Querétaro – Week 2 iWinter in Mexico!

I can’t believe how fast this week has gone by! This week we have been living at the halls of residence here on Campus Querétaro which they only finished building last November! Which makes us the first proper tenants in this place and it has been awesome! I’ve never had to live in halls of residence since I live at home, but this place is so nice, the rooms aren’t too small, there’s a private bathroom in each room (of course we share the room with someone else, but it’s better than a communal bathroom).

What am I currently doing at the moment? Well it’s still dark, it’s 6.45am on a Sunday morning and I am staring out of the big window in the kitchen eating my brekkie, at all the little twinkling lights that light up the dark across Querétaro. It seems that my early morning habits have travelled with me and I haven’t quite been able to shake them. Alright, what did I do this week you’re wondering? Well let’s start shall we?

Hello at 6.30am!

Monday: We go a tour of the new campus which would be our home base for the next week. This campus is so nice, it has a little convenience store, a variety of places to seek out lunch on campus if needed as well as a Starbucks which became my go-to place for hot chocolates because I found out that Tim Horton’s doesn’t put milk in their ones – odd I know. And it’s far too much chocolate for me. We had our two 2-hour classes as per usual throughout the week, and on this particular day, a group of us decided to seek out Walmart for from groceries. I was super excited about taking my first steps into a Walmart – in all honesty, it’s like a MASSIVE Kmart or Warehouse with a supermarket inside. Not too impressed at the limited range of foods, and the price of things like a loaf of bread are outrageous! However, we got our food and actually, apart from Friday night, I cooked dinner for myself every night. I think going out to eat all the time last week made me miss my own cooking!

Tuesday: I managed to make it to the gym this morning! It felt so good to be able to exercise and let all my extra steam off before the day started. We had guest speaker David Muldrew come in and talk to us about business and personal life in Mexico – the challenges and the opportunities. It was super interesting, and heard a few perspectives on why foreigners came to live in Mexico – 1) their job and 2) the weather. Though I would have to say I think I prefer Auckland weather – the Mexican warmth is nice but some variety in the weather would make life a bit more spicier 😂. In the afternoon we went to downtown Querétaro, how would I describe it? Stuck in time. Downtown Querétaro still has the cobblestone roads, and small, old colonial buildings and churches, it’s super cool! We stopped in at an art museum – the building used to be a convent so I was more admiring the architecture than the actual art on the walls in all honesty but I still enjoyed it. I stopped to get some ice cream – of course coffee flavour because what else?(apart from vanilla and chocolate ☺️). Then we walked past some market stalls, and ended up walking to another museum which I think had something to do with the history of Mexico’s independence from Spain. Oh, a little fun fact about these museums: there are security guards everywhere, and they are the ones who tells you where to go and in what order your should look at everything in. It felt a little odd not being able to peruse the way I wanted to but I was not about to argue. Anyway, one of the security guards stopped and started talking to us, it must’ve been a 10 or 15 minute conversation – all in Spanish, about the museum, us, music, Querétaro! All sorts of topics and I was super proud of myself because I haven’t held a conversation like that in Spanish for so long in quite a while!

We stopped by Walmart on the way home because the halls didn’t provide us with plates, bowls, knives, forks or spoons! So I bought a spoon, a fork and a bowl for cheap so that I had something decent to eat my food out of!😂 Oh the challenges we face.

Wednesday: Made it to the gym again! Although for me, it’s not hard to maintain a routine once I’ve set it. We had classes as per usual then we go treated a salsa lesson (the dance not the sauce). It was fun, but I can confirm that I cannot dance to save myself 😂 but that’s okay, I am after all, a Group Fight and Group Active instructor at Cityfitness – not a Group Groove instructor 😂. Tonight, we organised an international food night, where we all had to make something from our countries to share with the rest of the group. So off we went to Walmart (again) to look for either a) sausages and bread or b) fish and chips. But turns out, sausages (or at least proper ones, not hot dogs) are really hard to find and super expensive, and turns out, so is the fish! But there was more frozen fish than sausages so fish and chips it was! Another one of the groups for team NZ bought some reduced cream and powdered onion stock, bread, butter and sprinkles = Kiwi dip and fairy bread. More challenges though: the butter here in Mexico is very white, and tastes… well… not like butter and so that ruined the fairy bread, and whoever made the dip used too much stock so it was super salty (a bit of an ass-salt on your mouth I might add… no? ok moving on). Everyone else’s dishes are super yummy! We had a potato rosti from Switzerland, Knudel from Germany, fried rice from Korea, cinnamon rolls from Denmark and chicken nuggets from Australia (chicken nuggets? well turns out what we eat and what Aussies eat are much the same and they too were struggling to find anything at the supermarket so chicken nuggets were the best option). It was such a fun night and I’m so glad we put it on!

