On Wednesday, the 4th of January, we departed from Auckland airport to start our long-haul flight to Los Angeles airport. From there, we would fly to Mexico City to live and study at Universidad Iberoamericana (IBERO) for 6 weeks.
I was hesitant to fly internationally because this was my first time travelling abroad. The thought of something going wrong and leaving me stranded at the airport alone made me tremendously anxious. On the surface, I seemed composed and had alleviated some of my nervousness about flying internationally with a group of individuals I had only met recently. Everything was going to be a breeze. What could possibly go wrong?
We boarded the long-haul flight to Mexico and I found it was
not problematic and travelling through the Los Angeles airport was [not] a breeze. Oh, how the tables turned. I ended up getting stuck at the one place I was the most nervous about travelling through, the infamous Los Angeles airport. Because our flight from New Zealand to the Los Angeles airport had been delayed, we arrived at the airport with a sense of urgency and minimal time to spare for our next flight to Mexico. Everyone was scrambling around like headless chickens in preparation to board the next flight. The good thing was that all the flights at check-in were fine. Well … except mine. Oddly enough, the system showed that I was travelling as an unaccompanied minor, meaning I couldn’t check in alone or modify my details. Still, it was already too late when I reached the counter. Thankfully, after a couple of hours, there was another flight to Mexico available. Now, with adrenaline still running though my veins and a deadline I couldn’t miss, it was time to find the departure gate. At this point, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Looking back at this, I laugh at the 30 minutes of getting lost at LAX airport, frantically trying to find where my flight was. To me, it seemed like an episode of The Amazing Race, but I was coming in at last place. Imagine my surprise when the flight details decided to backfire once again, and I almost wasn’t allowed to board the rescheduled flight. Alas, things sorted themselves out and luckily, I was allowed aboard the plane. The nearly three-hour flight touched down safely in the early hours of the morning in Mexico. Finally, I thought, the chaos is done and dusted. Flying to Mexico City was an unprecedented wild rollercoaster of emotions, and at this point, the journey had only just begun.
Upon waking the next day, our group went to the local market, Mercado Mendellín, to get fresh fruit and vegetables for our meals. I was surprised by how much fresh produce there was and how people and things seemed to explode with vibrancy and life.
On Friday, we visited Universidad Iberoamericana for the first time for an orientation. Walking into the campus was a surreal experience. I was shocked at how big the campus was and how many facilities there were, from the arts to sports. I hope while I’m here I’ll try one of the art classes!
The highlight of my first week here was on Saturday, when all the new international students took part in the IBERO rally in the city centre. The rally was a fun scavenger hunt that got us to explore and learn more about the city and culture. In Mexico, I’ve found that people are very kind and hospitable. Straight after the Ibero rally, a new friend and I revisited the artesian markets we visited during the scavenger hunt. Here, we tried original organic coffee and chocolate sourced from different regions of the country. Each drink was named after the region the beans were sourced from. I got the Guanajuato con chocolate y café and my new amiga (friend) got the café con canela y pilicillo. The coffees were served in clay, hand-painted ceramic mugs with a little wooden spoon to stir the coffee and chocolate in mine. As someone who barely eats chocolate that doesn’t contain copious amounts of sugar, I found the rich earthy bitterness of the chocolate and coffee to be quite interesting. It didn’t taste anything like Whittaker’s chocolate, but I still enjoyed the experience!
Overall, the first week here started off eventful but has dwindled in intensity and now remains a steady simmer of excitement and nervousness. Bring on next week when the group will be starting classes on Monday at IBERO!