the cafeteria, the sport fields, the church, and all the places we might need in our stay here. So, after all that they take us to go eat, by that time we are all starving, so we eat real actual authentic Mexican food. All of a sudden we are greeted with Mexican tap dancing for about 30 minutes and let me tell you it looked difficult. When that was finished they told we were going to sweat off the delicious food we just ate and that we did. We started off with two pinatas one for the boys and one for the girls, then they told us we were going to learn how to dance salsa. Wow they had us dancing for what seemed like an eternity. Again, when we were done we took the public transport home the same way back. Me and my brother Joseph (Jose) talked with our host family and talked for a while about Mexico’s culture, language, politics, education, and really how everything is here. Our host mother Nathalia also asked us about all the things we asked her about the U.S. It was a quality conversation that allowed us to experience how others think about their country and about our own. I think it is very important to see the point of view of someone else and have an open mind to their different views. Since I got to Mexico I have spoke about 90 percent of the time in Spanish with everybody even the students. This program really is all bout immersion from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep.



IMG_0968.JPGIMG_0969.JPGFirst off I want to say thank you to Dr. Claudia Mobley, the Global Engagement Office and everyone associated with helping me to be able to study abroad. I arrived to Mexico 3 days earlier than my classmates to have some time to visit some family members especially my grandparents. Since I stepped off the plane, memories rushed into my mind about my childhood in Mexico. Vivid tastes, smells, and sounds flooded my vision. I have visited Mexico pretty much since I was born, but I have never had the opportunity to study and actually live here as a I guess you could say a resident of the country, just as a someone passing by. Something that I want to stress to everybody with the opportunity to study abroad, perhaps it’s a bit bad for some, is to sleep late and wake up early to get the maximum experience possible. The three days I was here I got to visit the place where my parents and grandparents grew up and every time I do visit these places I feel a sense of nostalgia; also in a way a sense of belonging here.