The people you meet & the stories they tell

Ashleigh Mavros is a sophomore studying journalism with a Spanish minor. She is currently in Merida, Mexico for winter quarter.

While studying abroad you’re guaranteed to have your fair share of run-ins with some interesting characters; I’ve found this to be one of the most interesting aspects of living in a foreign country. I have met some of the most intriguing people of my life in Mexico. Besides the fact of being able to better my Spanish while carrying a conversation with strangers, I came to know many Mexicans and foreigners alike and was amazed at their stories they had to tell. Three of my favorite people that I have met while studying abroad include a circus clown, a group of junior high girls and an adventurous spirit who lived with my host family.

My third week in Mexico I went to the Portuguese Circus with several friends. The circus was certainly entertaining, but my favorite memory from the night comes from intermission. One of the beautiful circus “clowns” was walking around selling memorabilia and we happened to start talking to her. Come to find out she was from Scotland but was traveling the world performing with the circus and knew four different languages. We talked for a short time, and I was even able to find out that her husband played the clown opposite of her in the show; it was absolutely adorable.

I was fortunate enough to spend a day at a private school in Merida as one of the students on the trip was interning as a teacher there. The point of the visit was to practice speaking English with the Mexican students who were learning the language. Every single student I talked to absolutely amazed me; they spoke nearly fluent English and were only in junior high. All of the students were incredible, but a group of girls who I spent time with will always have a special place in my heart. We talked about their dance classes, what Kardashian we liked best and spent a lengthy amount of time discussing their obsession over Justin Beiber. This group of girls was deeply in love with the singer and was beyond excited for the following day, which was his 18th birthday. While eating lunch with the girls, they brought out their sign to show me which they had made to celebrate the next day.

My experience in Mexico would not have been complete without my tía Maria. Maria is originally from Spain, currently lives in Toronto, Canada, but stays with my host mama every year for a short time. I was able to spend two short months with Maria and she still ceases to amaze me with her stories from everything she’s accomplished. Being so independent, she has traveled the world and has seen places I could only hope of one day traveling to. Maria is one of the most eclectic characters I have ever met. Fluent in French, English and Spanish, I always enjoyed her mix of Spanglish and Franglish. I don’t think I realize how fortunate I was to have Maria living in our house. She was always entertaining at the dinner table and helped me along whenever I struggled with my Spanish. One day I can only hope to be as accomplished and cultured as Maria.

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