Two of the Study Abroad Office Peer Advisors decided to spend their holiday break in the countries where they studied last year. We were curious, what is it like to return?
Part I: Erin in Mexico
After spending a year studying abroad in Puebla, Mexico, I decided to leave the Oklahoma cold this winter and head south to Mexico for Christmas break to visit friends I had made during my exchange stay. Upon my arrival, I was promptly received and greeted by my friend Raul, whom I had met in the university, and his family, and taken to his home in the state of Morelos. The following two weeks I spent in a small pueblo, Quebrantadero, living the typical Mexican life. Mornings were always a pleasure leisurely waking up and cooking an all-natural Mexican breakfast accompanied by a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. Breakfasts were made with fresh produce purchased from the local markets, leading me to realize I should probably change some of my eating habits back home. My afternoons were usually spent visiting nearby towns and pueblos magicos, small towns across Mexico that have been named for the symbolism, history, and events they offer. I loved strolling through these towns admiring the local crafts, artwork, and food.
Leading up to Christmas Eve beginning December 16th, every night there was a “posada” held at various houses among the town. These posadas are traditional Mexican holidays represented by traditional Catholic songs followed by tamales and ponche, similar to apple cider. Tamales being one of my favorite Mexican foods, I thoroughly enjoyed filling up on them at the posadas. I celebrated Christmas the 24th, la nochebuena, with a classic dinner at home including codfish, pasta, salad, and apple salad for dessert. We attended Christmas Eve mass at the church in the town’s center with traditions similar to my own, except at the end receiving a bag of goodies and animal crackers.
One afternoon we were invited to a baptism party; never had I seen such an extravagant party for a one year old baby. There was a mariachi, dancing, dinner, tossing of coins for the children to receive, and much camaraderie between all the guests. Same thing goes for the wedding we attended the following night. An outdoor wedding in December with a live band and palm trees was nothing less than enjoyable. I even got my turn at a piñata during a carne asada, or barbeque, that we had among friends and family. However, there was one aspect that didn’t seem quite right during my Christmas stay, the fact that it was 85 degrees, sunny, and perfect! I soaked up the sun, food, and life in December during my break in Morelos.
By: Erin Chancey