Your first months are spent struggling with pronunciation and Spanish words and sentences, not understanding Mexican idioms or slang, eating things you’d never tasted before, arriving (too) early at appointments and driving around in crazy traffic and confusing streets.
Yes, the first days, months or years in Mexico can be overwhelming.
Everyone who has moved abroad will go through a cycle that begins with a honeymoon phase. All is new and beautiful.
Then things start to get frustrating, from which you recover and eventually adjust. The ultimate goal is to go native. In other words: To adapt to the way of life of the country that you are living in.
Don’t get scared if you bump into huge cultural differences after some time, this is perfectly normal. And that’s why these phases are part of a cycle; there is no beginning and no end.
After five years in Mexico, I still find myself in the first phase every once in a while.
What else can you do to culturally adjust to Mexico? Here are some tips on how to blend with Mexican culture more easily:
Explore Mexico’s streets
Take a walk in your neighborhood and get to know people, eat at that local taco place and chat, chat, chat. Socializing really helps to get that feeling of everyday life and to blend in.
Know your language
Do your best to speak Spanish, as this is a crucial way in which you can communicate with everyone and get better insight in Mexican culture. When time passes by, you’ll learn more and even start to recognize and use Mexican idioms and slang. ¡A huevo!
Discover what Mexico has to offer
The travel opportunities are endless and the best thing: You can try to do them all since Mexico is your new home!
Bring personal items for tough times
Whenever you feel frustrated about the process of blending in, or getting familiar with Mexican culture, personal items that you brought with you might ease the pain. This really helps to feel more comfortable in difficult moments in the life of an expat.
As blending in might feel like a bumpy ride with a lot of topes, it is definitely possible. What are your experiences in blending in Mexican culture and daily life?
Debbie Vorachen is an expat from the Netherlands who has been living in Mexico for over five years. She is a cultural anthropologist with a passion for intercultural communication and traveling who founded Ahorita YA. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you face any cultural challenges, or if you have any doubts or questions about (living in) Mexico.