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Discovering Mexico's Culture and Language through Immersion with My Host Family and New Friends

December 2022 found me living, working and studying in the state of Cuernavaca, Morelos in Mexico. No, it wasn't a vacation. I'm always continuing my education, as Spanish will always be my second language. There will always be dialects, jargon & slang to learn as well as the culture. I immersed myself fully, living with a host mom, going to school daily and interacting with locals and absorbing the culture.

I hate how the media is destroying the tourism of Mexico. It’s a beautiful country with wonderful people. I appreciated all the concern about my safety, but as a single female, I have to be just as vigilant in the U.S. as I do anywhere else. I joked that if I died while there, it would be because of the traffic (it was horrendous) not the drug cartel.

My experience was downright unforgettable. My host mom not only opened her home to me, but her heart  as well. She, along with the many fantastic people I met, are now lifelong friends. Before I even left, everyone asked me when I was coming back. Being in a different country can be intimidating  But people were kind & patient with this Gringa.

My school schedule consisted of four hours a day, five days a week for the whole month of December. It was a very intense program: 2 hours in grammar, a small break, then 2 hours in conversation. However, my teacher, Lupita, made it fun and helped me grow in my language journey. We had fantastic conversations and on my last day, we celebrated by going to a pandería, a bakery where I bought almost one of everything!

One of the directors of the school took me on a “field trip” to a hog  farm when he learned of my agricultural background. It was eye opening to see production ag in a different way.

I couldn’t help but smile, when, on my last day there, while waiting for my ride to the airport  , my new friends and I sat around my host mom’s kitchen table, drinking tea  laughing at our new inside jokes, all the while talking in Spanish.

Each time I travel, I make new connections, learn new things, and grow a little more. People thought I was crazy for doing this on my own. I’ve grown to enjoy and value my independence and can’t wait to see where this life takes me next.

I have gotten used to a few versions of my name is Spanish: Kati (kah-tee), Catarina (Cat-ah-reen-ah) which means ladybug  and perhaps my favorite, simply, Señorita. I'll answer to any of those.

I love that I took a leap of faith to choose this career path/lifestyle. It's not for everyone, but it's for me, in this season of my life. I am grateful for the opportunities that continue to come with it.

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