Mexico City, August, UAM University

This year I have chosen Mexico and I was accepted to the General Surgery Department in a Mexico City.  Flying tickets are not cheap, so try to buy them as soon as possible, but even if you’re late, you can fit into 1 thousand euros. Half a year before I came to the exchange, I was contacted by Local Officer (LO) who asked me about which department I prefer, if I already know some places I would like to visit during my stay and if I would like to live in a family or students‘ flat with other incomings. Some time passed, he created FB group before our arrival, gave us schedule with social program and some useful information. Everything seemed fine, but as I came, I’ve realized that from 6 incomings 5 of us will stay in his house with his family and one just one student had already found some other place where to stay in another family (that wouldn’t be strange, but he wrote to each one of us the same thing – that only him/her will stay in his house and others will stay in a flat).

Mexicans in general are very hospitable people, their motto is ‘Mi casa, tu casa’ what means ‘My house, your house’ and they are glad to let you stay with them for as long as you need. The problem in our case was the number of people, 5 incomings + 4 family members, sometimes we ran out of water, toilet was not flushing at all and washing machine was working only thanks to the garden-style-made external source of water. On the other hand, I must admit that WiFi was working well and we have had a big LCD TV with Netflix (not much needed if you want to explore the country obviously). House was located in a very dangerous part of the city, Iztapalapa, luckily nothing had happened to any of us. Mexico is in general considered as a dangerous country, but if you are careful, you pay attention of your surroundings and you don’t do stupid things, you can survive without any accident (I don’t recommend to let your iPhone or purse on the table in a bar while you’re going to the bathroom, it’s impossible that it will be still there when you come back. The same in an extremely crowded public transport, don’t put these things to the parts of a bag where they can be easily stolen – because they definitely will be.)

None of us received meal in a hospital, from the beginning we ate at house, but as long as it was very far from our hospitals (1 hour and half by Metrobus), we were not able to come back home for lunch and we were usually late for the dinner too. For the second half of the month we asked for pocket money that solved our troubles and we ate streetfood or at recommended restaurants near the hospital. In Mexico you can find food everywhere on the street, it’s cheap and very tasty (be careful, they put chilli, sauces and lime into everything – e.g. tacos, tortas, quesadillas, burritos, ice cream, chips and also fresh fruit).

Most of the Mexicans (including doctors and medical students) don’t speak English well, I highly recommend to learn at least basics of Spanish before you go. I spent 4 weeks at General Surgery Department in a private hospital Obregón and I have attended various operations from GIT, Urology, Pediatrics, Orthopaedics, Gyn/Obst, Oncology, Neurosurgery and Plastic surgery. Almost every time I have had an opportunity to scrub in for the surgery. I’ve learned many types of sutures, tried lots of procedures and interesting techniques from each field. Doctors and residents were friendly, all the time joking and helpful.

Mexico City is in general very nice, very large and very crowded city, but every time you go out, there is some new part worth exploring. Museums and parks are closing at 5pm, so plan your visit according that time. You should definitely visit castle Chapultepec, Museum Soumaya, Antropology Museum, Bellas Artes Palace, Latinoamericana building or Dolores Olmedo Museum in Mexico City. During the weekends we tried to travel as much as possible, I recommend to visit beautiful places as pyramids in Teotihuancan, Puebla, Tolantongo, Tepoztlán, Taxco or to go for a weekend to the sea to Acapulco. All of the mentioned are not very far from the city, just 1-5 hours by bus. Flying tickets to the most beautiful beaches in Cancún are rather expensive than cheap, so if you are decided to go, buy them in advance.

To sum up, Mexico is a piece of art in this word, truly worth visiting! <3

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