Makaela Peters, a student in the UFV Global Development program, provides first-hand tips for students bound to study in Guanajuato.
Top ten tips for a Guanajuato exchange student
Here are the top 10 ways to get the MOST out of your experience studying Spanish at the University of Guanajuato:
Think walking distance
During the application process, be specific and ask for a host family within walking distance of the university. You’ll be grateful for a short commute to and from home, especially if you hope to spend time exploring the city with the new friends you’ll make.
Don’t take yourself too seriously! Be friendly with the locals and get to know people whose first language is Spanish – this is invaluable. An added bonus: the people of Guanajuato are friendly, fun, and eager to show visitors around!
Learn some slang
Try to pick up local expressions and slang words – make note of them and try them out! This is part of the cultural richness gained through immersion. You’re sure to pick up some fun, local phrases if you follow tip #2.
Ask a local for the best spots to visit
Along a similar thread, when in doubt, ask a local! Tips, advice, and directions from people who live in the área will lead you to the best restaurants, stores, cafes, entertainment, and shortcuts.
Sample the local cuisine
Speaking of food, when eating out, a good rule of thumb is to ask for regional dishes. Take advantage of the location and eat food unique to the area. If they created it, they do it best. Enchiladas mineras are a delicious Guanajuatense dish to try.
Work up an appetite
Be prepared to do a little cardio. The city is filled with winding streets that scale steep hills and delve into a network of underground tunnels. You will be walking these cobblestone streets as your main means of transportation, so mentally and physically prepare for a somewhat active lifestyle during your time here. (This really is a plus when you consider the amount of delicious food available here…)
Pay attention as you walk from place to place. Those deep tunnels and winding streets create some interesting (and unpredictable) traffic patterns; always err on the side of caution and pay attention to drivers.
Enjoy street life
Spend time downtown. Guanajuato’s plazas and gardens come alive in the evenings with street performers and live music. These are a great introduction to the animated culture of the region, and performers from other parts of Mexico also congregate in the city centre, offering visitors a glimpse of Mexico’s cultural diversity.
Take in the art and history
Take advantage of the affordable museums and galleries located throughout Guanajuato. For example, El Museo del Pueblo de Guanajuato only charges 5 pesos ($0.40) and has beautiful art spanning hundreds of years of Guanajuato’s history up until the present day.
Celebrate with your hosts
Finally, find out about holidays and local festivals. While all of Mexico has a knack for celebration, Guanajuato in particular is renowned for its art, culture, and cuisine festivals. These are often free and always worth a visit!