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In México, culture and tradition are seen as central to life and society. Mexican people are warm and vivacious individuals with an incredible zest for life.

“Deserve your dream”

– Octavio Paz (Méxican writer and poet).

“Mas te tardas en encontrar el placer que lo que dura”

– It takes longer to find pleasure than to enjoy it.

Bienvenido a México!

With the third largest metropolis in the world (following New York and Tokyo) México City is the epicentre of México. Officially called Estados Unidos Méxicanos, México is home to about 1.08 million people, of which 19.5 million reside in México City alone! There is a plethora of diverse food and people within the cities and villages of México. The language spoken is Spanish but citizens are called Mexicans (not to be confused with people from Spain who are Spanish). The currency in México is pesos (MXN), where $1 = 1.98MXN. Finally, the weather in México is difficult to predict as typical weather patterns within the country vary significantly from region to region. The winter months extend from November to May and the summer months run from June to October.

Interesting Facts

National Holidays and Celebrations:

  • The largest holiday falls on September 16 – the Mexican Independence Day is the day when México gained independence from Spain

  • On Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) people decorate tombstones and put out food for their dead to honour México’s dead souls returning to the cemetery

  • Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe (Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe) is on December 21st and celebrates the Virgin Mary’s appearance to Juan Diego

  • March 21st celebrates the birthday of Benito Juarez Birthday, who was the first indigenous president of México


  • Enchiladas: tortilla covered with red chilli with a chicken or pork filling

  • Mole: a chilli-chocolate sauce poured over chicken

  • Pozole: like a soup with hominy and pork

  • Menudo: similar to pozole but with cow stomach

  • Tortillas: thin flat bread made of corn dough or corn flour

  • Gorditas: rolled-up tortillas with a filling/stuffing

  • Tamales: corn dough (masa)

  • Salsa and guacamole (no explanation needed!)

People, Places, Things

  • Frida Kahlo, a painter, is one of the most famous women in the world since 1983

  • Octavio Paz, a novelist and essayist, was awarded the 1990 Nobel Prize for Literature

  • The piñata

  • Children are given both their father’s last name and mother’s maiden name to help preserve the heritage of both parents

  • The smallest volcano is Cuexcomate and stands inactive at only 43 feet tall in the city of Puebla

  • México has one of the oldest living trees in the world. The Arbol de Tule, in Oaxaca, is more than 40 feet tall and is more than 2000 years old

  • During the two equinoxes of the year, when the sun rises and sets, the pyramid El Castillo in Chichén Itzá shows the perfect shadow of a serpent moving along its side

  • Catedral Metropolitana one of the biggest churches on the planet and the first to be built in the ‘new world', located in Zócalo

  • El Templo Mayor is what's left of the Great Temple of the Aztecs after the Spanish had arrived in México.

  • There is ‘Boiling water' and a frozen waterfall at the Hierve el Agua mineral springs


  • In México, culture and tradition are seen as central to life and society. Mexican people are warm and vivacious individuals with an incredible zest for life.

  • Family is also very important and a cornerstone of the culture. It is normal for three or four generations of family to meet up for afternoon lunch to talk, gossip and laugh together.

  • Handshakes are viewed as being the standard greeting and before even attempting to ask a question or make a request it is important to shake hands and exchange greetings. One kiss on the cheek is a common greeting between friends.

  • It is important to address all members of a group individually –greeting a group of people in the collective sense is viewed as being both lazy and rude.

  • Professional titles are important. Anyone with a professional degree should always be addressed with the title of their professional equivalent.

  • México has a slower pace of life, except in México City and Monterrey, but México generally is laid back, with emphasis on a cool, calm and collected pace.

  • Mexicans are not big on personal space, and locals stand somewhat closer than usual when engaging in conversation.

  • It is considered bad mannered to end a conversation by stating that you soon need to be somewhere else.

  • The siesta time falls between 2 and 5 pm every day. During this time many people may be unavailable and places closed.

  • The cost of living is lower than that of Canada, particularly in terms of groceries and transportation, however utilities are more expensive and prices for electricity are high.

  • Nightclubs in México begin letting people in around 11pm (at the earliest) and stay open until 7 or 8 the next morning.


Student's Perspective

Jan Hilario from Business
Employer: Colegio Madison, Mexico

This work term, I am simultaneously teacher and student. Yes, I’m developing all those soft and hard skills that BOL I talks about so much. I’m learning all of those things…and then some. After all, Mexico isn’t a playground; it’s the classroom.

We’re also learning to be independent. For the children, school is the wobbly initiation into society’s routines. For some teachers, it’s the first time they’ve had a steady paycheque in Mexico’s seesaw economy. For me, independence has translated into a new job and a new home in a country where I have never been, with people I never knew before.

And finally, we are all learning that it wasn’t Curiosity that killed the cat, it was those two sly brothers Boredom and Apathy; so ask, ask and ask questions about the world.

Beyond the Blog

  • Visit International Co-op to learn about amazing work opportunities all around the world, and our International Opportunities page

  • Fill in the Expression-of-Interest Form if you would like to work abroad

  • Check out the International Profiles to see all the other places our students have visited

  • Be sure to check out the International Spotlight articles for The U.K, Germany, China, Australia,France and India!

International Co-op Assistant
visibility  115
Dec 17, 2010

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