During my third year at the IPAG I had to do an university exchange at one of the universities in the school network.
I chose to spend my first semester at La Salle University in Mexico because I wanted to discover a country with a totally different culture from mine, a new continent (because I never been to America) and also improve considerably my level of Spanish.
For me, doing an university exchange is a unique experience and the occasion to travel in a completely unknown country with the aim of discovering it and getting us out of the routine. That's also why I chose to spend it in Mexico.
La Salle University (ULSA) is a private institution of higher education in Mexico.
This university is one of the most appreciated univertities in Mexico because it offers licenses, masters and doctorates in many careers. The campus is very large and looks like an American campus. Thanks to the numerous student associations of the university and the collaborations with companies, there is always animation in the center of the first campus. Every week there are activities or decorations.
For my housing, I opted for a company called "City Rooms". I booked my room one month before arriving in Mexico. This house was located in the neighborhood of La Juarez. I did not like this house so I changed to an apartment located in the North Rome that I found on Facebook a week after arriving in Mexico. I lived in a rent shared with two Mexicans.
At La Salle I chose four clases to study and a Spanish class that I had to follow because I did not have level B1. Also, you should know that all my classes were in Spanish with the exception of the marketing multicultural class that was in English.
During this exchange, I had to face some difficulties. The first difficulties that I found when I arrived were the adaptation to the altitude, the pollution (which hurts your eyes a bit at the beginning) and the time difference.
Afterwards, I found difficulties a little more different. The first weeks I found problems to understand people and to speak "Mexican" Spanish because I did not speak Spanish very well at the beginning. That's why I was very frustrated because I could not express myself very well with others.
Likewise, I had difficulties getting used to the pace of Mexican life, the way they act, think and live. In fact, Mexicans do not live at the pace as the French people. In addition, Mexicans are generally slow in everything they do.
Finally, the strongest difficulties I encountered were the two earthquakes that happened when I was in Mexico City. Fortunately, during this two earthquakes I was in a safe place and the seismic alarm helped us to get quickly to a safe place. Likewise, nothing bad happened to my apartment but all that was very difficult morally.
Despite all these difficulties, I think I gained a lot in autonomy and maturity. This semester allowed me to discover a new culture and a new way of living and I did not find any higher difficulty that prevented me from taking advantage of my semester.
This semester in Spanish allowed me to progress considerably in this language. Indeed, I arrived in Mexico with a relatively low level of Spanish (I could not make three complete sentences) but thanks to the people surrounding me (mainly Mexicans) and to my Spanish classes at La Salle, now I can say that I speak Spanish fluently and can hold a conversation, a debate with Spanish speakers or tell a full story without looking for my words or a type of conjugation. That is why I am very proud that I achieved my main objective.
Also, the fact that I lived in a completely unknown environment, with different people, pushed me to be more open to others, more autonomous and never hesitate to ask for any help. It also gave me more confidence in me. Today I feel more confident to face an environment that I do not know. I had to improvise and sometimes find unusual solutions for people to understand me and that required efforts and creativity.
I think the most important in an expatriation and more precisely in a university exchange is integration. Indeed, this allows you to meet people and other students and to create friendships. For that, you have to make an effort to speak Spanish and be more open to others.
On the cultural level, the numerous trips I could make throughout the country allowed me to discover a large part of the Mexican culture that is very rich.
Visiting places like the pyramids of Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Teotihuacan or the Mayan ruins in Tulum, but also celebrating the Independence Day or the Day of the Dead with the Mexicans, allowed me to immerse myself in the history of this country.
On a personal level, this expatriation made me realize that I am very lucky because I was born, I live and study in a developed, democratic country that is the fifth world power. Also, visiting certain towns and cities, I realized the comfort we have in France.
I think that this experience opened my eyes to the fact that I am proud of speaking French, English and Spanish, of being French and that I am very lucky that I have been able to live in a country located 9,000km from my house.
This expatriation also allowed me to get to know myself better about my tastes, what I would like to do in the future and I learned a lot about human relationships.
So thanks Mexico for all.