Jennifer Glancey is a gap year student from the UK studying law with Spanish at University. She is interning in Oaxaca, Mexico as a Law intern working for a local non-profit human rights organization.
How are you settling down in Mexico?
After my first nearly two months here I have managed to settle into a good routine and make even more memories. I was worried that living on my own for the first time would mean that it would be harder to stick to healthy habits, however, I have managed to balance my internship, going to my local gym, exploring the city, eating a balanced diet, and having a social life.
Why did you choose to intern in Oaxaca?
Perhaps the main reason why I wanted to come to Mexico at this time was for the Day of the Dead. Some events were canceled due to the pandemic, but that didn’t stop the streets from being full of decorations, dancers in costumes, mariachi bands, children dressed up going trick-or-treating in addition to the many other day of the dead related events going on. My personal favorite was a chocolate tasting – something I had been longing to do so I went and learned so much about the chocolate-making process and even more about the history of chocolate in Mexico. It was the busiest I’d ever seen the city with thousands of tourists filling once-empty streets. It truly was such a happy colorful celebration and I’m so glad I was able to witness it.
What are some of your favorite experiences in Oaxaca?
My roommates and I have been keeping ourselves busy and going to multiple places to explore this diverse state. We went to one pueblo called Etla as we heard there was a swimming pool there. It was a beautiful town in the mountains but as we walked through trying to find this swimming pool we had seen on google maps – the direction we were heading did not look very promising; but we then managed to find this pool with slides, a restaurant and bar, and beautiful views. We even made friends with other groups of people that were there, it still surprises me how friendly and kind everyone I have met here is. I also went to the Tlacolula market with some friends and I loved it. It was the typically busy and bustling market you would expect, decorated beautifully with so many colorful banners and, and had everything you could imagine: from fruit to fruit blenders and meat to leather products. One food I could not resist having was the fried plantains, they are extremely popular here and if I were to revisit Mexico it would absolutely be one of the first foods I would have.
What did you enjoy about your law internship in Mexico?
As for my law internship, I am still blown away every day by how kind and friendly the lawyers I work for are. Even though they are surely busy people they always take time to check on me, ask how I’m finding Oaxaca, explain legal concepts to me, and will take time to talk to me so I can practice my Spanish. They have even lent me some books and encouraged me to push my limits by reading some famous Mexican literature such as books by Juan Rulfo. As for the work I’m doing, I’m also so happy about how they have given me tasks with some responsibility. Aside from the case of the Atoyac river which is still ongoing, I also learned about a different case concerning Oaxacan Paralympic athletes who had not yet received money from the government which they were owed after winning medals. I helped in this case by writing and transcribing letters that were then sent to the local judges to try and resolve the case by informing them of legal updates – this made me feel so involved as if my efforts might actually have an outcome on the future of the case! Aside from gaining legal knowledge, this experience has taught me so much about the Mexican legal system and encouraged me to look more into the legal system in the UK as well; it has also taught me more about the inequality and injustice that a lot of people in Mexico face, and made me more determined to do as much as I can for this important organization.
What are some challenges you faced?
One challenge I am trying to overcome is understanding people. I am becoming fairly confident in my own Spanish and have very few problems communicating with others, but there are a few occasions when people talk to me very quickly with accents that I’m not used to. This is the reality of learning a language. Although occasionally it seems like a tough listening challenge, I know that when I return my own accent will have improved. If I can understand what some people are saying here – I think I can understand anything!
What did you like about interning in Mexico?
During my time in Oaxaca I’ve made Mexican friends, done a hike in the mountains, gone to an Oaxacan cooking class (a personal favorite), and done so much that I never would have done had I not taken this opportunity, and it has completely enriched my experience here. On my return to the UK (aside from the sunny weather and incredible food), I will miss the friendliness of people. So many people will go above and beyond to ensure that you are happy and enjoying yourself. I have found that Mexicans love making plans which have been great as I consider myself more of a shy person so I have been gently pushed outside of my comfort zone and made so many friends and memories in the process.
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