Everyone’s familiar with the classic waking up to the crow of a rooster trope, but how many of you wake up to the sound of a mooing cow? I do! No, it’s not a real cow, but rather the song for the gas trucks here in Oaxaca that wake me up every morning with their iconic, sorry *distinctive*, song. I have to say it starts my day off right, every time. (listen here: https://soundcloud.com/mattkrupnick/gas-de-oaxaca-mexico).
Entering my third week here in Oaxaca, I can safely say that this jingle is one of the few things I can guarantee happens every day. SIT focuses on experiential learning and language immersion that crams 12 credits worth of material into ten weeks. This gives students the opportunity to participate in a month-long independent research or internship experience to wrap up their semester. The fast-paced, intensive, and intentional nature of the program leads no two days or weeks to look the same. While I certainly can’t give you a detailed look at what an average day entails, I figured I would provide a glimpse into my life on Mitla (aka the street I live on).
Unlike other study abroad programs, I am not directly enrolled at a local university. Rather, I take comprehensive courses at my program center that doubles as a community center, language immersion school, and more. Most days around 9 AM, I arrive with my seven other classmates to start my day with a variety of activities that include classes, seminars, NGO visits, and more. I grab my complimentary coffee and pan dulce, watch the ladies doing their daily tai chi, and mentally prepare myself.
Everything centers around themes of Mexican culture, inclusive language, borders and migration, and political economy. When not physically in a classroom, our classes can take place in a myriad of places around Oaxaca. Anywhere from markets to art studios or other culturally significant sites (hello Zapotec pyramids). Due to the intimate and interactive nature of my classes, four hours of straight learning often goes by faster than one would think. One thing I am growing to enjoy is the communal, collaborative, and creative nature of my learning environment. This means classes designed for group work toward a common learning objective and that incorporate artistic twists, such as poetry or finger painting. While it certainly is an adjustment, it is teaching me to love learning again.
Time with Dee
Quite honestly, I feel like I am living with my grandma with the insane amount of food Dee tries to feed me. There is certainly never a day I go hungry. It is common here to have a large breakfast (somewhere between 9 and 10 AM). This includes anything from massive fruit bowls (my personal favorite), huevos & quesadillas, or chilaquiles, accompanied by a side of the daily news on TV. Following breakfast, Dee heads to the market and I walk to school.
Around 2 PM, I return to “Minutos Para Ganar” on the TV and just in time to eat too much food. Think chicken mole (a must-try), tortas, and enchiladas verdes. Promptly at 2:30 pm, the channel switches to “Sortelegio de Amor” and telenovela time begins. My afternoons quickly fill with homework, predictions for tomorrow’s episodes, and plenty of platicando (talking) before class round 2.
After my evening class, nothing brings me as much joy as our evening cafecito (coffee) ritual. Most evenings we enjoy cappuccinos from our favorite shop, Caramello, accompanied by pan dulce (pastries) or galletas (cookies) with strawberry marmalade. Afterward, I bid Dee an “hasta mañana” and head off to my room to finish my homework. It’s simple, but it all feels like home, even the mooing gas trucks 🙂