You know the saying ‘time flies when you’re having fun’? Well no truer words can describe my first 6 months here in Mexico. I’ll be honest with you. I had mixed feelings about coming to Mexico. At first I was over the moon, then I didn’t even want to go. But now I can say that coming to Mexico has been one of the best decisions that I’ve made.
1. Your comfort zone will only hold you back
I have been incredibly comfortable in my comfort zone for so long. I’m talking Sunday night with a bag of Cheetos, hot chocolate with marshmallows covered with a massive blanket type of comfortable. And that level of comfort has made me so scared to try things I’ve never done before. Don’t get me wrong, I can talk-the-talk about how excited I am about the idea of climbing a mountain or jumping off a cliff into a massive lake but walking-the-walk is a completely different story. It’s taking a while but I’m getting there. I’m learning that being fearless isn’t about the absence of fear but about running straight to your fears and doing it anyways!!!
2. You WILL spend all your money on food, and that’s okay.
I love food. It’s as simple as that. I love food and I love to eat so Mexico is the perfect place for my stomach…but not so much for my bank account. But that’s okay because eating is basically half of the experience of travelling. I think of it this way, when am I ever going to eat pollo con mole in Mexico City or mucbil pollo from a traditional Yucateco restaurant in Merida again? I don’t know either. So I’m pretty okay with spending all my money on food.
3. The Spanish that I learned at school doesn’t work in Mexico
Listen, I know that the language spoken in Mexico is Spanish, I even know that Mexico is the country with the largest population of Spanish speakers. But the Spanish spoken in Mexico is a whole different type of Spanish. I know how dramatic that sounds but any person who has come to Mexico or is Mexican and reading this knows exactly what I’m talking about. The Spanish here is literally made up of 100% colloquialisms (or slang). When I got here did I know Mexican slang? Of course not. But you have to learn it to survive here and some of the phrases are absolutely hilarious.
The slang in Mexico is so strong that I’m going to dedicate future blog posts on Mexican slang so stay tuned!
4. Culture shock can make or break you
Despite being given so much advice about how strong culture shock is (thanks Essex Abroad!) I still somehow thought I would be immune to it. I’ve met lots of people from Mexico before, it’ll be great! You know no pasa nada todo es tranquilo. Haha, oh how wrong I was! I would describe culture shock as a slap in the face that you knew was coming but can’t dodge. If I had a £ for every time I heard the phrase “well in Europe this wouldn’t happen” I would be able to pay off my student loan tomorrow.
Culture shock is a phrase to describe the shock you get when you experience things that occur in one country but don’t take place in the country that you’ve come from. And so many things happen in Mexico that don’t happen in England. From a kiss on the cheek to greet people, to not wearing seatbelts in cars, and a whatsapp group chat for everything, going to a despedida (farewell party) of someone who you don’t know but is a friend of a friend, or a timeless Mexican classic – the word ‘ahorita’. What does it mean? No one knows. But it’s all a part of the fun.
5. Be yourself
Yes, this is probably the cheesiest piece of advice all of us have ever been given but it’s something that I have found so important in my first 6 months. I’m constantly on a journey of self discovery and figuring out the things that I do like and the things that I don’t like and it’s a lot harder to be yourself when you’re surrounded by a bunch of people you don’t know and you want to make friends but you don’t want to be the odd one out.
One thing that’s been hard for me is to remember the things that I like doing. I love staying in and watching movies or TV shows or reading a good book with a cuppa tea and I’m okay with that. But the hardest thing that I’m (still) learning is that I don’t need to drink or go to clubs every weekend to have fun. Maybe some people think that’s boring or that I’m not of ‘buena onda’ but that’s perfectly fine with me. The word ‘fun’ has a different meaning for everyone. I’ll be in the middle of the dance floor when I want to be and that might not be as often as other people do but that’s cool too.
6. You’re doing a lot better than you think.
It’s so easy for me to compare myself to others and the saying is right, comparison is the thief of joy. But in all honesty, I think I’m actually doing a lot better than I think I am. I’m in a foreign country 6 hours behind and 8,000km away from home, speaking a language that I don’t speak 100% fluently. But I’m passing all my classes, making new friends, travelling to new places and improving my Spanish all the time. I’d be lying if I said it was easy but I’m doing alright if I say so myself.
These are only 6 of the things that I’ve learned in my year abroad. I am now half way through this once in a lifetime opportunity and I have so much yet to learn. I’m constantly praying for growth as this year continues so I can make the most of every situation I encounter.
Travelling is what you make of it and I’m trying to grab it by the huevos every opportunity I get.
What lessons have your travels taught you?
Abrazos y besos,
Keep up with all the ventures that come my way…