While coming into college and being a student, I thought I would never take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad. First, I didn’t know what I would study and second, I get homesick too easily. However, coming to Merida for the fall semester has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I have tried things that I would never do or try before like swimming in a cenote even though I can’t swim that well and eating food that I wouldn’t think about eating at home. The first week of being in Merida was a culture shock to me because everything looks so different and it is a different society that what I am used to. The excursions that we took the first week were eye opening because it is not every day that you get to see ancient ruins still intact and even can climb on them. I must say climbing the acropolis is a feat that you will want to have and this is coming from a guy who fears heights as well. The best part of being in Merida honestly is the homestay mamas and their family because they are the sweetest people you will ever meet and they go over and beyond to make sure you are well taken care of. My mama cooks me three meals a day so I don’t have to spend money if I don’t want to and she also cleans my room. She always asks how I’m doing, what I’m going to do, what I want to eat, and if there is anything I need. So, I feel like they see the students as their own children making the Merida experience that much more special. Another thing that Merida is good for is exploring and experiencing with the other students that also study abroad with you. You guys get to get lost in a city with so many things to do and see and in the end, it creates very strong friendships. We all like to get together and go to a bar or the club or the beach and forget about school work.
Another cool part about studying abroad is we get to travel to other countries like Belize and Cuba and not only learn but explore and experience those places. In Belize, we learned about Belizean Creole and different dances within the cultures of Belize but we also went to San Pedro to go snorkeling. In Cuba, which was probably the highlight of my trip, we learned about the Cuban revolution and saw famous castles and buildings. We also went to three cities Havana, Trinidad, and Cienfuegos which each city has its own uniqueness. The best part was we got to go horseback riding in Trinidad which has some of the most beautiful mountain ranges I ever seen. Although it was scary at that moment, I got to see one of my friends fall of a horse and I almost fell of the edge of a cliff but those are experiences that I will have for the rest of my life.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to have studied abroad in Merida because I’ve seen how a group of people from all sorts of backgrounds, with different kinds of personalities and interests, come together to be a group of friends. Yes, we get tired of each other sometimes but I’m sure that we would all agree that the people on this trip are really cool people to be around. We have all strayed away from our comfort zone to develop friendships that will last outside of this study abroad trip. As it is coming to end and finals are approaching, I’m glad I have stories to tell and people to introduce to my family and friends about the experiences I have had with group of people. I hope you will take advantage of the opportunity to create your own.
Centre College in Merida Study Abroad Program, Fall 2016