Colegio de Mexico: Useful and Enjoyable. Past Review

By (History, Harvard University) for

El Colegio de México: Mexico City - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This was certainly worthwhile. My cultural understanding of Mexico was deepened, my Spanish improved (especially my academic Spanish), and my academic understanding of my field of interest is now much deeper. I also got a useful head start on my thesis research, which is already paying dividends. This experience has not changed my academic interests or future plans but rather confirmed them.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload was very reasonable (mostly reading); we did not receive any grades until well after the course had ended. Teaching was done through fairly standard and generally good lectures, and did not differ greatly from the American educational model.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Program administration was run perfectly well; they were relatively uninvolved during our stay but more than sufficient.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

There are a lot of good, inexpensive restaurants in Coyoacan. I would generally refrain from eating food from street vendors.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The program arranged no social or cultural events.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

While relatively free of the drug-related violence that plagues much of northern Mexico and Michoacan, Mexico City is plagued by the regular dangers inherent in such a large city. Walking around after dark was discouraged by program officials and other Mexicans, even in the relatively well-off neighborhood in which I stayed, but I felt perfectly safe during the day. Mexican healthcare is heavily socialized; I never fell ill but I think it would have been pretty easy to access. No vaccines were required.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I spent roughly 2500 dollars on the program, including 400 for flights and 800 for housing. The remaining 1300 or so dollars was spent on food, transportation, and other personal expenses, at roughly $90 a week and allowing for special events / occasions.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I didn't really run into any unanticipated expenses except for fun things (concerts, sporting events, tourist things) - the stipend should be sufficient to cover everything as long as you don't make too much of a habit of taking cabs everywhere or eating at upscale restaurants.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? 70-level Spanish literature
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

Most people spoke some amount of English, but generally did not use it in speaking to me and never used it in classroom settings.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The faculty
  • The freedom of independent research
  • The meals at the Colegio
* What could be improved?
  • Offering seminars in addition to lectures
  • Organized trips outside of Mexico City
  • Social events
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I highly recommend this program for students interested in Mexican politics, economics, or culture, and above all for students seeking the opportunity to do research for a senior thesis involving Mexico. The courses offer material that Harvard does not, the faculty are brilliant, and the other students are generally quite good; the supervised research component is useful and enjoyable. The Colegio is the premier institution of higher learning in the social sciences in Mexico, and the courses, project advising, and research resources are all top-notch. Mexico City is a wonderful place to spend a summer for Mexicophiles and anyone else.