Learning more than just business

Our journey began bright and early at 5 am at Auckland airport, starting with a three-hour flight to Sydney, then a thirteen-hour flight to Los Angeles and finally, a three-hour flight to beautiful Mexico. With lost luggage and delays causing missed flights, we were certainly getting to know one another very well! After some long-haul flights and lots of time spent in airports, I was fizzing when we finally touched down in Mexico.

Driving to the hotel at midnight was the first real sense of culture shock for me. Sophie and I were forced to become very close as we held onto each other very tightly, thinking we were about to get in a car crash, only to be told, “oh no, this is how we all drive.” I have never been so fascinated by driving in my life. While in isolation (spoiler alert) I spent a large chunk of my days just sitting and staring out into the intersection outside of the hotel in awe of the lack of crashes for the craziness of driving. As quoted by a fellow traveller…

“I have never seen such crappy, yet talented driving in my life”

Georgie Keene, 2023

After a lovely trip to Latin America’s largest mall, I felt exhausted and struggled to breathe a bit – must be a combination of jet lag and altitude, but nothing of concern. I brushed it off but still decided to take a covid test for peace of mind. My roommate walks in, and I felt as though I went pale in the face and immediately she knew. Positive. I would spend the next five days rethinking my decision to come and feeling very alone throughout. I struggled with not knowing any Spanish to communicate getting meals and groceries. It is very interesting to learn how truly isolating covid can be, taking away from this that I was truly blessed to be surrounded by family throughout lockdowns and isolating in the past. I did not understand the privilege it is to have love and support surrounding you until you are 11,000 km from home.

After five days of staring at four walls, I was finally free! The taste of hot food at breakfast was heavenly. Was very exciting to meet lots of new people from all over the world with common interests. I was fortunate enough to come back out in time to visit PepsiCo. The company gave us a tour of their modern office; it was interactive and bright – words I didn’t think I would use to describe a typical office space. I felt excited for the future of business collaboration and the thought of a 9-5 desk job didn’t seem so scary. We were privileged to have access to lots of free snacks all created under Pepsi, although the only thing I enjoyed eating was the potato chips.

Our short trip to PepsiCo meant we had an almost full free day; we decided to take the van to Chapultepec park. I was shocked by the size of the park, it was really like a forest in the middle of busy Mexico City. We visited a castle, saw many market stalls, went around a lake on paddle boats, and saw squirrels for the first time. Was a very fun experience; however, I was not impressed when I was charged to use the bathroom :/

Had my first day at uni on Friday; Tec has the most beautiful campus! I was in awe of the gorgeous colours that just screamed Mexico. Extremely disapointed at the lack of vibrant colours in New Zealand after seeing the sites here. After classes, we finished the day with a trip to the mall, and we all went out as a group that evening.

Saturday was my favourite day in Mexico to date! We experienced the most unique market I have ever seen, where everyone is on vibrant-coloured boats paddling down a river with different stalls paddling past. We brought some corn on a stick and saw so many creative stalls. I think this day was my favourite as I finally experienced some Mexican culture, trying my first “Mexican” food as well as seeing mariachi bands playing on the water. Can confirm I cannot do spicy foods! I felt very grateful laying in the sun on the front of the boat reflecting on the amazing opportunity I have been blessed with. My favourite part of the day was riding horses! We paid less than $10NZD to ride gorgeous horses for 30 minutes. I haven’t laughed that hard for a while; however, I wasn’t laughing so much when I almost fell off after Sophie’s horse bit mine, though!! 

Overall, I have had some amazing experiences so far after finally overcoming an uncomfortable period of time being isolated and alone in a strange place; big reflections I have had are that a bad time doesn’t last forever and to keep persevering. There were 100% times when I felt coming home would be easier and less scary, but if I had done that, I wouldn’t have got to meet amazing people, see such unique things or ride a horse! I am so lucky to not just be expanding my business knowledge but learning more about myself and growing along the way <3

Oh yeah, and did I mention Jack’s coffee order got messed up… TWICE!?

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