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The McDermott Scholars Award covers all expenses of a superb four-year academic education at The University of Texas at Dallas, in concert with a diverse array of intensive extracurricular experiences, including internships, travel, and cultural enrichment.

Monday, September 08, 2008

¿Qué onda? de México - Guanajuato

Well, actually this is not from Mexico. I am safely back in the States (with all my fingers and vital organs) and have enjoyed a nice full glass of tap water. However, my memories are still fresh, so if you choose to read this then yay for retrospective blogging!

I arrive at the airport with the partial group from UTD to be greeted by our uber-hyper link to the University of Gto. Maria Demello. After we were distributed to our respective host families I realized I scored the best one. Señora Lupita Zepeda was my Mexico Mother and she could talk about anything in depth and with simple enough vocabulary to where I understood what she was saying. She has an advantage talking to those with limited vocabularies because she is a child psychologist. The rest of the family was very friendly and the three kids all spoke excellent English, so vital logistics could be communicated. The location of the house was a good forty-minute walk from the University that was too short to justify a bus, so needless to say I toned up with over an hour of walking a day.

The classes at the University of Guanajuato are divided into Intermediate and Advanced. I was stuck in the funky limbo area between the two. The classes themselves are taught in all Spanish, but the professors talk clearly and slowly so there is pretty much 100% understanding among the class. A really friendly and fun professor taught grammar and conversation classes, but there were some major gaps in the organization and the material taught. The history and literature professor explained everything at least three times in different words, which is great for vocabulary increase and insured that we all understood the material. Grading on the whole is very forgiving.

The extra classes that I took included art history, cooking, and dance. Dance is great because you meet helping instructors that then you see at Salsa clubs, yay for instant partners that know what they’re doing! The cooking class is taught by a French woman at her house and the food is super delicious.

Maria Demello introduced us during the second week to her friend Guillermo Chávez who organizes excursions. His prices for his excursions are incredibly expensive for Mexico, but the experience is excellent. Our first excursion was to Teotihucan, Mexico City, Frida Kahlo’s house, Zócalo, and the Basilica de Guadelupe. That was all in one day, four AM to midnight. The second excursion was a hike that we all could have done on our own, but it was good that the guide knew where to go.

Don’t let anyone tell you that learning a language is easy. The plasticity of my brain has definitely decreased since I learned my first language. Understanding others comes rather easily, the tricky part is speaking fluently, with a bearable accent, and without too many false English cognates.

Well, I now have over five hundred pictures to sort through and relive my experience with. All of them are colorful and with excellent memories behind them.