Who are you?
I’m a Texan who loves teaching, reading, doing exercise, and hanging out with my dogs. In the photo, I’m the one in yellow.Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I moved to Puebla, Mexico in 2007 because I’d studied abroad there and wanted to start teaching English using the contacts I already had.
What challenges did you face during the move?
The move itself was easy because I just came with two suitcases. My first few months here were quite challenging, as I discovered that there were many bureaucratic hurdles to getting jobs, opening bank accounts, and even renting an apartment. Additionally I found it difficult to make friends and I didn’t like how people stared at me or treated me like I was an alien that had just landed.
Are there many other expats in your area?
Some. There isn’t a large community like in some other cities, but there are a fair number of Americans studying or working here.
What do you like about life where you are?
The city is small and fairly safe. It’s easy to get around, the historic downtown area is beautiful, and there are tons of wonderful towns and natural parks to visit nearby. Plus it’s easy to travel via bus or plane (Puebla has a small international airport and the huge Mexico City airport is just two hours away).
What do you dislike about your expat life?
Some little things are frustrating. For example, doing anything in person at the bank or at a government office can take hours or even days if you have an especially thorny case. And it’s annoying to have to constantly buy bottled water every week or so, and to have to wait at home for the gas truck to come by because you’ve run out of gas for your water heater and stove.
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
The lifestyle. Mexicans are hard-working but also very laid-back. Plans are always casual and liable to be cancelled at any minute, and parties last all night. Some wedding receptions even offer breakfast at 6am the following morning!
What do you think of the food and drink in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?
I’m in food heaven here. I grew up eating tons of spicy food and here everything is served with a myriad of hot sauces. What I enjoy most is the street food – tamales, esquites (boiled corn with chili powder, mayonnaise, and cheese), chanclas (a sandwich filled with beans, lettuce, and tomato and soaked in pork chili) – and all the sweet bread baked daily in family-owned bakeries. As for drinks, the “aguas frescas” made from fresh fruit are divine. My favorites are chia-lime and watermelon.
What have you learned from living abroad?
I’ve learned how to be more flexible and adaptable in all areas of my life.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Keep an open mind and remember to always be patient. There are a lot of red tape and corruption here, but you’ll always have many wonderful experiences to make up for that!
What are your plans for the future?
I’m going to stay here for the foreseeable future. I recently bought a house and started my own English school, and I’m really enjoying both!
Would you like to share your experience of life abroad with other readers? Answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!