Rutgers - Science Summer Abroad 2010
Nine Science Undergraduate Students Around the World

Thursday, June 3, 2010


So we’ve arrived in Oaxaca, Mexico and have begun the process of settling in for our one-month stay. We arrived yesterday after a long trip of connecting flights and delays, which was quite stressful and exciting at the same time; I had to take a plane alone for the first time, connect flights on my own, and board a tiny plane that heightened my fear of flying. Fortunately I found the rest of the group going on the same flight, many of who were also afraid, so the plane ride offered a 2-hour bonding experience. We were brought to hostel Posada Don Mario for the night, which was cute and brightly colored, typical of Mexican architecture. This morning we had our first Mexican breakfast together (fruits, coffee and bread, nothing unusual yet!), and had orientation with our ProWorld leader Kacki. At that point, it really began to sink in—we were really in Mexico, a foreign country whose customs we had to get used to and that has an entirely different lifestyle. Later we had our first comida, the large mid-day meal eaten around 2pm, which consisted of soup, rice, tlayudas, tacos, and a sweet fruit dessert. It was delicious and so authentic- I’m definitely going to love the cuisine here. Kacki gave us a walking tour afterwards, showing us around Santo Domingo church, the zocalo and a market full of vendors and interesting products. The zocalo was the most surprising sight of all- it was full of teachers on protest, sleeping under tarps on cardboard to fight for more rights and higher wages. This was unlike something I’ve ever seen…I live in New York so I’ve seen plenty of protests, but none have been as extensive, powerful, and as long as this one (they’ve been here for a while now and don’t plan on leaving well into the summer). Though a corrupt governor lashed out on them in 2006, it seemed like the teachers were now free to protest without much limitation. The reason I probably have never seen anything like this in America is because protests are so limited and controlled that they don’t have a chance to become something so powerful. Moreover, people certainly seem much more engaged here; they’re fighting for something they need and don’t want to give up. I want to learn more about what these teachers are doing, who they are, and how productive their protests really are. My fascination begins…

After that enlightening walk, we went to the ProWorld office to talk to Rogelio, a teacher at the language institute, to get placed into appropriate Spanish classes. We returned to Posada Don Mario, and anxiously waited to meet our homestay families. The Dominguez family came to pick Lisa and I up, and took us to their very traditional Mexican household. They’re a middleclass family with extended family members living under the same roof, including a 6 year old girl named Helen, a 3 year old boy named Nacho, and a 9 day old baby whose name I didn’t catch. I’m excited to live with a host family yet again because it really allows you to immerse yourself in the culture of the country. On a last note, I’m planning on improving my Spanish, eating lots of good traditional food, and becoming close with everyone I meet here.

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