No. 3: Life in Querétaro (weeks 1-3)

September 4, 2013. Querétaro.

Group at Museo RegionalOur first three weeks in Querétaro have been exciting ones for the group. All of the students have settled nicely into their homes and classes are going well. A typical day for the students looks something like this: After breakfast with their families, they either walk or take the bus to the ITQ (the university) for their Spanish composition, conversation, literature or poly sci classes with Mexican professors. During breaks in their morning schedule, students usually go to the library or the cafeteria to work on projects and study.

Group studying at ITQ cafeteriaHatchett with family at home

Following classes, they all head home for comida—the main meal of the day in Mexico—typically served around 3 p.m. Besides enjoying wonderful food, this is also an important time for families to linger at the table for a couple of hours and chat and laugh together.

After comida, students head out again for their evening classes at the Centro Intercultural de Querétaro (CIQ), in the heart of the historic city center. There they enjoy classes in Mexican Art, Mexican History and Civilization, and Latin Dance. After class, students might enjoy tacos at their hangout (“Haga su Taco,” where they already know the owners by name), sit in a coffee shop to study or visit, go out dancing on the town with their new Mexican friends, or, or rare occasions, walk home to get a good night’s sleep.

ITQ Welcome, learning cumbiaSoccer stadiumAinslie getting interviewed at soccer stadiumWe’ve enjoyed several events during our short time here in Mexico thus far. For example, in the first week, the ITQ students hosted a “bienvenida” (welcome party) for us, where we played games, learned to dance cumbia, and enjoyed a meal together on campus. The party continued the next week at a local club where students were able to put their dancing skills to practice with local students.

Our first Friday in town we attended a professional soccer game to support Querétaro’s team, the Gallos, as they faced off—and beat—the Chivas of Guadalajara. Because we knew the game would sell out, we all arrived early to get good seats. As we were waiting outside the stadium, two TV stations (including Fox Sports International) came and interviewed us, and we all saw ourselves on TV—via YouTube—that week. In fact, a couple of days later a cab driver recognized us and made us all feel like local celebrities!

Color Run, Emily and MelissaAnother early highlight was a 5K “Color Run,” in which runners are “surprised” with a different color each kilometer. Although we began the race in clean, white shirts, we ended looking like the rainbow!

Outside of class, students continue to amaze me with their ability to get out and enjoy all that Querétaro has to offer. They’ve attended poetry readings, concerts in the park, church services and local festivals. They continue to honor their “Language Pledge”—to speak only Spanish with each other—and many have already made Mexican friends at the university or through their church here in Querétaro.

A highlight for many of the students is Vespers on Sunday evenings, where we sing, hear the Word, and have an opportunity to share and pray for one another. We’ve been blessed to have some Oregon and Mexican students join us for this special time of communion together. To see more photos and experience our daily life, click on the slideshow below: