Hola todos! My name is Sarah Leidinger and I’m a sophomore currently studying abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico for the semester with the UVM Oaxaca program.
Before I applied for the program, I knew I wanted to go abroad for a semester and had my heart set on doing a semester abroad in Spain during my junior year. I had no plans to go anywhere else, but when I saw an email about an extension of the deadline for the Oaxaca program, I decided to apply. I had little knowledge of what it was about or what we were going to do but I’d had a suite mate my freshmen year who had done the program and loved it. Therefore, I sent in an application in late October on a whim, not expecting it to amount to anything. As it turns out, I was accepted to the program and before I knew it, I was packing my suitcase for Mexico.
We’ve been in Oaxaca for two weeks now and it already feels like a lifetime (in a good way!). Oaxaca has a rich culture and history which we’ve been learning about in class. In addition, we’ve also learned a lot by walking around the city and talking to locals. Last week we visited Monte Alban, an old Zapotec ruin that is thought to have been the political and economic center for the indigenous that lived there nearly 2500 years ago.
We’ve also toured more modern establishments including a permaculture center that is dedicated to serving the nearby community and promoting sustainable harvesting practices. During all this we’ve had some delicious eats including sopa azteca (tortillas, avocado, and Oaxacan cheese in a spicy broth), homemade tortillas, bread, papas fritas (freshly cut potatoes, fried, and topped with spicy sauce) and chapulines (toasted grasshoppers with lime and chile powder) among other things. On top of this, we have spanish classes every day during the week and optional group activities like salsa and cooking classes, free Spanish movies and professor-student soccer games, just to name a few.
To be honest, I was a little wary about coming to Mexico because I had always associated the country with drug lords and big guns, a result of close-mindedness and too much T.V. However, living here for two weeks I have already grown to appreciate the culture and the experience of studying abroad in another country completely unlike my own. So far, this has been much more than I could have expected when I applied 3 months ago.
Hasta la próxima mis amigos!