Life in Mexico
When people think of Mexico they either conjure up the image of ancient Mayan pyramids à la Chichén Itzá, or they think of sunning, surfing, siesta and salsa (the dip not the dance). Whichever image you’re chasing, Mexico will not disappoint.
Mexican food has long been popular in North America, so popular in fact that it’s been developed into a hybrid genre of food known as ‘Tex-Mex’. However, even if you’re already a regular consumer of burritos, fajitas, salsa and guacamole, get ready to rediscover Mexican cuisine in all its tangy, lemony authenticity once you arrive.
Although English is widely spoken, Mexico is a predominately Spanish-speaking nation, and proficiency in Spanish is important. Among its diverse population of 114 million are a number of modern indigenous communities, including the Nahua, Maya and Zapotec tribes. While indigenous people make up 10% of the population, over 80% of the population is ‘mestizo’, meaning of both European and Native American descent.
Despite the booming economy, life in Mexico remains a world apart from the rest of North America. Problems of noise, dirt, poverty and crime persist. Drug wars and violent crime make persistent headlines. But while this is a very real problem in some parts of the country, the threat to tourists and students is minimal. As long as you are aware of the issues and you are sensible about where, when and how you travel, for the most part, you will find Mexico a friendly and inviting nation to study in.
Student cities in Mexico
Mexico City, the nation’s capital, is a dizzying metropolis located in a mountainous basin 2,400m above sea level. One of the world’s most densely populated cities, holding over 20 million people, Mexico City is arguably also one of the most colorful, buzzing with life on every street.
Once you forget all you’ve heard about the high crime rates and air pollution, Mexico City will open up a world of excitement. The city center hosts a bustling commercial center of street vendors and market stalls, while the barrios (neighborhoods) of San Ángel and Coyoacán provide laidback, small-town charm. While the key attractions of the Museo Nacional de Antropología and the Basilica de Guadalupe remain favorites, also well worth exploring are the Alameda Gardens, the galleries of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and the pyramids of Tenayuca, Cuicuilco and Santa Cecelia Acatitlán.
Universities located in or just outside Mexico City include the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Instituto Politécnico Nacional (IPN), Universidad Iberoamericana (UIA), Instituto Tecnológico Autonomo de México (ITAM), Universidad Autónomadel Estado de México, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM) and Universidad Anáhuac.
Eastern Central Mexico’s biggest hub for students is the city of Puebla, which has been named a World Heritage Site due to its rich history and Baroque, Renaissance and classic architecture. Second only to Mexico City in terms of higher education establishments, Puebla is a great city for students due to its low costs, large student population and multitude of clubs and bars.
Universities and campuses in Puebla include the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, the Instituto Tecnológico del Estado, Universidad Tecnológica, Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla, Universidad del Valle de México (UVM) and the Universidad Anáhuac Puebla.
Other towns and cities in Mexico
Other locations in Mexico include Cancun, a popular holidaying location for students and sun seekers alike, Acapulco, known for its tourism and its crowded beaches and Guanajuato, one of the nation’s richest and most scenic colonial towns. You may also visit Tijuana, a border town in the northwestern corner of the Baja California peninsula, just south of San Diego, California. Although recently troubled by drug-related violent crime, Tijuana is once again becoming a popular destination for its beach and party-oriented students.
Find out where Mexico City ranks in the QS Best Student Cities >