Alumni Spotlight: Alison Neevel

Alison Neevel is a sophomore originally from Holland, Michigan attending school at Central College in Pella, Iowa. She is working towards a degree in Elementary Education along with Mathematics. Her hobbies include sports, hanging out with friends, singing, hiking, doing anything outside, and helping others.

Alison Neevel, Study Abroad Student in Merida, Mexico

Highlights: The highlight of my trip here in Mexico was the week long trip we took as a group to the state of Chiapas. This state had beautiful waterfalls we went swimming in, cooler weather (around 70 degrees), great coffee/hot chocolate to enjoy and cheap shopping! We also got to see many more ruins! The highlight of my overall experience was getting to know a different culture and language. I knew some Spanish coming down, but it had been a while since I used it. I will admit it was a challenge at first, but as the weeks went on I became so much more confident talking to people. I loved understanding the cultural differences and even living like them for a weekend (we spent the weekend with host families in a local Mayan village!) Overall, it was a great experience.

Morning: The breakfast bell would ring around 8 am and we would all go down to the breakfast table. After a meal complete with fresh fruit, students would head to their different classes (all in the house we stay in). My classes consisted of Spanish, then History. After class it was usually homework time or time to explore the city.

Students studying abroad in Merida, Mexico

Afternoon: Lunch took place at 1:15, something that took me a while to get use too. After lunch, almost everyone takes a siesta in their hammocks because it is too hot to do anything else. If not a siesta people go to the beach, walk around town, go enjoy ice cream or go sit in the air conditioned coffee shop across the street. One day of the week I even got to teach English in a local elementary school.

Evening: A typical evening involved dinner at 6:30, then taking the bus to el centro to enjoy some sort of concert. Every night there was a different group preforming, dancers or singers in the park. It is fun to people watch, listen the the performance and enjoy fresh sorbet. There are also plenty of options for hitting the discos, too! Some nights we had class but dont worry they were so worth it, the best one being Latin American dance class!