Merida, Yucatan: A Whole New World Past Review

By (Spanish Language and Literature., Berea College) for

KIIS: Merida - Experience Merida, Summer Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
First, my Spanish has improved tremendously from the beginning of my time in Merida to today. I have met so many new people, and made important contacts for possible future internships in Merida. Being in Mexico and seeing the discrepancy between the education in both city life and country life has solidified my desire to change the education systems within Latin America.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The one class I took through the host university was taught much differently than those in the American education system; the class was Etymology I and it was taught through rote memorization. The teacher would write the Latin roots on the board with their Spanish translation and we were to copy them in our notes, write them several times each and memorize them. That was the entire class period. There was no practical application or even out-loud pronunciation of these words.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I think that our program was managed fairly well, especially as the program was set up only months before we arrived, but a couple of the excursions may have been better planned. Also, we should have gotten more forewarning about the details of our independent excursions so that we could start to budget at the beginning of the trip.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host mom was amazing. She helped us in every way she could, and really cared about our safety and enforced our curfew. The house was situated perfectly, right off the main road, only a few blocks from the school, all of the best restaurants, and the bus stop for the beach.

* Food:

Eladios is an excellent place to eat. The waiters will bring out appetizers as long as you buy drinks and the appetizers are not only delicious, but enough to fill up anyone. Cumbancheros is a great place on Friday or Saturday nights because everyone dances to Cuban and Latin music all night. It's a bit of an older crowd though.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

All of the museums and the trip to cenotes were incredible. But the most memorable experience was the week I spent in Chiapas. I got the chance to witness a completely different way of life and it was indescribable. I recommend this trip to EVERY student who goes travels in or near Merida.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I did not encounter any safety issues when I was in Mexico. The only advice I can give is to follow the guidelines given in the beginning of the program or during orientation.

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? Meals were actually covered by my program, but my program often met unofficially for dinner or study groups at the coffee shop. I would say that I spent between $15 and $20 on food per week. Other expenses ranged from week to week but there was never a point when I was lacking any necessities.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? The individual excursions. We were not told beforehand that we would be paying for the trip.


* 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? Spanish 315: Intro to Spanish Literature
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

All of my classes were conducted in Spanish. I also lived with a host mom and three Mexican students, all of whom spoke Spanish. The majority of the population that I came in contact with did not speak English. Overall, I had a great opportunity to practice Spanish over the course of my semester.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Hotel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Be sure to take advantage of every experience; three months will be over before you know it.