Traveling between fiction and reality
Abroad in Mexico for more than a half year, far away from family, friends and your familiar environment can cause several effects on your personality. To experience a new world takes for granted an open mind as well as willingness to understand and accept other lifestyles and habits.
Seems not that difficult at first sight, right? How wrong I was, thinking an internship abroad in Mexico wouldn’t change that much my mind about Mexican culture. Now, after a long period of reflecting, I’ve discovered that believe to know something and really know it are two completely different things!
It´s absolutely NOT recommendable to start your trip with a fixed idea in your head concerning the lifestyle of a foreign country. Feeling too confident about your bias and prejudices can cost you dear and you’ll find yourself in middle of culture shock, what’s the term used among others by Oberg. It describes the psychology process to deal profoundly with the new culture and to get rid of anomalies or arbitrary prejudices.
After arriving in Mexico City I already noticed one cultural characteristic attitude: Sì doesn’t always mean yes! Due to the need for harmony in interpersonal relationships and the fear to be unmasked, in Mexico it’s almost like a rule to answer a question with yes, without differing between: “Yes, you are right”, “Yes, I understand you” or “Yes, I would do it in theory”. Lessons like this you’ll just get in real life situations, by talking to Mexican natives to understand their way of communication.
In the context of the culture shock model, the described situation gives a clear example of what cultural competence consists in: it’s important to perceive the foreign culture without analyzing, to abdicate personal judgment and to accept the difference.
Is Mexico where people are wearing the sombrero, while drinking a bottle of Tequila?...
…an abroad long-term stay means to get to know the foreign culture very close. My experience tells me that host family accommodations are always a good choice to increase you Spanish skills in a fast way. Besides, you’ll have the opportunity to find out more about the every day life and the typical routine of this family. Thus, I discovered another important cultural factor of Mexican people: The family means everything to them and the worth contributed to family members seems to be even higher than for example in most European countries. Moreover, in consequence of the high level of collectivism in Mexico, Mexican people rather prefer to stay in huge groups. Therefore, they are said to posses a high proportion of social sensitivity.
Abroad internship in Mexico
Thanks to my internship in Mexico City I further got the unique chance to become acquainted of the Mexican working methods and habits, which are generally characterized by a high level of power distance, i.e. in the majority of cases the decisive power rests with the high level members of a company. Furthermore, I noticed that Mexicans usually spend more time on Smalltalk than other countries do. This fact is of importance…especially in the commercial field, when it’s up to you to establish a certain basis for a successful business relation.
Mexico is waiting for you
An internship abroad in Mexico is doubtless the best way, if you decide to improve your Spanish skills and cultural knowledge.
For those who are curious now, here some further details about Mexico: The country disposes of countless unique and historical cities like Mexico City, Cancún, Alcapulco, Cuernavaca or Guanajuato etc. These places are evidence of the pre-Columbian Mayan and Aztec culture and give you the possibility to discover more about their origins, traditions and lifestyle.
Adventure, culture, archeology, sports, beautiful beaches and variegated fauna and flora…Mexico offers a wide range of activity possibilities and magnificent places worth to visit.