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Study in New Mexico

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Looking for a US destination with a difference? Look to New Mexico.

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New Mexico is a vast state sandwiched between Texas and Arizona, and bordering the country from which it takes its name.

This largely arid desert state is famous for its vivid red shades and striking large rock formations.

But it’s not all uniform. The snow-capped Rocky Mountains come to an end in the state, and it contains six national forests, and the massive Rio Grande river.

It also has its urban centres. If you choose to study in the state, it is likely that you will be stationed in the biggest and best known of these, Albuquerque. Though it is no Chicago or Philadelphia in terms of population or size, it is in fact one of the United States’ fastest growing cities, with an economy based largely on technology.

But to focus on that misses out on the city’s unique appeal. Albuquerque is sun drenched city, with plenty of architectural charm, which captures the spirit of the region. And that spirit is truly multicultural: New Mexico’s population is 44% Hispanic, higher than any other state. It also has a one of the largest proportions of Native Americans in the US.

This rich mix is reflected in the cuisine, the culture, and the general way of life in Albuquerque and the rest of the state, particularly in idiosyncratic capital city Santa Fe (certainly worth a visit).

If you’re looking for something a bit different, then, look to New Mexico.

New Mexico: Fast facts

•    New Mexico is the sixth biggest state in the US, but only has a population of 2.1 million, meaning that its population density is the sixth lowest

•    At night, various buildings in Albuquerque light up in different colours, such as green, red, yellow and blue, creating a unique light show in the city

•    Famous New Mexicans include actor Neil Patrick Harris, William Hanna (Hanna in Hanna-Barbera), musician John Denver, outlaw Billy the Kid and Apache chief Geronimo

•    New Mexico has only been part of the United States for just over 100 years, having joined the union in early 1912 (only Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii joined after)

•    1947, a UFO was thought by conspiracy theorists to have crashed near Roswell, New Mexico – still the subject of debate by UFO enthusiasts

•    The town of Deming, New Mexico holds an annual duck race

•    There are more sheep and cattle in New Mexico than people

•    In the last weekend of September, the town to Las Cruces holds the ‘While Enchilada Festival’, attended by 50,000 people, at which a giant enchilada is prepared and then distributed among attendees (the 3.2m diameter enchilada made in 2000 was the world’s biggest until the record was broken in 2010 – though there is some controversy over different types of enchilada)

Top universities in New Mexico

The state’s flagship university, the University of New Mexico, is the state’s only ranked university, coming in at 406 in the 2011 QS World University Rankings. 

The university has a total enrolment of over 36,000 students, with 27,000 of these based at the main campus at Albuquerque.

The university offers 87 bachelor’s degrees, 72 master’s degrees and 38 doctorates. It is a prolific research establishment, classed as a Carnegie Research University with Very High Activity. Among its research centres are institutes focussing on astrophysics, medieval studies and social research. It counts a Nobel laureate among its faculty members (Murray Gell-Mann).

UNM prides itself on being a Hispanic-serving institution.

The state’s other major public university is New Mexico State University. Based in Las Cruces, the university is a Land and Space Grant university, and attracts US$150 million in research funding annually.

It serves 18,500 students, and has a strong sporting rivalry with UNM.

More states in the south of the US:

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Written by QS Staff Writer

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