Also I’m super excited because I got a nomination to apply to the University of Oviedo in Spain for my semester 2 exchange! Finally everything, all my travel and study plans, feel like they’re falling into place!

Thursday: (right change of position, time to do my laundry for the week before anyone else gets to it!) Right so Thursday was a pretty full-on day. We had two company visits: La Corona and Rancho Santa Marina.

La Corona: Is a soap, detergent and oil factory, not the beer factory 😂. But it was such a cool visit! We got a presentation from the company about their mission, values, their market, their exports and imports, their history and who they are as a company. Mexican culture places a lot of importance on family values, and this is totally reflected in La Corona, as they often have whole families working in the company, for different sectors, and their unique marketing strategy of mouth-to-mouth means it has been Mexican mothers who have helped to spread La Corona’s products to become the top soap-detergent-oil company in Mexico since 1920! And they even export to the US for the Mexican market living there! We got a tour of their factory in Querétaro which in particular manufactures, packs and ships oil and shortening. At the end received a bag of La Corona products! It was super generous but I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to take most of it back home with me.

Fábrica de Jabón La Corona

Rancho Santa Marina: What another interesting company! The Ranch is was it sounds like – a farm and vineyard. They run a circular economy meaning that all of their ingredients for their restaurant are sourced all from the farm which is super cool! And they grow and produce natural wines which means that their wine can only be consumed on-site and under specific conditions because of how unstable it is (there are no stabilisers added which means it’s 100% grapes). We got to do some cheese-tasting, which was a first for me! It was yummy, though I wouldn’t call myself being a huge fan of cheese with my favourite cheese being mozzarella – the softest cheese you could get! But all their cheese is produced from the cows, sheep and goats they have in their farm, is made and aged on-site so it felt very clean. Even the room which they keep their cheese stored in is natural, with the materials that the room is made of acting as a natural insulator from heat and cold and keeps a good humidity for the cheese to live in! All the animals on the Ranch live long lives, and babies are kept with their mothers for as long as possible.

Friday: Last day of classes, we had guest speaker Dr Anil Yasil come to talk to us about culture, identity and culture in Mexico! It was interesting and super engaging and helped me to understand more the values of Mexican people and so understand the way they live here. A group of us went to Antea shopping mall just to have a look around, although it very much was an upper-class mall – the prices were so expensive! I did manage to find a new pair of slippers and an eye-mask to replace the one I left at home 😬. All of us then went to Hércules for dinner, and it was just what I needed, a massive pizza covered in cheese 😍. Dinner was super yummy, and I managed to find three other people to come home with me at 9pm. Everyone else wanted to go out clubbing which is fine, but is totally not my scene at all. I got a good nights sleep, unlike a lot of people I think with the drama that unfolded that night (to my discovery on Saturday morning).

Saturday: On the agenda for Saturday – a day trip to the town of San Miguel de Allende. We organised some vans to take us there and bring us back to halls. I caught the 9am van, and after an hour arrived just after 10am in San Miguel. Speaking of towns stuck in time, it’s a popular town for Americans to retire to, and very touristy (as was reflected in the prices) but I still very much enjoyed the day walking around, exploring, and eating with a couple of others. We even stumbled upon the towns’ Independence Day Parade which was quite a sight to behold! Of course got some more ice cream because why not? It was a long day and the vans came to collect us at 6pm. I had no trouble falling asleep last night let’s put it that way 😂.

Sunday: It was very relaxed morning, I did some laundry, but the halls of residence put on a pool party and cooked up some burgers for us before we left which was super awesome and very delicious! We then drove the 2.5 hours drive our new city of residence for the week: León, the shoe capital of the country!

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