After spending a month in Mexico City in order to complete a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course, I began teaching English in Monterrey where I spent several months. Whilst in Monterrey I often donned my cowboy hat and boots and headed to the local rodeos, danced to the accordion rhythms of norteño and tejano (Tex-Mex) music and spent time out in the country riding horses and driving around in pick-up trucks – a true experience of northern Mexico. I thoroughly enjoyed the local speciality cabrito (roasted goat kid).
After my time in Monterrey, I swapped the semi-desert scenery for the lush green valleys and sierras of southern Mexico. I spent a few months living with an indigenous family in the remote Sierra Mixteca in Oaxaca.
I also had the chance to spend time in the picturesque colonial state capital and some beautiful, unspoilt coastal areas. I was made to feel very much at home in Oaxaca and I was adventurous enough to try local specialities such as chapulines (grasshoppers), tamal de iguana (tamales with iguana meat) and pulque (an alcoholic drink made from the fermented sap of the maguey plant).
I also spent time travelling around other areas of the country (mainly the north) and across the south-west United States. I wrote my dissertation on the development of corridos (traditional ballads) and their relation to narcocultura (drug smuggling culture). As part of my research I was able to interview famous artists, record producers, promoters, songwriters and actors.
SOCLAS students can read further accounts of year abroad experiences here.