Saturday, July 31, 2010

Observations: Part 2

1. More chains to add to the list: KFC, Dominos Pizza, The Body Shop, Radio Shack, Baskin Robbins, Pizza Hut, Blockbuster, Hooters  and The Melting Pot Coming Soon! (We've also confirmed there is a Six Flags -- we saw the road sign!)

2. I'd say 98% of the guys gel their hair. Serious gel. The faux hawk, mullet and rat tail are all pretty common.

3. There are lots of venders throughout the city, whether on the metro, on the streets or walking up to your outdoor table at a restaurant. The venders range from young kids (today we saw a boy that looked about 2 selling along with his brother, who was maybe 13; the 7-9ish age is pretty common as well) to senior citizens. I've seen all kinds of things being sold: gum, cigarettes, pirated cds, joke books, plants, pots and pans, cell phone chargers, baskets, various snacks, umbrellas, slap bracelets (remember those?), balloons and guitars. On the metro especially the vendors take various approaches. Most announce what they are selling (very loudly) while moving throughout the car. Others hand out their wares without saying anything, and then come back to either collect the money or their goods.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The day in photos

Thursday in photos: 

More murals at UNAM! They're everywhere! This is another one by Siquieros. We stopped back to ask a few questions, figure out how the University buses work, and meet with a student to view another potential apartment. 

Here's a view of the Jardin Central (the quad/commons) at UNAM. The main library is on the left, the Falcultad de Filosofia y Letras (Department of Philosophy and Letters) which cohosts my major is behind that, and the building to the far left is where my thesis mentor's office is located.

Wandering around Coyoacan on our way to the Centro we found a Rotary Monument! (I'm in Mexico as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar -- more info in a future blog). 

"Dar de si antes de pensar en si" -- Service above Self, Rotary's motto. 

Very typical -- a picture/tribute to the Virgin Mary. 

Plaza Santa Catarina in Coyoacan. 

Went to Los Danzantes for dinner -- a Contemporary Mexican restaurant serving new versions of traditional dishes. 

As an appetizer we had taquitos with duck, cilantro, onion, avocado and a sauce. Yum! Followed with a salad and shrimp rolls and guava cheesecake. 

Restaurants along the park Jardin del Centenario in Coyoacan.

Parroquia de San Juan Bautista in Coyoacan. 

We stopped at Cafe el Jarocho -- a famous (and delicious!) cafe for some coffee

Giving directions

I don't know how I forgot about this! Yesterday I (Becca, the directionally-challenged person in a new country) gave someone directions! A woman on the UNAM campus asked me where the Biblioteca Central (Main Library -- aka the one covered in murals) was and I was able to tell her. Not sure why she asked me, but I was pretty proud of myself =)

Biblioteca Central at UNAM

(She must really have been new because it's pretty hard to miss!)


A few random observations from the first days here....

1. The emergency vehicles drive with their flashing lights on. I haven't figured out yet how people know if they are getting pulled over.

2. Throughout the day you can see people wearing anything from tank tops to turtlenecks. Throughout the year, the temperature in Mexico City ranges from about 50-80 degrees F. The weather changes quite a bit throughout the day. It's somewhat chilly in the mornings and evenings, but gets warm in the afternoon, especially in the sun. Rain at any point in the day can obviously affect the temp. Walking down the street in the middle of the day, I've seen people in heavy sweaters walking next to people in tank tops.

3. There are lots of chains here. So far I've seen: Starbucks, Walmart, Office Depot, McDonalds, Burger King, 7 Eleven, Papa Johns Pizza. According to the taxi driver tonight there's also a Six Flags!

4. Close-toed shoes. Almost everyone wears close-toed shoes -- lots of boots and sneakers (including Converse). While there are a few sandals and open-toed shoes, I have a feeling mine won't be getting much use for a while!

5. When it rains, it pours! I know I mentioned it earlier, but it's worth mentioning again. It's rainy season now, so lots of rain -- not as bad as I expected though. So far it's been pretty sunny during the day, with rain in the later afternoon or evening. Today we got caught in it and were a little damp for dinner.

It's only been 2 days?

I've been here two full days and it feels like a week!

Today I:
  • Got my Identification Number (CURP -- Clave Única de Registro de Población) 
  • Found out I'm too late to register for Portuguese classes this semester =(  I need to prove proficiency in 3 languages (for me -- English, Spanish, Portuguese) by the end of my first year, though it's not clear level of competency I need.
  • Visited 2 housing option, including one I really like that's available now! (Since it's summer vacation, many housing options aren't available until mid or late August)
  • Learned how to ride the metro, including switching lines multiple times. The walking distance underground to transfer lines seemed really long, compared to my experiences with the DC, NYC and Buenos Aires metro/subway/subte systems. 
  • Ate some delicious mango, purchased fresh from a roadside stand. The man has a cart with mangos, cantaloupe, watermelon and papaya. You tell him what you want and he cuts it up -- with some very impressive knife skills! You have the option of adding some kind of hot spice, lime and salt on top, but we opted for the plain mango. Delicious! 
  • Dropped off a document to be notarized. Unlike the US system, where notaries are fairly common and easy to find and the process isn't too complicated, I spent at least an hour there today (wait time between explaining what I needed, dropping off the document and paying) and my (1 page) document won't be ready until Friday. 
  • Ate a delicious dinner at a Uruguayan restaurant, including empanadas, bife de lomo, pasta and panqueques de dulce de leche (which may sound familiar to those of you familiar with my study abroad days in Argentina and visits to Uruguay)
  • Wandered around downtown Coyacan-- very cute area. I'll definitely be going back when it's not dark and raining =) 

Mural outside of the Med School (Facultad de Medicina) at UNAM
The conquest of the energy by José Chávez Morado at UNAM

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New apartment!

I found an apartment!! Nothing is official until Friday, but I'm really excited about it. I'll be sharing it with a roommate from Mexico. I have my own room and we'll share the bathroom, kitchen and living room. It's in a nice area, across from a park and not far from the metro. Photos to come later in the week!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I'm here!

I arrived in Mexico City Monday night. The view from the plane of the vast expanse of glimmering lights of the city at night was breathtaking. As my German seatmate pointed out -- my future home was waiting out there somewhere for me!

I'm currently staying in a hotel as I look for housing. There aren't any student housing options through school so I'm in the process of finding an apartment. I'm fortunate that my dad came down with me to spend a few days vacationing and help me out while attempting to decipher public transportation, find housing and complete a scavenger-hunt style list of requirements for class registration as a foreign student.

On my first full day I:

  • Visited UNAM (and took an unofficial tour trying to locate the buildings I needed)
  • Had my photo taken for registration
  • Got in touch with my thesis mentor
  • Purchased a local cell phone
  • Got some leads on housing options and set up visits 
  • Learned how the metrobus works (note-- different than buses and metros)
  • Ate enchiladas verdes with a limonada 

Interesting sculpture near CEPE (Centro de Ensenanza para Extranjeros)
Main library at UNAM by Juan O'Gorman

Mural by David Siquieros -- El pueblo a la universidad, la universidad al pueblo

Teatro Insurgentes with mural Historia del Teatro (History of the Theater) by Diego Rivera


Bienvenidos! Welcome to "Becca in the DF"! 

I arrived Monday night in Mexico -- the country I'll be calling home for the next two years. This blog will be following my adventures as a 2010-2011 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, a student in the Latin American Studies Master's program at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City, and an individual excited to meet new people, try new foods and see new places in a different culture and language! 

Why is it called "in the DF", you ask? DF stands for Distrito Federal (Federal District), and is the more commonly used name for Mexico City.