By HAYLEY HOFFMAN – STAFF WRITER
Centre is currently one of the top institutions in the nation for studying abroad, and it is easy to see why.
Most students study abroad at least once during their time here through one of Centre’s numerous programs in cities including London, Glasgow, and Strasbourg.
In this issue, The Cento talked to sophomore Jeri Howell, a Spanish and Environmental Studies double major, who is currently studying abroad with the Centre-in-the-Yucatan program. She answered questions about her homestay experience, performing in an Irish pub, and adapting to the culture of Merida.
Q: What was your initial impression of Merida?
A: At the beginning of the Merida trip, students stay right in the heart of downtown. I was completely overwhelmed and completely excited all at once – so many people!
So much live music! So many street vendors! So many colors! And this was just the first night. I knew that I would be having a “cultural blast” during my time in Merida.
Q: What is a typical day like for you?
A: On a typical weekday, I’ll eat breakfast with my host mom, walk to class, walk home for a big lunch, talk to my host family for a bit, walk back to class, then run errands/hang out with friends around our neighborhood. Then, like a normal Centre student, we all do as much homework as possible before and after dinner until we go to bed.
Q: What is the homestay experience like?
A: My homestay experience is amazing. I would not study abroad any other way. Every day after class or after being away, I look forward to coming “home.”
My favorite activity in Merida is to talk to my host mom.
It is so incredible being in someone else’s home because you get to meet all of their family and friends that visit, go on outings with them, do chores with them, laugh, cry and LIVE with them.
My experience in Merida would not be as amazing if it were not for my host family.
Q: How have your classes connected you to the culture?
A: Every class is connected to Mexican culture. More specifically, it is connected to the Yucatan Peninsula – the region of Mexico that we are living in.
My classes help me to have a stronger grasp on the history, politics and culture of Mexico that create what it means to be “Yucatecan,” “Maya,” “Mexican,” or “Latin American.”
Q: Was it challenging to adjust to the culture?
A: For me, it was very easy to adjust to the culture. I love the food, the hospitality, and speaking Spanish.
Q: You and several other Centre students played in a pub a few weeks ago. What was that experience like?
A: We have created a band here, “Paper Strings,” that got booked as a regular show every Saturday night at Hennessey’s Irish Pub. It’s a blast.
It is very exciting to make friends and connections with local people. It’s also really fun to do our stage banter in Spanish.
Q: Why did you choose this program?
A: I chose this program because the classes offered fit with my majors. I have always wanted to live in Latin America, and I was drawn to the vibrant culture and the homestays.
Furthermore, the professor this year, Dr. Genny Ballard, is one of my favorite people, so it all worked out perfectly.
Q: What would you say to someone who is thinking about studying abroad in Merida?
A: Do it. There are so many incredible things to do here, the weather is amazing, the culture and landscape are invigorating, and public transportation is easy and can get you all over the country.
The homestays will change your life, and the cost of living – including your flight here and back – is low in comparison to other study abroad programs. I’m 100% happy with my decision.