By Stephanie Fimbres
For Alejandra Medina, going to Texas A&M International University was more than just attending classes, meetings, or anything school related. She had a curiosity to travel, explore, and learn from other cultures other than Mexican and American. Fortunately, Medina had the opportunity to participate in the study abroad program in Chile, Argentina and. Uruguay on Wintermester 2014.
“My life has changed since then, I am not the same person I was before going. Now, I want to travel even more, and I also became more adventurous”, she said.
The first country she traveled to was Chile, which is now one of her favorite countries. She learned from their culture, customs, politics, food, people, and behaviors.
“The people from Chile know a lot of their culture and they are very similar to the Mexican customs. My roommate Monica and I were very happy and welcomed by our Chilean family. We felt like if we were at home because our family was so nice and sweet to us. Our conversations were really interesting and we had some nights where we almost had no sleep because we couldn’t believe we were there”, she explained.
One of the things she says she misses the most is how healthy the food was and how people walk a lot over there. She tried all sorts of food, and it was surprising for her to see how they prepared the food without any condiments, or the way they would name their plates. Something that amazed her the most was how much people are aware of what is going on in their government. She said they can go freely and research about any topic involving politics.
Furthermore, even though the trip was for only three weeks, she enjoyed every minute she spent in the three countries. She missed her family and favorite food, but she would come back and repeat it over and over again.
“The students that went were so nice to each other and this made it easier to get along because we transformed into a family during those 3 weeks, even with our professors”, she said.
She remembers how fulfilling it was to experience and learn, but at the same time have fun. Likewise, she misses the lectures because she learned day by day about different things from the Latin American culture, and learned even more throughout the excursions.
“Some days, I have flashbacks and I wish I could go back there. I really recommend all my friends to study abroad while they are at school because not only will they gain an awesome learning experience, but they will help and inspire other students to study abroad”, she said.
Since then, her perspective towards life has changed dramatically. It made her love even more where she was raised, Mexico. She also learned to appreciate more the opportunities that the United States brings to us because one would think that in other countries they have the same facilities as us, but unfortunately they do not.
Also, visiting Argentina and Uruguay helped her to admire more the beauty of the world. After her experience in South America, she is more aware of everything around her, and would like to expand her knowledge even more as well as inspire others.
“There is so much in the world to be discovered and we have a lot of opportunities right here in front of us. I remember we met ‘las viejitas de la Plaza de Mayo’, they are women in their majority who are still looking for justice for individuals who were killed, or disappeared, during a dictatorship. I was able to meet them by coincidence and take pictures with, and I greatly admire them. Also, they had this museum with the pictures and names of every single missing person. One could feel empathy towards them because they could transmit their pain through their words”, she explained.
Alejandra Medina encourages every student to study abroad and discover the world because it is surrounded by numerous cultures and traditions. There are many opportunities that our school provides us with. Take advantage of the help offered and remember that it is never too late to do it. It is a very fun and amazing experience.