Battling stereotypes by Ashleigh Mavros

It is truly saddening to see just how ignorant some people are of what lies outside the American border, especially when it comes to studying abroad. This experience before even setting foot out of the country opened my eyes to just how strong stereotypes are rooted into the lives of many Americans, most whom have most likely never even traveled outside the state.

However, amidst all the critics there were a few who helped me remember why I was so passionate about studying abroad. The mother of one of my friends actually attended Ohio University and was a student on the Mayab program for two years as an undergrad. It was amazing listening to her gush on about all her excursions, still vividly explaining every detail of her trip and reminiscing on one of her best experiences yet to date. Another lady I met had actually taught English in a small Mexican pueblo for five years and said she would someday like to return to live in Mexico because she loved the country so much.

Don’t ever, ever let opinions or stereotypes damper your desire to study abroad in another country. Everyone who told me how unsafe Mexico is were completely wrong. I feel safer in this city than I do in my own hometown, and even the locals will tell you that this is one of the most tranquil cities in all of the country, destroying many of the stereotypical ideas of all Mexican cities being tainted by drugs and violence.

I am positive that even after only three weeks in Mexico so far, this has been the best experience of my life. One of the things I look most forward to about returning from Mexico is having the knowledge and experience to change the mind of at least person who knows so little about what lies outside their own border.

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