I have had a huge amount of work these last three weeks. My weeks have been full of final presentations, after final papers, after tasks to return back to campus, and I haven’t had time to sit down to process my thoughts and feelings. However, during my time on UADY’s campus, I have had small periods of free time in between my classes where I have been able to explore different activities going on on campus. I hope this journal provides prospective Mérida students insights into what non-academic life at UADY is like for study abroad students.
There are a couple of main categories that UADY activities fall into. One that occurs often and that I value a lot is mini carnivals where students are allowed to sell products that they produce. For example, whenever there is a holiday or special occasion, like an anniversary of the school’s founding or a fundraiser goal is met, the students and faculty set up table booths and students sell handmade earrings, tamales, horchata, warm drinks, pastries, and many other items. This past week, I attended a “kermes” – a food sale for fundraising purposes – where Tourism students sold food they had prepared for the cooking final. These events are a great opportunity to see the creativity of the community and to support small businesses.
Another category activities fall into is musical recitals! Every other week during my noontime class, I hear live background music flowing through the windows of my classroom. The musical voices of students over microphones was so interesting to hear, and it also allows the UADY community to show how supportive they are of their peers. Sometimes, these recitals are for special occasions, like Día de los Muertos (Janal Pixan in Yucatán), but other times, it is just to have good times!
A third event that occurs around midterms and the end of the year, and one that actually includes study abroad students, is academic presentations. This doesn’t just mean talks given by professionals about their field, but rather looks more like students sharing with the community. For my Literature of Natives People of the Americas, the class recited poems written by indigenous authors during the 16th century. Presenting in front of a community that I am still relatively new to was a nervewracking experience, but I felt extremely supported by the kindness and words of encouragement from my classmates. Something else I found interesting was how we didn’t have a huge turnout. One person showed up to our recital, so everyone rushed to the halls of the university announcing our event and inviting people to join. A couple more students showed up, for a total of four attendees. Despite this, all my classmates recited their poems with enthusiasm and joy – it was motivating to see such energy and it is something I will always remember whenever I encounter “discouraging” turnouts.