My study abroad experience in Guanajuato was a bit unconventional, compared to that of my peers. By the time I studied in Guanajuato, I had already graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Intercultural Studies and had been working in an unrelated field for a year and a half. I was interested in becoming a Spanish interpreter, but I knew that I needed more exposure to the language before pursuing that career. So, having already had a fantastic experience with CIEE in Santiago, Chile a few years earlier, I started perusing the CIEE program offerings in Latin America to see what else was available.
“Studying in Mexico really opened my eyes to the deep historical and economic ties between the US and Mexico.”
At first, I was a bit apprehensive about applying, since I was no longer enrolled in college. But, after contacting the folks at CIEE, I was assured that I would be welcome to join the Guanajuato program. Fast-forward to the end of the story: shortly after returning from my semester in Guanajuato, I attended the Interpreter Certificate Program at Boston University and landed a job as a legal interpreter a year later. It’s an amazing, challenging, rewarding career that enables me to keep using and studying Spanish every day and I’m so blessed and thankful to have been given this opportunity.
Studying in Mexico really opened my eyes to the deep historical and economic ties between the US and Mexico. I was able to study issues like immigration from a completely different perspective and meet people who have been directly impacted by these issues. Now that I’m working as a Spanish interpreter here in the U.S., these issues continue to play a role in the lives of the people that I work with.
Gaining exposure to Mexican Spanish was particularly useful to me as a Spanish interpreter, as many court interpreter training materials and exams focus heavily on Mexican usage. Additionally, I found Mexican Spanish fairly easy for my American ears to adjust to, which meant that I was able to jump in and begin having meaningful conversations early in the semester, enabling me to build my vocabulary and grammar skills throughout my stay in Mexico.
“The city is small, so you often end up running into your classmates, professors, and neighbors around town, making it easy to strike up a conversation and build friendships.”
I was blessed to enjoy some amazing friendships in Guanajuato, both with my fellow CIEE students and with Mexicans. Guanajuato is an easy place to make friends, since there are many young people in the city and almost everything is located within walking distance, so it’s easy to get together. The city is small, so you often end up running into your classmates, professors, and neighbors around town, making it easy to strike up a conversation and build friendships. The city’s callejones and tunnels are both fascinating and quirky, and the colors are so breathtakingly beautiful that I found myself returning to the same overlook at El Pípila over, and over, and over again (I went there at least 7 times during the semester!) because I just couldn’t get enough.
While I was studying in Mexico, I used to tell people, “For me, every day in Guanajuato is a gift.” And I really meant it! Nothing could have been better than spending those five months doing the thing that I loved most- studying Spanish and learning about other cultures.
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