As I approach 2 years of living in Mexico, it still amazes me how much I learn everyday from living in a different culture.
Below are some recent observations I’ve made from living here. I hope you’ll take them as just that-my observations. I always say that no culture is better or worse-they are just different.
On Long Relationships:
I know a lot of couples that are either in the middle of long relationships (they might be 22 and have been together for 6 years) or couples that are my age and that are getting married after dating for 9 or 10 years. After just a few months here, I realized this was really common. I developed a theory as to why: It’s uncommon for people to “go off to college” here. Most people study in the city where they’re from while living with their parents (college dorms are uncommon as well). The factors that might break up relationships that began in high school in the US, such as the new distance between them at college, are never a factor here.
From my point of view, American young people are much more independent than Mexican young people. Here, it’s the norm to live with your parents if you are single, whether you be 20 or 25 or 30 or sometimes older. Perhaps the most confusing part to me is that oftentimes, the kids are easily making enough money to afford living alone, but they choose not to. Maybe they’re spoiled (which might also explain delaying marriage), or maybe it says a lot about the importance of family to Mexicans.
On Middle-Class Living:
It’s hard. Oftentimes, it means working really long hours as an engineer at a factory, because those are the jobs that pay well. However, they never pay quite enough to push you into the upper class. Many of my students at Berlitz had good positions in local factories (Chrysler and General Motors, for example), and it was not unusual for them to work 12-hour days and then go to English class for another 1.5 hours at night (in the hopes of getting a better position with their knowledge of English). I don’t know when they saw their families. But I can’t really blame them, because the reason they have those jobs to begin with is to provide for those same families-to give their kids a good education and a chance to succeed. Because, much more so than in the US, life in Mexico isn’t fair, and you do whatever you can to not make that true for your family.
Whenever Carlos tells me to “be careful,” on the roads, I usually get defensive and say that I’m a good driver. “Yes,” he’ll say, “but the problem isn’t you, it’s the other drivers you have to be careful of.” He’s right, of course. The worst drivers on the road aren’t normal people. They’re the taxi and bus drivers. Two weeks ago I was driving downtown and waiting to turn left. I was feeling particularly plucky and the lanes were narrow, so I blocked a bus from passing me in the right lane. Then I felt bad, in the event that he actually was going to make a right turn, so I let him pass me when I got the chance. Did he turn right? Of course not. He turned left from the right lane and saved himself maybe 5 seconds.
-If you want to fit in at the gym, don’t wear shorts. Even if it’s July and if your gym doesn’t have AC. I have yet to figure out why because Mexican women have no problem showing their legs in other settings.
-Weddings are almost always formal, and because of that, having a dress rental business is very lucrative. I know this because I recently went to a wedding and had to pay $60 to rent a dress that I wore for 6 hours (that doesn’t include the gas that I spent on the 3 trips I made to the dress rental place-the 1st time was to try on and decide on a dress, the 2nd time was to pick up the dress the day before the event, and the 3rd time was to take back the dress the Monday after.)
-Girls love heels here, at all hours of the day and on all days of the week. Even if I looked Mexican, I’m pretty sure people would be able to tell I wasn’t because I love flats. I was so relieved when the rental dress mentioned above was just long enough on me, ruling out the possibility of wearing heels. On the rare occasion that I actually do wear heels (wedges, actually), I always promise myself it will be the last time because I always trip or one of my feet turns in when I take a step and I come so close to falling.
I’m hoping to make these posts more regular so stay tuned. Thanks for reading!