9 Reasons to Study Abroad in Mexico

Mexico's study abroad programs allow students to earn college credit while visiting historical sites, eating tasty food, and mastering Spanish.

portrait of Nalea Ko
by Nalea Ko

Published May 25, 2022

Edited by Will Baker
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9 Reasons to Study Abroad in Mexico
Image Credit: John Coletti / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Universities across the globe continue to welcome international students to their campuses, despite the fact study abroad numbers among American students dropped by more than 50% in 2019-20. From 2015 to 2020, the percentage of study abroad students in Latin America decreased from 16.3% to 13.4%, according to NAFSA.

Still, many U.S. institutions continue to offer study abroad programs in a variety of fields. Many of these programs partner with Mexico's top universities to provide study abroad opportunities for students in Mexico.

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Ready to start your journey?

Why study abroad in Mexico? In addition to being inexpensive, Mexico is rife with one-of-a-kind historical and cultural sites you don't want to miss.

1. You'll Get to Experience Mexican Culture Firsthand

Mexico has many influential cultural exports, from cuisine and art to music and entertainment. Study abroad students can experience firsthand what they've likely only seen on social media.

Depending on where you live during your study abroad experience, you could travel to the Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula, celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the state of Puebla, experience Chinelos dancers in Cuernavaca, or participate in Día de Muertos in Mexico City.

The opportunity to experience cultural celebrations and historical sites provides a chance for you to expand your global perspective, eat local foods, and develop an even deeper appreciation for Mexican culture.

2. You'll Have Plenty of Programs to Choose From

The top study abroad programs accept students from various majors. Students studying abroad in Mexico can learn many subjects: coding, global health, leadership in social justice and public policy, liberal arts, physical therapy, and more.

You could spend weeks or 1-2 semesters studying in Mexico, all while earning college credit. Colleges may offer programs to all undergraduate and graduate degree-seekers, or specifically for juniors and seniors.

Mexico's study abroad programs also offer service learning projects that provide work experience and Spanish practice in Mexico's rural and urban areas.

3. You'll Receive a High-Quality Education

Many U.S. colleges and universities — including DePaul University, Lehigh University, Texas Tech University, and American University — maintain academic exchange partnerships with premier Mexican institutions, such as:

Mexico has worked for decades to forge strong partnerships with leading colleges in the U.S., particularly with those located by the U.S.-Mexico border. These alliances facilitate academic research and student exchange programs.

4. You Can Learn Spanish in an Immersive Environment

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Spanish is the second-most widely spoken language in the U.S. after English.

Study abroad students can improve their Spanish skills — and arguably even their job opportunities — by engaging in community activities, social events, and internships while in Mexico. You can also take Spanish courses to supplement your immersion.

Mexico's diverse languages, foods, and cultures reflect the Spanish influence and a combination of indigenous groups, including the Mayans, Nahuas, Otomís, and Zapotecs. College students who study a foreign language like Spanish can often improve their fluency by living and interacting with Spanish-speaking hosts.

5. You Can Eat Authentic Mexican Cuisine

Many U.S. institutions, including the University of Chicago, offer study abroad programs in Oaxaca, which has been hailed as the Mexican culinary capital.

The city serves up unique Mexican fare like tlayudas, memelas, and specialty chocolate. Study abroad students can also live with host families who often introduce students to authentic Mexican home cooking.

By sampling different foods, you can better understand the culinary history of Mexico that dates back to before the colonization of Latin America.

6. The People Are Warm and Friendly

Mexicans have a global reputation for being extremely friendly and a generally happy bunch. According to the 2018 World Happiness Report, which surveyed 6,488 people in the country, Mexico ranked 24th out of 156 countries for happiness.

The welcoming nature of Mexican people allows students to practice their Spanish and make friends. Despite language barriers, many study abroad students credit the country's friendly atmosphere with making their study abroad experience special.

7. You Can Explore Beautiful Landscapes

Mexico's 31 states feature diverse ecosystems. Each region boasts a distinct culture and climate, with deserts, rainforests, volcanoes, beaches, and valleys.

Study abroad students often live in Mexico City where they can visit some of the country's best museums and the floating gardens of Xochimilco.

Another popular region students might study abroad in is Oaxaca, home to the Monte Albán archaeological site and petrified waterfalls at Hierve el Agua. You can also study abroad in Cancún or Baja, which are famous for their beaches and party atmospheres.

8. It's Inexpensive to Study In

American money goes far in Mexico, with exchange rates continuing to rise in favor of the dollar. The peso hovered at around 19.84 per U.S. dollar, as of late May 2022. As a result, food, transportation, entertainment, and tuition at Mexican universities generally cost less compared to the U.S.

Consider that the cost of a Metro ticket in Mexico — some of the cheapest Metro fares in the world — costs 5 pesos, or about 25 U.S. cents. Not only that, but students may also be able to use their financial aid toward study abroad expenses.

9. You Can Immerse Yourself in Rich History

Latin America and the Caribbean boast 147 World Heritage sites, 35 of which can be found in Mexico, according to UNESCO. Mexico ranks seventh among countries with the most World Heritage sites.

Students can enrich their cultural understanding by visiting these sites, which include the 16th-century Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque Hydraulic System on the Central Mexican Plateau, the ancient rock painting of the Sierra de San Francisco, and a monarch butterfly biosphere reserve.

Frequently Asked Questions About Studying Abroad in Mexico

How much does it cost to study abroad in Mexico?

Costs for study abroad programs in Mexico vary by school. Students often pay flat program fees which include tuition and fees, international health insurance, room and board, and transportation.

Mexico's study abroad programs may let students complete all their college language requirements, which can save you time and money in the long run. Schools may also offer loans and scholarships to help students pay for study abroad expenses, such as plane tickets.

Where should I study abroad in Mexico?

Besides studying in Mexico City, students may live with families in smaller towns and in regions such as Oaxaca, Cancn, Cuernavaca, Baja, and Yucatn. Where a student lives in Mexico depends on their preference, their major, and the program's focus.

Other factors that may influence a student's decisions include costs, with nonmetropolitan areas often offering a cheaper cost of living.

What are the requirements to study abroad in Mexico?

What you need to get into a study abroad program depends on the school. Common requirements include a minimum 2.5 GPA. Students must usually submit college transcripts, references, and a personal essay.

Programs may also require a language prerequisite or only accept applications from students in their third or fourth year of study.

Mexico features a simple visa process for U.S. students. The country often grants students on short-term study abroad programs visa-free entry.

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