Study Abroad
Western Michigan

1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo, Michigan
49008-5245 USA
Phone (269) 387-5890
Fax (269) 387-0630


2425 Ellsworth Hall
WMU Mail Stop 5245

Joanna Peszko--Mexico
Study Abroad Spotlight
Study Abroad Destination
Quaretaro, Mexico
Spring 2004
Ladies and Gentlemen don’t think about it, just do it! This little phrase was the best advice anyone ever gave me about studying abroad. Do not waste time wishing about going, GO! Forget the fears and worries about being away from home and friends, because you will discover a home away from home and friends that you will have for a lifetime.
Querétaro, México is now my second home. I was terrified about going, absolutely terrified. I cannot even begin to describe all the worries I had. Any doubt, any fear that I had upon my arrival was forgotten the moment I saw my host family smile at me. My host family was incredible. I felt very welcomed. The were very patient, understanding and so eater to help me feel more comfortable. My host mom is a great cook, the food…amazing. I think I spent most of my time eating…yum!
The language barrier was frustrating at first, but bit-by-bit it became less of an issue. I was impressed by the importance of family in México. My second week there, my host dad had a small surgical procedure done to his eye. He arrived at home from the hospital around 8:00pm and by 10:00pm the entire extended family; cousins, aunts, uncles and neighbors were in the kitchen eating quesadillas. It was insane. The whole experience itself was an adventure.
I definitely had moments when I wanted to take the next flight home and also moments where leaving was never an option. Prior to my study abroad experience I was a homebody. I thought I would live in Michigan for the rest of my life. I thought I had everything planned out. I was wrong. I have the travel bug now so wherever I happen to end up in the future will be a mystery…the journey there is half the fun. Experiencing another culture and another country really opens up more doors and opportunities. Learning how to live life in México was the most rewarding. Learning how to survive. I knew I felt at home when my surroundings became familiar and I felt I fit in. I discovered the best taco stands, short cuts, taxi bartering, and phrases that only the natives knew. I discovered more confidence in myself.
Studying abroad was the best thing that ever happened to me. I went into the trip not knowing anyone. I made incredible friends from the US and Mexico. It was much more than I could ever imagine. Just being there, hearing the sounds, smelling the smells, seeing the sights in person is indescribable and irreplaceable. It is something that will always be a part of me. Being out of my comfort zone I discovered the things that I could live with and those that I could live without. My priorities became more simple and clear. I am by far a better person today because of my experience. I think it should be required for everyone to get out of the country and go somewhere else. I remember listening to stories about traveling and being in bizarre places and situations. Now, I have my own stories to tell.
No one can tell the best way o experience it you have to make it your own. People always tell me, “I don’t speak a foreign language,” as an excuse to not study abroad. You don’t have to speak a foreign language! There are so many opportunities so many programs that there is a perfect destination for each person. GO! Just go, don’t think about it, just do it!!