By James King
My Go Abroad experience took me to Mexico City, a vast, sprawling and exhilarating metropolis in the heart of the country. Surrounded by mountains and dotted with bustling highways and towering skyscrapers, it wasn’t until I came in to land over the flickering night-time lights that I realised how imposing a city it was.
I hadn’t had much time to prepare for it over the summer as I had been working at home in Bath up until 3 days before my departure. The little time I did have to prepare I spent working on my Spanish and preparing for the placement I’d be undertaking, which was with the British Chamber of Commerce in Mexico. That was nowhere near enough time to fully prepare myself and so I arrived a little nervous. At first every street I walked down felt dangerous and every meeting I attended in Spanish felt a little too difficult to follow. However, I quickly adjusted to the pace of life. Everyone in the office was enormously helpful, and I was given a brilliant insight into life at the chamber. I made phone calls to suppliers in Spanish, I met with British members who were looking to set up businesses in Mexico and I attended networking events and fascinating talks on the economic and political climate in Mexico, which is extremely interesting right now with a newly elected government ready to take power.
Outside of work I gained an enormous amount too. Mexico is a rich and vibrant country and I found its people to be some of the most welcoming and friendly I have ever met. The city itself is home to more museums and galleries than any other in the world. In my short time there I did my best to visit as many of these as I could. Highlights included Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul and the more modern Soumaya museum (pictured right) showing off Carlos Slim’s incredible collection. The city really is a feast for the eyes and was especially rewarding for myself as a keen photographer.
Not only is it a feast for the eyes, however, it is a complete sensory overload. The smells of tacos, tamales and tortas being prepared on every street corner, the incredible food served in every restaurant, the constant noise of car horns, street vendors and the charming mariachi music that is impossible to miss make this incredible city the vibrant, exciting place that it is.
One final highlight that I cannot go without mentioning was a trip I made to Tepoztlan, a small market town south of the city. A narrow street leads you down the middle of it, through a dark crowded market selling everything from dried grasshoppers to sombreros, past bustling bars, tiny taquerias, and shops with shopkeepers as old as time itself. Finally you reach the foot of the mountain of Tepozteco, a seemingly impossibly steep mountain. One hour later though and we had reached the Aztec pyramid atop it. The view was something else.