The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Study abroad diaries: Merida, Mexico (Part two)

Over the coming weeks, writer Parker Asmann will be documenting his time studying abroad in Merida, Mexico. Stay tuned for more reporting from his travels.

Before I left for Merida, I was constantly asked why I had not chosen to go abroad to Madrid, London or some other extraordinary option that was available to me; didn’t I want to have fun while I was away? Well, my second week in Mexico has reinforced why I made the decision I did. Now I don’t want this to seem like I’m bashing the other programs, because that’s not the case.

Based on my skill set and what I wanted to get out of my study abroad experience, the Merida program especially stood out to me. Providing a service opportunity was something that was very important to me when I was on my search for a program. After meeting Susana and having my initial interview, I knew that the combination of Spanish and service that comprised this program was exactly what I wanted.

Aside from being in class during the week, Fridays are still free days, which gives the whole group three full days each week to explore and really experience the culture of Merida while we’re down here. At the beginning of the first weekend, it was hard to decide where to start. Left to my own devices, I thought, what better way was there to get to know the town center and my surroundings than to get lost within them? With that in mind, I started off early in the morning on Friday, Jan. 10, and ventured all over my neighborhood of Santiago, as well as el Centro.

Having previously taken a tour of the center with our tour guide Luis, I more or less knew where I was going. Once I arrived, my first priority was to wander back to a coffee shop that I had fallen in love with when the entire group and I decided to sit down for breakfast. Luckily, I was graced with the same generous waiter from before, and I instantly felt comfortable. I ordered a cup of coffee while scanning the area to take pictures. Much to my surprise, people here are much more open with having their pictures taken than I had anticipated.

Given the fact that I stick out like a freshman does in high school, I wasn’t sure how friendly the locals would be with me taking more pictures than I knew what to do with. After a sufficient amount of alone time, it was time to meet up with the other students for some cultural exploration. Countless museums of art, Mayan history and the culture of Merida are located downtown for anyone to enjoy. Thankfully, the art museum that we all decided to file into was free, which had proven to be an important factor in many of our decisions.

Once inside, we were stripped of our bags and our cameras according to protocol. From Frida Kahlo to Diego Rivera, the art museum was loaded with powerful paintings. In addition, several murals were displayed to reflect the pain and anguish that the Mayan people endured when the conquistadors of Spain came in and completely changed their way of life. In all, the visit to the museum was really interesting and it seemed that everyone got a lot out of it. Next up was the most important task of the day – getting Mexican popsicles.

At the time I hadn’t really considered it, but after walking out into the scorching heat with a frozen treat in hand, I quickly realized I was left with only one option: eat the whole thing in a matter of seconds, which wasn’t that difficult given the fresh strawberry taste. The rest of the weekend wrapped up rather nicely with more venturing and more time spent with the group.

Nightlife in Merida is a lot of fun this time of year due to the festival that is currently taking place from Jan. 5-31, Merida Fest. Filled with good food, music and native dancing, it’s hard not to enjoy everything you’re surrounded by while scurrying around the streets.

For more reporting and photos from Parker’s trip, visit depauliaonline.com

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