I have officially been abroad for four weeks through SIT’s Migration, Borders, and Transnational Communities program! While the first week of our program started in Tucson, Arizona, I have officially been in Oaxaca, Mexico for three weeks now, and I’m excited to begin sharing insights into my life abroad through the Off-Campus Study Blog!

Arrival to Tucson

As my program launch date continued to approach, there were many mixed feelings involved–excitement, fear, anticipation, anxiety, and most of all, hope. When I arrived at the airport, I hugged my parents goodbye, turned towards the security gate, and then I was off! While there were some minor hiccups, such as delays and re-books, overall, my flight went smoothly. I even got upgraded to first class on my flight to Tucson! Before I knew it, I arrived at my destination, paid for an Uber to the hotel SIT staff organized for me, dropped off my suitcases, and walked to an Airbnb about 5 minutes away. I was greeted kindly by my program directors, classmates, and delicious pizza (which I was very excited for after a long day of travel).

Class Structure

For my program, our first week was spent in Tucson, Arizona, and it served as both orientation and classes. SIT focuses on experiential learning, which means that while we have classes, our learning also consists of many lectures and excursions. In Tucson, we spent the week learning from professors, journalists, and organizations about humanitarian issues along the border, and we also visited the wall separating the United States and Mexico.

In Oaxaca, we have a more formal schedule that consists of four classes that alternate daily, and our weekends mainly consist of excursions to various parts of Mexico. My housemate and I walk to class every day, which is about a 10-minute walk from our house. Much of our classwork consists of readings and reflections, and within the class, there are lots of discussions. On the weekends, we will usually have excursions to various parts of Mexico. While our directors are there to teach us, they have also been eager to learn from us and hear our opinions, thoughts, and feelings about what we see and experience!

Adjusting and Adapting

Upon arriving in Oaxaca, I was immediately enamored by all the color and the vibrant feel of the city. There is color everywhere, from the color of the buildings to the handicrafts that vendors sell on the streets. Additionally, Oaxaca is very culturally rich–full of life, delicious food, and amazing people! Upon my first glance, I felt that studying abroad in Oaxaca was a match made in heaven!

However, once I settled in with my host family, I began to feel the effects of both culture shock and homesickness. I vividly remember my first meal with my host mom. During our meal, I struggled to speak even one full sentence in Spanish. After we finished, I went back to my room and cried, questioning my decision to pursue a program that would be conducted entirely in Spanish. I felt very overwhelmed and in over my head.

I will admit that even after four weeks, I am still adjusting. However, living with a host family has definitely been a huge help in my adjustment. Over time, I have found it easier to have conversations in Spanish (although still very short). Additionally, she has been a great resource for all the questions I might have about life in the city. My host mom is very kind, funny, and attentive, not to mention an amazing cook. I have yet to have a meal that is not delicious!

While I still miss the stability and comfort of life back home, I am excited to continue learning and growing amidst moments of challenge. Thank you for being here, and I hope you’ll continue to tag along!

Published by Marielle Michmerhuizen

Class of 2025 SIT Study Abroad - Migration, Borders, and Transnational Communities in Oaxaca, Mexico

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