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Connecting with my Roots

Azul in front of the Central Library at UNAM
Azul in front of the Central Library at UNAM
Azul Torres
Major: 
Political Science
Program: 
Mexico
Term Abroad: 
Spring 2023

Q: Initially, what made you decide to study abroad? Why did you choose your program?

A: I decided to study abroad in Mexico City because I wanted to get in touch with my culture and get better in Spanish, which I absolutely did. By immersing myself in Mexico City, I was able to understand and cherish my culture. Likewise, having all my classes in my mother tongue made me feel connected with my roots, as well as gaining fluency.

Q: What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?

A: I would say my favorite memory of studying abroad was a mock trial during my Theory of Criminal Law class. During the mock trial, I had the opportunity to be a “Prosecutor” for a murder case, and I was responsible for developing an opening statement and questioning the witnesses. Eventhough I lost my case, I could not be more proud of myself that day because I overcame my fear of public speaking. The feeling after my class that day was indescribable, I felt like I was a real attorney and was so overwhelmed with adrenaline, that I knew that this was the career for me.

Q: What was your greatest challenge abroad and how did you overcome it?

A: The language barrier and my area of study were two aspects that I never imagined would be so hard to overcome. Although I am a native Spanish speaker, it was an adjustment to read, write, and speak it 100% of the time, especially in school because I had to be as professional as I could. In addition, I choose to study law while abroad, which was extremely challenging because I had to learn Mexico’s very complex political and legal system. I remember that on my first day of classes, I called my mom right after, crying because I felt so unprepared, confused, and lost. My mom motivated me with all the right words, pushing me to do my best, and not give up. Even though it took me so long to get adjusted to the language, and classes, I felt so happy that I was studying my passion, the law. Thankfully, with hard work and determination, I obtained a 9/10 final grade in all of my classes. The feeling of relief and excitement of receiving my final grades taught me that I always have to believe in myself and work hard for what I want.

Q: How did your coursework abroad compare to your courses at UC Merced?

A: Compared to my coursework at UC Merced, studying at the National Autonomous University of Mexico was much more difficult. The workload was much heavier, and the classes were very advanced. However, Professors are very helpful in and outside the classroom, as well as making study groups helped me a lot.

Q: What did you gain from your study abroad experience?

A: Overall, this experience led me to confidently believe in myself to go to law school. In fact, as soon as I arrived I started studying for my LSAT, and I am getting as prepared as I can for law school applications. Although studying abroad was a dream come true, I am now back to reality and I am 100% driven to continue to work hard to turn my other dreams into reality as well.

Q: What advice do you have for students considering study abroad?

A: If I could give one piece of advice to students considering studying abroad is to just go for it. I understand it can be very scary, and there may be difficulties like financial, but everything has a solution. Studying abroad is a life-changing experience, so just do it, because you will not regret it. The long application process, the anxiety before leaving, everything is worth this incredible experience.

Q: Describe a typical day abroad.

A: A typical day for me abroad would start at 7:30 am, and I would get ready to walk to my first class. At 9 am I had my Theory of Criminal Law, at 11 am I had my Crimes in Particular class, then I would walk back home to eat. My last class was at 3 pm, and it was Theory of Law, once that was done I would go to the library to study, and then have dinner with my classmates, or roommates. Since I only had classes Tuesdays and Thursdays, those days would be jam-packed with studying, but then I would have the weekend free to visit museums, parks, visit friends, etc.

Q: If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go and why?

A: I would love to go to Italy because for starters I have never been to Europe. I also had a roommate who studied abroad in Italy and told me all about the beautiful sights, and rich culture, so he really inspired me to visit there. The cherry on top is that I am a pasta lover, so Italy would be a dream come true.