Semester — Fall 2019
Application deadline: December 5, 2018
Spend a semester in Mexico and you’re bound to create memories that’ll last a lifetime. By attending a local school and living with a host family, you’ll have the opportunity to skyrocket your Spanish and learn all about the rich, diverse culture and history of Mexico. Being immersed in Mexican society will allow you to get to know the real Mexico, not just the one that the tourists see.
It can be considered inappropriate to request special foods at a meal, so this is a good place if you’re up for anything and excited to try new foods. Mexicans tend to be very community-oriented and you’ll find that most people are helpful and open. Sometimes this might come across as being pushy, but they are really just trying to be friendly.
Your journey will begin in New York City or Miami, where you’ll meet your fellow AFSers from the US, although it’s possible you’ll be the only one traveling to Mexico. You’ll attend an overnight orientation and get a chance to talk with a cultural resource who recently spent time in the region. Then you’ll fly together to Mexico City, where you’ll be met by AFS staff or volunteers.
On the way to your host community you’ll see skyscrapers as well as traditional 19th century style architecture. You’ll get a chance to see some of Mexico’s beautiful and varied landscape including deserts, jungles, mountains, and beaches. In cities and towns all over Mexico you’ll see people hanging out in the local Zocalo, or town square, or shopping at food and craft markets. There are bound to be colorful markets everywhere, with vendors selling clothing, jewelry, and foods.
You might live in a community anywhere in Mexico. If you’re in a rural area you could have lots of host siblings and even extended family living with you. Children often live with their parents until they get married and sometimes afterwards as well. The family is the center of social activity for many Mexicans and you’ll probably spend lots of time with your host family going on trips to parks and museums. Teenagers in Mexico are expected to show respect to their parents and elders so you’ll always want to be sure to tell your host parents where you’re going and when you’ll be back.See where past AFSers have lived
When you’re not hanging out with your family or at school, in your spare time you can get together with friends and play soccer or baseball – two of the most popular sports in most of Mexico. Teenagers also enjoy hanging out in town together, going to the movies, and going out dancing at night.
Mexican food in Mexico is very different from how it is in the United States. Some of the dishes will be recognizable to you but often they’ll be simpler, though definitely not less flavorful! There are also important regional differences in types of cooking. Mole, for instance, is a thick, rich sauce from the Mexican state of Oaxaca that can use over 40 ingredients to make! Wherever you are, though, you’ll see tortillas, rice, beans, tacos, and quesadillas. People in Mexico like to prepare homemade fruit drinks but Mexicans also consume the most Coca-Cola in the world!
You’ll likely attend a private school during your year abroad in Mexico. Students usually take 5 or 6 classes a day and with two short breaks mid-morning and afternoon. Most students in Mexico wear uniforms, so it’s safe to assume you will too. The Mexican Ministry of Education provides the standard and general subjects. Among others, you could have the opportunity to take Mexican history, Spanish literature, or Mexican law. There are usually not many clubs offered through schools, but sports (mostly soccer and basketball) as well as theatre and music may be available.
"Life-changing" is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad.
"Transformed" is another one. When you return home, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and feel like you can do anything you set your mind to. That transformation isn’t visible only to you, though - others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers, ranging from language fluency to intercultural competence and critical reasoning. "Life-changing" means it’s only the beginning.
Please Note: Travel date ranges are meant to help with general scheduling and are subject to change; please don’t book any travel based on these dates until you’ve received confirmation from AFS. All programs, prices, and travel dates are subject to change without notice.