I studied at two universities; at the UABJO I studied alongside other American students and at the Mesoamericana I was the only American in otherwise-Mexican classrooms. My classes with locals were the most challenging because the teachers kept the class moving at a pace appropriate for the whole class, whether I understood all the information or not. The Meso did not have much experience with international students. So, my Spanish was good going in but came out even better because I was forced to communicate with university classmates and administration who knew little to no English. The challenges I encountered inspired and strengthened me and I thoroughly enjoyed the academics of this experience.
My site director in Oaxaca always responded promptly to my questions and concerns. She lives in Oaxaca and is available by phone, email, or can meet with you in person. When I came to her about academic problems with the Meso, she accompanied me for emotional support when I met with my teacher outside of class. My director helped explain the situation and propose solutions. Together, the three of us resolved the matter quickly and effectively. My director is bilingual in Spanish and English but often gave me the option to resolve my own problems because she knew I spoke Spanish and that I had come to practice it. I really appreciated that. If I was ever uncomfortable, though, she was happy to step in. My director organized fun group activities but wasn't overbearing. She gave us lots of opportunity to explore independently and I enjoyed that.
Sol was the most cost-efficient program my university had to offer, but no amount of quality was sacrificed. The academics were excellently challenging and engaging and the university administration was very attentive. Outside the classroom, I loved the cultural activities Sol arranged for us. These included dance classes, a beach trip, museum tours, and craft workshops. This was a great way to experience Mexican culture and bond with the other students in my group. At my host family home, I felt completely integrated. After a long day of classes or group activities I liked coming home to speak Spanish with my host mom over meals in a way that felt natural and non-threatening compared to a classroom. On weeknights and weekends I would go out with Oaxacan friends I'd made at school. My study abroad experience felt well-rounded and balanced nicely between academic and social components.