Mexico Study Abroad Country Profile

Mexico Overview

Mexico is a country with a rich historical past and a promising future. From the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations to three hundred years of Spanish rule prior to gaining its independence in the early 19th century, there are remnants of Mexico’s past in seemingly every city and town. Everywhere from the capital of Mexico City to the Riviera Maya, Mexico study abroad participants will discover a country awash with culture and tradition. From unique geological wonders like cenotes and the world’s smallest volcano to its strong musical and artistic tradition, there is something to pique every interest in Mexico.

Cultural Highlights

Human presence in Mexico dates back 40,000 years, with complex civilizations emerging over 9,000 years ago thanks to the domestication of corn and the start of an agricultural revolution. Though there is evidence of these ancient civilizations throughout the country, most notably the Mayans and Aztecs, one of Mexico’s most famous cultural treasures is Teotihuacan, located just north of Mexico City. Despite having more than 200,000 inhabitants at its peak, a great deal of mystery still surrounds the site – historians are unsure about the ethnicity or the language of its original inhabitants.

The other cultural treasures of Mexico are many. Football (soccer) is widely revered throughout the country. Mexico is known around the world for its folk art tradition, from indigenous and Spanish crafts to pre-Colombian art. Mexico also has a strong musical tradition, with its basis in the country’s indigenous sounds and heritage. The music of the mariachi is probably the most iconic, though there are a seemingly endless number of genres.

Popular Fields of Study

Mexico is an excellent, accessible destination for students majoring in Spanish or simply looking to improve on their Spanish language skills. Even if you are not studying in Mexico with the intent to study Spanish, you will be hard pressed to not pick some up while you are there.

With over 2,000 institutions of higher education, there is almost no discipline that can’t be catered to in Mexico. Studying any of Mexico’s indigenous groups is popular, with a variety of opportunity for history, architecture, and archaeology or anthropology students. Economics and the social sciences are also accounted for, and Mexico study abroad programs provides a unique opportunity to study a political system that is very similar to that of the US, but carried out in a much different way.

Why Study Abroad in Mexico?

Mexico has many unique advantages as a study abroad destination. Here are ten reasons why you should consider studying abroad in Mexico.

1. Spanish Language

Mexico provides an accessible and culturally-rich backdrop for learning Spanish, whether you are just starting out or polishing your previously acquired language skills.

2. Renowned Civilizations

Mexico was once home to some of the most famous ancient civilizations in the world. Whether you are interested in studying these civilizations or just visiting Teotihuacan on the weekend, you will gain exposure to unique sites and a glimpse of Mexico’s ancient past.

3. Climate

Though Mexico generally only has two climates (“wet” and “dry”), the weather is generally pleasant year-round. A nice respite for those hailing from climates with more seasonal variation.

4. The Riviera Maya

Littered with cenotes and ancient ruins and lined with picturesque white sand beaches, the Riviera Maya is a popular destination for students taking a break from their studies.

5. Mapimi Biosphere Reserve

Situated well away from the light pollution of cities and towns, the Reserve features an observatory that provides an unobstructed view of the night sky.

6. Food

Food in Mexico is unlike the Mexican and Tex-Mex that is common in the United States and elsewhere. Food in Mexico is adventurous and varied (though pickier eaters are accommodated through some of the simpler, more traditional dishes, too). Mexico study abroad participants will find something for their palate here.

7. Mexico City

From its architecture to its football matches, the capital of Mexico City is the heart of Mexican culture and one of the largest cities in the world. Restaurants, churches, and museums are waiting to be discovered.

8. San Miguel de Allende

A popular destination for American and Canadian expatriates, San Miguel de Allende hosts Mexico’s largest competitive film festival (among its other attractions).

9. Music

Music is a major part of Mexican culture, and many of Mexico’s songs transcend popular cultures in other countries. Folk music is also extremely popular and widely varied.

10. Football

As in many other Latin American countries, soccer is incredibly popular in Mexico, and taking in a game surrounded by local fans is an experience not to be missed.

Mexico Study Abroad Statistics

Mexico Country Ranking: 7

(based on total outbound U.S. students)
  • % of U.S. students: 4.2%
  • Total US Students 2005/06: 9,461
  • Total US Students 2006/07: 10,022
  • Yearly 2006/07 Trend: -5.6%
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