Jennifer Tuuk, '09, spent the spring semester studying in Puebla, Mexico. A Spanish major with a minor in anthropology and a concentration in environmental studies, Tuuk is the daughter of Roger and Rebecca Tuuk of Fremont and a graduate of Fremont High School.
I left on my journey to Mexico on January 3, 2008 through the Program for Mexican Culture and Society in Puebla (PMCSP). Currently I am studying at the BUAP, or Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, one of many universities in Puebla. Throughout the semester I have been taking four classes including the history of Mexico, Anthropology and Linguistics, Folkloric dance, and Ethnicity, State, and Nation. Outside of classes, I spent a week with my program in Mexico City for orientation, and we have also taken weekend excursions to Veracruz and Guanajuato, Mexico.
I am really enjoying living in Mexico and being able to learn more about the culture. It is especially great being able to live with a Mexican family. The hardest part living with my family here is that Mexicans tend to eat a lot, and it is considered rude if you turn down a meal, even if you are not hungry. One of my favorite things about Mexico is that the people are much more laid back than they are in the US. Time does not matter, and it makes the daily schedules much more relaxing. Also, the public transportation is very reliable, and it is possible to get a bus to almost anywhere in the country at any time.
As far as the language, my Spanish skills have improved greatly since the time that I arrived here. I remember the first week in Mexico City. I did not understand hardly anything, and I did not have the confidence yet to speak the language. However, after spending an entire semester in Mexico and having to use the language daily, my confidence has boosted and I am able to use the language with almost no problems. The hardest part for me is understanding other people, especially in a classroom setting, but even that has improved greatly. As for reading and writing, I would like to thank my Spanish professor, Rebecca Whitehead-Schwartz, who taught me so much last semester at Albion and prepared me well for my study abroad experience.
My time abroad has taught me so many things, and it has made me a better person. Not only have I learned Spanish, but I feel that I have also become more independent and have gained confidence in more than one way. Also, I have learned to adapt to change by living with another family in a foreign country. I am satisfied with this choice in programs and am extremely happy that I chose to come here. My overall study abroad experience in Puebla, Mexico has been a once in a lifetime experience.