Saying goodbye is never easy, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. The final week was so busy that I didn’t even have time to write a blog post, so this one will have things from the final two weeks. Just a warning: there will be a lot of food pics in this post because I was loving the kai, and they have a lot of American food retailers here, and that was very exciting for someone that has never been to America.
Leon was probably my least favourite campus of the entire trip, just because it was a lot smaller than the others, and there wasn’t a whole lot to it. However, I still thoroughly enjoyed my week. Despite Leon not having a whole lot of activities, we were lucky enough to be there when the Leon Festival Fair was on! It was absolutely massive, and driving past it when we arrived got everyone excited. I went on Tuesday with the hope of having a less crowded experience, and it was definitely a better idea. A small group of us went earlier in the day after classes to try to avoid long lines, but what we didn’t expect was not having to wait at all! We went on every ride, played a few carnival games and watched in awe as performers spun from ropes many meters high in the sky
Leon is also known as the leather capital of Mexico, so we used that opportunity to visit Leather companies and shoe outlets. I bought a pair of pink Jeep hiking boots for an absolute steal of a price, and the next day fell in love and invested in a pair of real leather cowboy boots with sunflowers on them (pictured below). My one regret was that I didn’t buy a proper pair of sneakers, but I found a cheeky cheap pair in Monterrey instead
On Saturday, we went to another beautiful little town called Guanajuato. Four of us spent about two hours (yes, Jess, two) in a ceramic shop where everything was far too affordable and all hand-crafted. All items were hand-painted, and nothing was exactly the same. Everything was beautiful. Already concerned about the weight of my bag, I tried not to purchase too much, but Jess and I couldn’t help but purchase dog coasters for our dog crazy professor who was missing his puppy, Alf. (Spoiler: he loved them). That night we stayed in for wine, cheese and card games before packing our bags for an early and long day the next day to head to Monterrey. And here is where things started going a little downhill for me.
I started my trip in good spirits; Jess and I missed out on our two separate seats, so we sat together. I wasn’t feeling 100%, but I was pushing through. After, we had a stop for lunch; however, I started going downhill fast. Suddenly, I was not feeling good at all, coming out with a fever, aches and pains, and feeling utterly miserable. And I am sure many people say this, but I am not a huge crier, but I was in such immense pain that I had two wee little cries. I can say it was probably the most miserable eight-hour bus trip ever. Once we arrived in Monterrey, we were given keys, and I was finally reunited in a room with Hayley, my og roommate from week one, whom I had to leave when she got covid. I was very sad to be leaving my Danish roomie of the past three weeks, though! I took a quick trip to the doctor, where he proceeded to tell me that I probably had Covid. I protested and said it was the flu or a throat infection, but he was adamant!
We went back to the hotel, where I had to leave Hayley again (we were really just not destined to room together) and isolated for the night. After a very PCR test that came back negative (told you so, doc), I stayed in bed for Monday and weakly made my way out of bed for Monday afternoon campus tours and activities. I was back in bed early that night! FOMO is way too real.
By Wednesday, I went back to the Doctor because I couldn’t hack it anymore. The original doctors claimed they couldn’t check me and that I needed to go to the hospital. Absolutely not. So we went to another Doctor to get a second opinion. $5 for a visit, and he was amazing. Absolute win. Turns out I was right 😉 throat infection. (Maybe I should drop business and become a doctor). Kidding; I don’t have the stamina for a degree like that. Get it, med students. Antibiotics and $75NZD later, I was set to go. Apart from a sniffle, now I am much better and super thankful to our coordinators for taking such great care of me.
Our Monterrey week was packed to the brim with activities, classes and company visits. We also had a big group project and pitch that was due by the end of the week, so it didn’t give us as much of an opportunity to explore as we would have liked. Thursday, we all went out for dinner for a big final hoorah as a group. Though tinged with a little sadness at the realisation of it all coming to an end, we were all in high spirits, eating good food with good company and good music that had us singing and dancing at the top of our lungs. And yes, people were staring; we were in the middle of a food court. People started filming us; I guess we were entertaining. We then found a band playing down the road and continued dancing around until late, when we realised we needed to get to bed for the big final presentations and goodbyes the next day.
We all smashed our presentations and, before our ‘graduation ceremony,’ already had to start our goodbyes. Not easy!!! We all packed as much as we could before our final event and moving out of the residences. Then we made the long walk to the Borregos stadium to collect our certificates, take lots of pictures, have a catered lunch, and say our thank you’s and goodbyes. That wasn’t all, though. We were surprised by a mariachi band! It was amazing, and we all danced around before finishing the mini-concert with the classic Macarena.
After we went back to the rooms to collect our bags, the majority were leaving to go travel or go back to their home countries, but the kiwis had a couple more days to go, and we were staying at a hotel down the road. There were some tears and lots of hugs! I am really hoping that I get to see some of them again. To try to cheer ourselves up, we went out to some shopping centres to see if we could find some last-minute gifts. A local recommended a Brazilian BBQ Buffet, which Angela, Jess and I decided to check out. We thought the price was fair and cheap in consideration of NZ prices, so we dived right in. We were there for about 2.5 hours before deciding we couldn’t possibly eat any more! We then got the bill and discovered we came on a discount day, and our meal was much cheaper than we thought! We were absolutely stoked.
The next day we went out to do some more exploring of Monterrey and made a last-ditch effort for gifts. Thankfully I succeeded! Jess and I accidentally made an error of going to a more dangerous area without realising it, and after a forewarning from the Uber, we decided not to stay too long! We met a lovely couple and trusted them enough to take us back into safe perimeters. Some of us went out for dinner near the hotel, which was an absolute fail. Definitely, the worst meal we had in the past four weeks! We then met up with some friends we had made at the University to go dancing for our last night in Mexico. We had an absolutely wonderful time.
I made a terrible decision in deciding to pack the day we left, thinking I had plenty of time. By some miracle, I got it all in my bags though I did have to leave a few things behind. After doing a little bit of repacking in the hotel lobby due to my bag being 2kg over the limit, we said our last goodbyes to Monterrey and hopped on the bus to the airport. Other than Jess and I boarding at the last call and almost missing our last flight, all travel went smoothly, and we landed back in NZ at 9 am on the 7th. It is a little surreal being back, I definitely miss the constant chaos and company, but it certainly is nice to drink NZ water, eat bread that isn’t sweet and not put toilet paper in a bin
I highly recommend this scholarship. If you have an opportunity to apply, do it. It is an incredible experience, and you make wonderful connections. Thank you to UoA and past Prime Minister Jacinda for the funds and organisation!
PS: Here are a couple more pictures that don’t fit that well in the blog post but I must share. Hehe. Also, thank you, Hayley, for teaching me how to do my pictures better