CATCHING UP… is a series of blog posts ‘catching up’ with current or former Redeemer members who are now elsewhere. Please continue to pray for them! Some are studying for a year and coming back, others have moved on permanently.
Hi, I’m Alice and I am currently on my study year abroad in Mexico! I am a 3rd year student studying International Relations at the University of Essex. I am almost half way through my time here in Mexico and it has been a completely new, unexpected and life-changing experience so far.
I found it extremely difficult choosing the ‘perfect’ place to go for this year abroad but decided on a Spanish-speaking country to improve my very basic Spanish. I was stuck between Spain and Mexico, but after prayers and weighing up the pros and cons; I went for Mexico. I don’t really know why I chose to go here as the cons definitely did outweigh the pros. Far away, an 8 hour time difference and expensive flights. Regardless, I kept feeling drawn to Guadalajara and I couldn’t let the idea go.
I had always wanted to visit Mexico and imagined it to be an amazing place to visit. I even had a ‘Mexican’ themed birthday party for my 18th which, of course, featured sombreros, maracas and fake moustaches. Although I thought I had a great idea of what Mexican life would be like through this Mexican fiesta; upon arrival, it was far from how I had expected.
These first 4 months have definitely not gone as I would have planned. Being an optimist, I had imagined my same life in Colchester but just… in Mexico. This wasn’t the case. I knew it would be hard but I really didn’t actually think it would be this hard.
Although people had tried to prepare me by saying ‘wow that will be so tough’ ‘oh that’s so far away’ ‘Mexico is very dangerous, right?’ I still felt it was where I should be. Due to language barriers and unfamiliarity, things seemed quite stagnant at first, sometimes at the weekends all my plans would fall through and I would spend this time just sitting in my room feeling discouraged as to why my plans were not working. However, I knew God was still calling me and had a plan for me here.
One of the reasons I found things difficult in the first few months of being here was finding a church community. I realise how much Redeemer had blessed me and how I LOVE church community! I was craving fellowship but the only churches I could find at first were Spanish speaking. As my Spanish is not at an advanced level yet, I found this extremely challenging to connect with people in Churches. After praying and searching for a church, an international church had just started in the city and I decided to get involved. After just a few weeks, I felt so welcomed and I am excited to see how God will use this church to bless the city. I also found a campus mission outreach group that have an open house on a Wednesday for any student at the university to eat, hang-out and play games which is so much fun! Top tip- if you plan to study abroad, check for international churches if you are not super great at the language yet. It will help you feel more settled and connected more quickly as I don’t think it’s so great sitting in a service you don’t understand!
Even though this has been a complete change in life ‘tempo’ and being over 5,000 miles from home, God’s love remains. As always, whether I could see it or not, He has being doing great things. I have grown through ways where I thought I had no growing room left and God has been teaching me great things. I have learnt that it isn’t always through doing and doing that we succeed in life, but simply it is when we are obedient to Him and trust in his perfect plan.
As I approach the end of my first semester here with just one week left until I return to the UK for Christmas, I look forward to returning in January 2019 and seeing what God has instore. I am grateful for the way that He knows just what we need when we need it even when we may think otherwise. He always knows better!