A week has passed since I arrived in Mexico City and I can say that it has been a fantastic start.
I spent the first two days moving in to my amazing apartment in Roma Norte and walking around in the Condesa and Roma area. I was surprised to see so many restaurants, cafés and bars and parks in the area.
So far I have had 3 touristic adventures that include a tour of the Castillo de Chapultepec and the parks in the area, a boat tour in the canals of Xochimilco and a guided walking tour of downtown Mexico City.
I visited the “Castillo de Chapultepec” which is a beautiful castle on top of the hill in the huge Chapultepec park at the heart of the city. The castle has been turned into the national museum of history. My favorite parts were a beautiful garden on the top floor of the castle and the mural paintings displaying the Mexican American War.
I also went with 2 American exchange classmates on a tour of the “Floating Gardens” in one of the Trajinera boats at Xochimilco (45 min drive from Roma) and enjoyed a 2h tour of the canals. The mariachis and the other musicians passing by in boats nearby definitely made it an enjoyable Mexican experience.
I joined some of my classmates on Saturday for a guided walking tour of the downtown area of Mexico City. The 2h tour started at the zocalo facing the beautiful Metropolitan Cathedral and included different parks, museums, buildings and sculptures. I really enjoyed the tour and it gave me a quick look into the history and the culture of this society.
This week was also my first week at IPADE Business School and included the first day of orientation and some classes. On the day of the orientation I was introduced to the other 23 exchange students that will be studying in the Mexico City campus. Our day started with a nice lunch with 10 local students and some of the faculty members and was followed by an orientation session and a campus tour.
The international student’s office staff at IPADE were very friendly and helpful and planned our first lunch with some second year local students and staff members in order to facilitate our integration in the program and the class. It was obvious that the international student office team had been working really hard to host us in the school and had prepared all the packages needed including bags, name tags welcome forms and the content we would need for all the classes during the first week.
An old hacienda had been transformed into this beautiful campus that included multiple old and renovated buildings and gardens. What really struck my attention during the campus tour was the number of cafeterias in each building. In fact, every classroom has a small cafeteria next to it where some food and drinks are served and a building entirely dedicated to hosting dinners and lunches with business people from Mexico City. I then learned that meals were an integral component of the business activities in the Mexican culture and that a big number of business deals are structured and negotiated during meals.
IPADE has a totally different academic system than any of us had experienced. Only exchange students were allowed to take specific electives while local students were automatically enrolled in all classes. These classes span from Monday to Friday from 8AM to 4PM. IPADE creates this very intimate world for the students where they are provided breakfast in the morning then are require to join a group meeting to discuss the cases assigned for the day before starting all the classes. A very affordable lunch is also provided at the cafeteria which also provides better bonding experience between the students. All students are assigned to teams of 10 students including 7 local students and 3 exchange students and breakout rooms are provided to each team. I met my team members on Friday during the morning group meeting and I have to admit, I have an awesome team! The team members were extremely friendly and directly included me in the conversations and in the team activities. All the classes are based on the case methodology and are very knowledgeable, charismatic and well prepared.
So far I have had an amazing time here and I am looking forward to learning more and discovering this beautiful country and culture.
One thing I should point out is that I am having a hard time communicating with people here as the majority strictly speaks Spanish and my “Hola” can only get me that far in a conversation. Our Spanish professor says we should be able to hold a simple conversation in spanish at the end of the second month so we will see how that goes!