Two students from the scenic town of Guadalajara, Mexico made their way to Idaho State University a short week before the fall semester started, both in hopes of improving their English language skills and in making a myriad of new friends.
Cindy Briceno and Juan Pablo Garcia attended the same university, Universidad Jesuita de Guadalajara or the Western Institute of Technology and Higher Education, but did not know each other prior to making the move to Pocatello. Both said they believe they will remain good friends.
“It’s a good thing to have another person from the same place. We understand each other,” said Briceno.
“We get to make fun of stuff,” said Garcia.
“Yeah, like our little cultural differences with the international students or here,” added Briceno in the midst of laughing.
Culturally, Briceno and Garcia said the way people greet each other is completely different in Mexico versus here.
“Like in Mexico, where we say hello, we usually give a kiss on the cheek. Here, no. It’s like ‘hi’ and that’s it. It’s awkward because you don’t know how to interact. It’s funny,” said Garcia.
Both students said Guadalajara provides an alluring view.
“It’s got a huge population. It is a very big city. The traffic is horrible. The people are really nice,” said Garcia. “It has beautiful places, lots of forests. There’s a lake near and it’s very beautiful too. We have many festivals, it’s very nice.”
Garcia said his favorite of the many festivities celebrated in Mexico is “Taco Day”.
“It’s obviously a really small thing, but everybody will be like ‘Oh, it’s taco day,’ so then we will go get tacos,” said Garcia.
Other large festivals and celebrations in Mexico, acknowledged by Briceno and Garcia, include Cinco De Mayo on May 5 which celebrates the victory of the Mexican Army against the French in Puebla in 1862, Independence Day on September 16 which pays tribute to the start of the Independence War in 1810, and Revolution Fest on November 20 which commemorates the start of the Mexican Revolution.
“We like to party,” said Briceno. She added, “We’re going to miss like every single one this semester but we’ll change them for like American ones.”
“We’re looking forward to Halloween here,” said Garcia. “There is Halloween [in Mexico] but only in certain residences.”
As part of their study abroad program, Briceno and Garcia are required to keep at least 12 minimum credits along with higher than a 60 percent in overall grade percentage. They will be attending ISU for one full semester and the credits they receive will transfer to their university in Mexico.
“Our university in Mexico has an exchange program where we can continue paying our tuition there and we can go to another country and have the classes there for a semester,” said Briceno.
“They take into account the credits and the hours and stuff once they see that you put it in, like if we were taking the class over there,” added Garcia.
Majoring in civil engineering, Garcia plans to continue his passion for construction, a passion that grew out of his time working in Mexico, where he was in charge of the quality of small residential houses.
“It was a good job, but I had to quit for the time being, but that’s okay,” he said.
Briceno’s goal is to become an entrepreneur or to earn a top spot in a big organization with a finance related job, specifically in corporate finances. She is majoring in finance.