To help us settle in to the country, and get to know the others working as assistants in our cities and around Mexico, we spent a week in the capital going to the British Council offices each day to have presentations and meet the people organising the programme. Most of it, however, was just useful to see the city and get used to the HUGE culture shock that is apparently involved with moving 6,000 miles away from home.
I was lucky enough to have my dad travel out with me a week before the induction started to help me get settled and we spent a few days exploring the city. It was so useful to have someone with me for the first time I’d ever moved out of my own country, as it was obviously daunting, but it was also so much fun to travel with my dad, something I’d never done before.
CDMX is massive; when you fly over coming into the airport, the lights stretch out as far as you can see, and it doesn’t seem any smaller once you touch down on the ground. The weather isn’t too hot, it’s humid more than anything, but not uncomfortable, which certainly helped with settling in!
The first few days we just wondered round the city, me dragging my dad to various museums and monuments, which, speaking no Spanish, he could never understand. One thing I did realise in these few days was that my Spanish was very rusty and would certainly need work before I was able to communicate adequately with anyone in this country. I put this down to the difference between European and Mexican Spanish, the accent, the speed at which they talk, and the strange words they often use here.
After an emotional goodbye to my dad and a move (complete with unnecessary amounts of luggage) to the hostel with the rest of the English assistants, I started the induction process. There was a lot of paperwork, and presentations on the dangers we might face. These included kidnappings, shootings, earthquakes, hurricanes, muggings and sexual assault to name a few, and probably wasn’t the most reassuring start to the year but we took it well, joking about the fact we had been advised to ‘stay fit so we could run away from our potential kidnappers’.
Something I was surprised about as I got to know the others on the programme was that I was one of only two people on our years abroad. I had assumed the majority of people would be university students here as part of their course to learn Spanish, as is often the case with British Council placements, so I was shocked and slightly daunted to find that there was only one other girl, from Leeds University, in the same position as me. We were the youngest by far, but it also gave me a confidence boost in that I’d been chosen from multiple potential candidates to be here. I got to meet the others who were in the same city as me, and we made plans to see each other when we could, knowing we’d certainly be some of the only Brits in the area.
On the last day of the induction week, we met our ‘tutors’ – those who were to look after us, and they flew with each of us back to our individual placement cities and we were off to start our new lives.