San Luis Potosí is located in the center of Mexico, and for me, it is a city that embodies the heart and soul of the Mexican nation and people. From the numerous plazas and public gardens, to the shops and restaurants that align La Avenida Carranza, there is no reason to ever find oneself aburrido/a in San Luis.
Students who study in San Luis Potosí will have the pleasure of attending classes at El Instituto Ramón y Cajal, a school building unlike any high school here in the United States. During the school year, Ramón y Cajal functions as a local private school. It was constructed from the remains of four old houses. While studying at Ramón y Cajal, you will immerse yourself in classic literature from the Spanish-speaking world, build your grammar, discuss Mexican culture, and expand your vocabulary through intensive conversation. However, you will be involved in more than just classes with your peers in Mexico. Each student partakes in a performing art–whether it be theater or choir–and a physical activity–whether it be soccer or dance. For my performing art, I chose theater. To act in a foreign language is certainly a challenge, but it is a highly rewarding experience as well. For a physical activity, I chose dance. By the end of the summer, I could bust a move to reggaeton and salsa. Each student gains something from the courses taught at Ramón y Cajal.
When classes end, there are still a wide variety of activities to keep you entertained in San Luis. Some students catch an afternoon matinee at the local movie theater/shopping mall. In fact, my friends and I went to the movie theater every Wednesday in order to take advantage of tickets being half-price. Watching movies (or even just watching TV with your family at home) is a great way to work on your listening skills. Other students choose to play a rousing game of soccer at El Parque Tangamanga. Some people choose simply to go home and spend time with their host families, which can be a true cultural learning experience in itself.
One important aspect of the program in San Luis is the weekly excursion. In the past, participants have visited Santa María del Río, San Miguel de Allende, and Guanajuato. In the quaint city of Santa María del Río, students get to see firsthand the intricate process that goes into the manufacture of rebozos, traditional Mexican scarves that are woven from silk. In San Miguel de Allende, students will find themselves in a city of beautifully painted buildings. San Miguel is also home to the only Gothic-style cathedral in all of Mexico, which is quite a sight to behold. The excursion to the city of Guanajuato includes a trip to ancient silver mines and the childhood home of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Perhaps some students will even receive a good luck kiss in the legendary Callejón del Beso. Guanajuato is also famous for its mummies, and a visit to the Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato is not easily forgotten! During each excursion, students have the opportunity to shop in local markets, where they will find the best goods for the lowest prices. I, for instance, acquired a sombrero for twenty dollars.
Before returning to Indiana, students typically will spend time in Mexico City, an amazing city with a long, colorful history. While in Mexico City, students will have the chance to see the National Anthropology Museum, home to a plethora of Mayan and Aztec artifacts, such as La Piedra del Sol, a large stone sculpture that contains the Aztec calendar. Their journey into Mexico's past does not stop at the museum. Students also visit Chapultepec Castle, former home of Emperor Ferdinand Maximillian, which sits atop a hill overlooking the entire city. The greatest aspect of the trip to Mexico City is the visit to Teotihuacan, the Aztec ruins outside of the city. To climb the imposing Pirámide del Sol at Teotihuacan and look out across the Mexican landscape is a breathtaking sight.
A summer in Mexico with the Indiana University Honors Program is a truly awesome and rewarding adventure!