Hispanic Adventures: Studying Abroad in Xalapa, Mexico

Katie Appleby ’15 studied Spanish education while studying at Elizabethtown College.  She had the opportunity to study abroad in Xalapa, Mexico.

Katie arrived in Mexico on July 19. To complete their pre-semester course, she and her group stayed in Cuernavaca. On her first day, they visited the school where she and her peers studied for two weeks. After taking a Spanish placement test, her resident director took the group to a waterfall. The group then continued their orientation. Afterwards, Katie and her friends watched a street performer before heading back to their temporary home.

A week later, classes were in full swing. The class, alongside her host family, allow Katie to use her Spanish skills on a daily basis and receive individual attention. She and her group recently visited the Teotihuacán, home to pyramids from pre-Hispanic times. Before arriving, the group stopped in the plaza in Mexico City to talk about the history. Once arriving, the group climbed to the top of one of the pyramids.

As August approached, the group continued to travel. They again visited Mexico City. There, they first visited the home of Mexican artists, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. After that, they visited the historical center of Mexico City. Afterwards, the group visited a church and climbed to the top of the bell tower, enabling them to see the entire city. The group stopped at an art museum before leaving for Xochimilco, where they took a canal ride.

On one of their last days in Cuernavaca, the group visited the mountains and pyramid in Tepoztlán. Although the hike to the top of the pyramid was difficult because of the rocky stairs, the view was worth it.

On August 8, the group arrived in Xalapa. Katie is again living with a host family, whom she already loves. Before arriving, the group stopped in Puebla where they were able to take a tour showing how to make pottery, walk through the market, and visit a reptile museum.

For her semester abroad, Katie chose to take 20th century Mexican literature, phonetics and phonology, intensive Spanish 4 and English to Spanish translation. The university is laid out through out the city and Katie’s classes are held in two buildings.

Katie’s expectations of Mexico were not met. There is much more vegetation than she imagined and more food than just tacos and tortillas. She never fathomed the amount of city traffic and was not expecting Xalapa to be so modern.

While in Mexico, Katie was able to celebrate El Grito de Dolores. This weekend celebrates the beginning of the independence war. On Saturday, she visited a boxing match. The next day, the celebration began. The town leader kicked off the celebration which was celebrated in the streets.

Even with the fun of the weekend, Katie experienced some trouble in Mexico throughout her semester. At one point, teachers protested the new education laws, resulting in no classes for 72 hours. Mexico also experienced tropical storms. Xalapa is high enough that there was mostly rain.

As the months continued, so did Katie’s experiences. She was able to attend a jazz festival in the city and celebrate the Day of the Dead.  She was able to participate in traditional foods and help set up alters. She visited a graveyard decorated for the Day of the Dead during the holiday.

Katie’s experience in Mexico was something she’ll remember her entire life. She recommends studying abroad and visiting Mexico to everyone who gets the opportunity.

*Click on the hyperlinks above to read Katie’s original blog published by BCA Study Abroad on November 5, 2013. The BCA Xalapa program was closed in the fall of 2017. Please visit our website to see our current list of affiliated, semester-long study abroad programs

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