Mikaela - Tecnológico de Monterrey

B Arts
Semester 2, 2018 & Semester 1, 2019
This has been the best year of my life and a priceless experience that I would highly recommend to anyone considering it

Academic experience

As the name suggests, Tec is a technological university and most of their subject offerings lie in this area. As a humanities student, there were significantly less classes to choose from within my field, even less so with English availabilities. This was not a huge problem as I had all my electives left, therefore had the freedom to select whichever subjects I liked outside of my majors, including hands on, practical classes such as commercial photography. 

Availabilities can change right up to the week before the semester begins, especially the classes taught in English so make sure you have a lot of flexibility with classes in the likely event that the ones you were approved for are no longer available. 

Classes are different than what we are used to at UQ, with smaller class sizes, and smaller, more frequent tasks to hand in rather than large assessment pieces, much like high school. Despite an increased number of assessments, it was easy to keep on top of and the work was generally much less difficult. Smaller classes also allowed for fellow students to get to know each other, which I enjoyed.

Personal experience

The value of what I gained from a year in Mexico is immeasurable and goes well beyond what I learnt in university. It allowed me the opportunity to form friendships with people from across the globe as well as meet some of my closest friends. 

Mexico is truly enchanting, the FOOD, the warm-hearted people and the beautiful, diverse places to visit are all factors that made my experience unforgettable. In a year I was able to explore a lot of the country on either weekends or over the semester breaks and I still felt like there was so much more to explore. Each region offers something distinct for travellers. Living in Mexico City was an experience in and unto itself with all its mayhem and vibrancy and I loved it. I found the city was also the perfect central base to explore other parts of Mexico on weekend trips as there are a bunch of places worth seeing within four hours of the city. 

Regarding language, no matter how much formal learning one receives, nothing comes close to what immersing yourself in a country of your target language can teach you. Not only do I believe it was auxiliary to my learning, but completely necessary if I had any hope to gain a real grasp on the language. I found myself learning so much faster and gained the confidence to engage in conversations with native speakers. Furthermore, in Mexico I always found people to be incredibly patient and encouraging with foreigners learning the language. I was constantly forced to step outside my comfort zone to speak the language in order to get by in day to day life.


The Tec campus is in the very south of the city, and quite a long way from the city centre and areas where more of the city's attractions lie. The university does not offer accommodation, but you are provided with a list of several university approved and secure housing options near the university. Alternatively, there are several roommate sites online, such as roomgo and dadaroom which I used to look for a place. Many people chose to live close to campus to avoid the long commutes, and if you have classes every day, this would be the better option. Personally, I chose to live in a neighbourhood further from campus, sacrificing time spent on commutes to uni in exchange for the convenience of living closer to everything else and in a much nicer neighborhood. I also moved from living 30 minutes from uni in my first semester (San Francisco, Coyoacan), to an hour away in my second semester (Narvarte), and I can recommend both areas as they each have their advantages.


Overall, Mexico is much cheaper than Australia. Rent is prices vary substantially depending on the neighbourhood but generally prices were cheaper than Brisbane. I paid 400 AUD a month w/bills for a large room in a sharehouse in a nice neighbourhood. Public transport and ubers are very cheap and if you are anything like me, you'll quickly become uber's biggest fan. Supermarket prices are surprisingly similar to Australia and I found that I often spent more to cook for myself than eating out. So I ate out a LOT, given that street food options are limitless, dirt cheap and incredibly delicious. I was able to live and travel very comfortably off youth allowance, my UQ scholarship and taking both the OS help loans available to me. This said, I would budget more than you think you'll spend, especially if you plan to travel at the end of your semester. Given that everything seems to cost so little, it is too easy to say yes to everything, live like a queen and burn through your money.


What I found difficult was to challenge myself to speak the language at every opportunity. In the first semester I became friends with mostly exchange students, and I barely practiced my Spanish with friends. It was an easy out from stepping out of my comfort zone.  In the second semester I was thrown in the deep end and all my friends spoke Spanish, all the time. Being in an event in which everyone is speaking another language and trying to be yourself and reflect your personality in that language really took a lot of effort and was uncomfortable. If I had taken every chance to speak Spanish from the beginning, I could have improved so much more. But once I stopped trying to speak English whenever I could, I improved much faster. This requires feeling a little foolish and just having a go. But that is rewarded by the appreciation people have of your efforts to speak to them in their language, and it will benefit your learning immensely.

Professional Development

As I hope to teach Spanish one day, this experience pushed me closer towards my goal of attaining the fluency required to teach it, in a way that formal learning can’t match. It also allowed me to experience Mexican and Latin culture which will further aid me in one day teaching the language.


I think the highlight of my experience was living day to day amongst a culture so rich and vibrant as a local, rather than a tourist passing through. Mexicans are such friendly people and my experiences day to day and travelling throughout the country were overwhelmingly positive. I also loved gaining the ability to interact with people in their own language. It opened up opportunities to travel with ease, meet people, and form friendships that were never available to me before.

Top tips

More than anything, I would recommend doing a full year of exchange. If you can manage it with your degree, it is worth it. I had so many friends tell me that one semester was too little time and they wished they would have done a full year. In a year you can really become a part of a community, grow friendships, and fully experience the culture. Furthermore, in terms of learning the language, the difference of where my Spanish was after my first semester and where it is now is huge. And I can promise that you will not want to leave Mexico after four short months.