México is the home of Fergie, and that place your cool older brother went to on spring break that one time. But, did you know that Mexico is so much more than teen party movies and oversized sombreros? Home to a slew of top-notch universities and more than twenty UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Mexico is an ideal place to study abroad. Some of history’s most famous civilizations built societies in Mexico, many of which can still be accessed and investigated by students today. Studying abroad in Mexico offers students a special opportunity to work in and travel to historical sites and cities that made this prominent country rise to power in ancient times.
Made up of a vast expanse of cities and nation-states, choosing to study abroad in México means students will have a wide-variety of options and programs suitable for nearly any discipline at their fingertips. Outlined below are a few of the best places to study abroad in México, which also have the largest number of programs available.
Mexico City. One of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, Mexico City is known best for its cultural diversity, and over 2,500 historic archaeological zones. Students who study abroad in México City during the fall semester can experience Día de los Muertos, one of the biggest holidays and festivals in the country. Several major universities are located in México City, so students will be able to select the study abroad program that best fits their needs and desires.
Guadalajara. The second largest city in the country, Guadalajara is also one of the most important political and economic centers in the region. Nestled in between Mexico City and many popular vacation spots, like Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco, studying abroad in Guadalajara is perfect for students who love to travel and explore.
Puebla. One of the most fascinating locations in all of North America, the entire city of Puebla is an UNESCO world heritage site. Retaining nearly all of its early Baroque-style architecture, and with a strong presence of the mestizo culture, students who study abroad in Puebla can take advantage of all the complex cultural dynamics of the city through strong academic programs in the social sciences, fine arts, and history.
Studying Abroad in Mexico
Due to complex social issues relative to several specific regions of the country, such as the struggle for independence starting in Guanajuato or the student olympic protests in Mexico City, many students elect to pursue courses in the social sciences, anthropology, and women and gender studies. But, there are plenty more subjects to explore during study abroad in México.
Archaeology. Ancient civilizations, vast ecological wonders, and storied traditions are just some of the many reasons why archaeology is such an attractive field of study in Mexico. Students studying archaeology in Mexico will have the chance to visit and explore the very sites they are studying in the classroom.
Music & Ethnomusicology. Students focusing in the folkloric and cultural traditions of Mexican music will find a veritable bevy of locations and styles of music to study abroad in Mexico. From Norteno to Son Jarocho, students can study, listen, and perform some of Mexico’s most well-known music during their time abroad.
History. Focusing your international studies on history opens up a slew of options for study abroad in México, which hone in on a variety of aspects of the field. Some of the famous issues that have influenced Mexico’s diverse history include politics, gender studies, and religion, so all can be explored under the umbrella of history.
Languages. Studying essentially anywhere in Mexico will provide students with the opportunity to enroll in Spanish language programs. Especially pertinent to students of history, archaeology, or ethnomusicology, some universities also offer programs in ancient indigenous languages.
As a supplement to traditional classroom learning, many study abroad programs in México will offer experiential learning opportunities. Students may, for example, be able to participate in relevant volunteer, intern, or even work opportunities during their time in Mexico. Pay close attention and take advantage of every opportunity you have while abroad!
Scholarships & Costs
Studying abroad in Mexico could cost you a pretty peso, or it could be one of the most affordable, financially responsible seasons of your life! The trick is to plan ahead and be budget savvy as you choose a study abroad program provider and a city to call your casa while studying abroad in Mexico.
Some packaged study abroad programs in Mexico will include tuition, activities, housing, AND food (badabing, badaboom). While it may seem like a lot up front, there is a convenience factor of having most of the monetary logistics covered by your provider. If you're looking for the more independent route, you may need to secure accommodations on your own, figure out how to order tasty food (and skip goat brain, unless you're into that), and potentially register to a local language school or university.
No matter the program you choose, you will need to pay for your flights, visas, passports, and of course, a little extra for souvenirs (it's a shame you can't transport tacos al pastor back home so easily, eh?). To mitigate costs, you might consider applying for a scholarship (or dos). Check out GoAbroad's scholarship directory for study abroad in Mexico and get applying today!
Accommodations & Visas
While a few major universities in México will offer students dorm style housing or shared apartment living, in addition to homestays, many schools in less populous areas will only offer homestays or communal housing. Homestay accommodation means students will spend their program living with a host family. This option, while it might seem less appealing to independent students, is actually a fantastic way to assimilate into the everyday life and culture of México; not to mention it can be an extremely rewarding international experience. Most study abroad programs in México offer homestays on a first come, first serve basis, so you’ll want to decide on housing as early as possible!
All students are required to obtain a student visa in order to study abroad in Mexico. As opposed to some other countries and regions, student visas for Mexico are quite easy to obtain, and tend to be inexpensive, especially for American students. Throughout the visa process work closely with the admissions department of your home university, host university in Mexico, and your local Mexican consulate for assistance with paperwork to avoid any snags along the way.
Benefits & Challenges
Communication. As opposed to some other study abroad destinations, communication to the outside world from Mexico is quite easy, and students will be able to connect with faculty, friends, and family with ease while abroad.
Language Barrier. While Mexico is a phenomenal place to study languages, that is not what every student goes there to do, so you will be able to find options to study other subjects. However, students without a background in the Spanish language may find themselves in a quite a difficult situation outside of the classroom (or if they enroll in Spanish taught courses without realizing it!). Double check all language requirements and follow up with faculty from both your home university and your host university to make sure you are qualified and will be able to be successful in your program even if you do not have any Spanish language skills.
Transportation. Public transportation is very available in Mexico, however due to the vastness of the country, students looking to hop around on weekends should be cautioned to plan ahead. Traveling from Mexico City to Tijuana could take up to two days, but taking a bus from Nogales to Santa Cruz is a pretty manageable trip.