So I know I have safely made it to my city, but there are so many things I had to do to get here and so much that I went through that I think it would be valuable to type up. Lucky for me, I love journaling.
I’ll be honest, this trip didn’t feel real for the longest time. I had known for years I wanted to study abroad, but I only realized it was really happening when I was sitting in the airport alone at 5 AM. Not to mention I had a bit of a difficult time with approvals – the state I am living in, Nuevo Leon, happens to have a safety warning in place (meaning my school wasn’t really sure they wanted me to go). Luckily, it only took three extra months of stress to get my travel plans approved!
As a note: Mexico in itself isn’t the safest place in the world, but as long as you take proper precautions and don’t act super dumb you’ll be okay. Monterrey is a lot like any big city, there’s crime and danger, but it’s also full of people who have lived here their entire life and have never experienced any violence. The media always shows the worst that can happen, and while that is important to know, it’s never the whole story.
I realize most people reading this probably aren’t coming to Monterrey, for some reason it’s not the most popular destination for US students. But one of the things I found most difficult about preparing to come here was the lack of information. Monterrey is not a tourist destination or a traditional little Mexican town, it’s a huge city based in engineering and business. There are pretty much no books on this city and very few travel bloggers come here (at least the ones in English). The best resource I found was youtube, gotta love travel bloggers.
I watched every video I could find on this city, which is only about five in total. I could see it was a huge city and there was like one place for tourists to go (the macro plaza which I’ve only just scratched the surface of, it’s on my list for next month). All this means I left the states with very little idea where I was going and what life would be like when I landed.
So, how did I cope? I made up my mind before I had even packed my bags to say yes to as many opportunities as I could. If I wanted to learn about my city and experience life here the best thing to do is throw yourself into it. Maybe not the most calm and collected plan, but man, its paid off. I talk to every new person I meet and say yes to as many things as I reasonably can and have had so many life changing memories in just two weeks. I took all the nerves and doubts I had about my choices and used that energy to plunge headfirst. I’m already uncomfortable here, so adding a little more doesn’t hurt, talk to strangers, try new food, go on adventures. This is how you grow.
My goals for studying abroad was to learn and grow. There is only so much you can learn in a classroom, full of people who have lived lives similar to yours. Studying abroad gives you a new perspective on life, and more than anything changes who you are. Life is about learning, and that requires you to grow, change, and experience new ways of life. My wish is that when I come home I’ll have grown as a person and be able to share that new knowledge and experience with people around me and in the conversations that matter to me.
My advice for anyone taking the plunge and going abroad: when people say its life changing, they aren’t exaggerating, there is nothing that compares to immersing yourself in a new culture. You are forced to learn and grow, it’s hard and honestly pretty terrifying to get on that plane, but the experience cannot be replicated. Take those fears and anxieties and challenge them. Accept the nerves and just push on, use that energy to start running headfirst into your new life.