Once I made the decision to study abroad, I knew I would spend my time in Latin America. My studies are focused here, and I wanted to improve my Spanish speaking abilities. Luckily, I encountered a company that offered a program in Oaxaca, México. After researching, I learned that Oaxaca is an important gastronomical and historical center. With a large portion of its population being indigenous, the state maintains a rich, authentic culture and is very politically involved. It contains diverse landscapes, from hot beaches to frigid mountains, and there are plenty of Pre-Hispanic ruins to marvel at. These things fit my interests perfectly, and I was eager to see them for myself.
After the first few weeks, I knew that the aforementioned highlights were accurate, but there were more aspects that made me fall in love with Oaxaca. For one, I had a host family that treated me as their own. My host mother cooked enough food to feed southern México, and she attempted to show me how she did it. My host father taught me to salsa dance, and my siblings took me out with their friends to show me around the city. I made wonderful friends who taught me “the Spanish that really matters,” which was the local slang. I became familiar with the people who worked at the local businesses I frequented. The warmth and liveliness of the oaxaqueños is something I am not sure I will ever be able to describe perfectly; I quickly felt like I belonged and had a home in México. I became friends with the few people that were in my program, and it was great to have people to share new experiences with. We explored the city and its surroundings; we went to the random fiestas in the streets, and we tried all of the insect-based foods. Most importantly, we helped each other through home-sickness and stress when our language learning seemed overwhelming. I taught English to children in a nearby pueblo, which was my favorite detail of my time abroad. I was able to delve into my interests of Mexican history through workshops, museums, and countless other resources readily available to me. I increased my Spanish language skills tremendously, and my desire to become an educator of Latin American studies was solidified. Most importantly, I found life-long friends, a family, and a country I already miss dearly.
When I left for Oaxaca, I had no idea what to expect. I knew that I was incredibly excited—and terrified. The thought of immersing myself into a new land with a different culture and language than my own was exhilarating, yet I constantly reminded myself of all the things that could go wrong. In the end, the few tough moments were insignificant compared to the overall, amazing time I had. Studying abroad is truly the life changing experience it is said to be, and I am fortunate and thankful to have been given the opportunity to study in Oaxaca, México.
Britany Green is double majoring in Humanities and Spanish with minors in Latin American Studies and History. She spent a semester studying abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico through Sol Education Abroad.
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