Viva Mexico! (aka I love modern medicine)
Happy 2012 Everybody!
Thanks for stopping by By now I hope that you are well on your way to submitting your application to the Korbel School for 2012 admission! If you have any questions, post them below…
Today is my first Korbel blog post of the new year, and of this Winter interterm break. Classes start back up tomorrow. I will be taking program co-director, George DeMartino’s, International Trade class (DeMartino has been regularly recognised, both officially and unofficially, as one of the best Korbel School professors and his class is very sought after, so very happy to have got into this one for more reasons than just because it covers a lot of material I am very interested in!), a class in Economic Development and I will, with mixed feelings of anticipation and trepidation, be moving on up to Statistics II after being pleased to announce that Statistics I was a roaring success….!
The Winter interterm is a funny old creature – about 5 or so weeks long in all! I was quite shocked by this fact when I first found out, since I haven’t had a vacation that long in over 5 years, but apparently it’s a natural side effect of the fast-paced Quarter System that the Korbel school employs.
So when classes and papers were over and out of sight, I decided to use my break in the following ways (bearing in mind that my next break – Spring Break – will be only a week or so and Summer will be occupied by an internship/work):
Week 1: From what I recall there was quite a lot of snow this week – the heaviest since I arrived in Denver. It really was beautiful though – crispy, white, clean, shimmering in the Colorado sun, which, as we should all know by now (I think I quoted this claim about 50 times during this break when asked by friends/family how I am enjoying Denver) is out and shining in this State more often than it is in Miami and San Diego! My only complaint is that it makes it slightly difficult for me to get around, since I rely primarily on my feet (invested in a second hand pair of snowboots at last) and my wheels, and my bike does not mingle well with snow. Still, I did not starve or anything and next quarter I may even invest in some kind of special bike tread that I’ve heard these snow-inclined people can put on their tyres to stop slipping around so much. Then I’ll be a real Coloradoan (Coloradian?…). During this time I also got the opportunity to head into the office to do some more work for the Chamber of the Americas, where I have been interning this quarter, including finishing up some press releases and my report on trade and investment in the Caribbean that I prepared for their membership.
Week 2-3: MEXICO! That’s right readers…despite the terrifying headlines coming out of this country in recent times (and threats from my father that he was so perturbed/displeased by my decision to vacation there that I should expect that if I get “kidnapped I’m leaving you there!”) I set off from Denver on December 9th to head to Mexico City, where I would embark on a two week trip that would see me end up in Cancun International Airport on Christmas Eve, just in time to fly home to The Bahamas for some festive turkey. My travel companion and I spent 4 days in Mexico City, 3 days in Oaxaca, 3 days in San Christobal de Las Casas and Palenque (Chiapas state) before heading over to Tulum, just south of Cancun, for 3 days on the beach. Incredibly, we arrived in Tulum and one of the most famous Mayan ruins sites, on cliffs overhanging a white sand beach and turquoise waters, on the eve of the one year anniversary of the 2012 apocalypse predicted by the Mayans. What this means I am not sure…but we’ll find out on December 21, 2012! As for Mexico as a whole, I had a fantastic time…the frightening news headlines reflected nothing of what I experienced in this very friendly, very non-intimidating, culturally rich country. Although I did sense that the Drug Cartels have succeeded in dampening tourism, as in many major touristic sites (Mayan pyramids of Teotihuacan, Monte Alban and Palenque in particular) there was a very surprising dearth of Gringos (aka non-Mexican tourists), I felt extremely safe at all times. This may well be because I was in the south, where the Cartel activity has not spread to date, but I think it also speaks to the need to look behind the headlines when it comes to making travel choices. I would hate to think that the whole country suffers economically more than is necessary from the selfish activities of criminals. I also think that what is happening in Mexico, which has escalated since 2006, with the deaths of over 40,000 people, is further clear evidence of the need for countries (primarily the US) to change their laws/policies regarding drug use and sales before more people die needlessly (steps down off Soapbox…).
The only downside was the vicious Mexican stomach bug I contracted after drinking some local water in Oaxaca. Yes, yes, I know… Don’t Drink The Water. But I plead innocence on this one because it came from a water cooler in my hostel that somehow said to me there was no way the five gallon water bottle it contained could have been filled by hand from a nearby tap. Oh yes, it was. 4 days later, I realised the bug had no intentions of abandoning me, so I visited a local doctor and for a grand total of $2.50 was prescribed some antibiotics. Half a day later, the world was right again…thank god for modern medicine. Mexico as a whole was a super cheap destination, which I would recommend to anyone from Korbel who might be interested in boosting their Spanish skills in order to meet that language proficiency requirement (or who just wants a stimulating vacation). The peso has declined in value by 20% this year, and it is quite possible to sleep in reasonable accommodation for about $8 a night (our average expenditure) and eat all the delicious tacos you want for no more than $3-4 a pop…until you get to Tulum/Cancun, when prices get jacked up about 80%! Still, it is possible to live well for a reasonable price. Si, se puede!
Week 4: Christmas in The Bahamas. Back to the homestead for Christmas- yes Winter in The Bahamas is still my favourite time. The weather is perfect (cool breeze, lower humidity, sun still shining) and the parties are endless on the tiny island of Nassau, where my family is from. Great to catch up with relatives and friends as I have a feeling my schedule of classes and internships will not allow me to visit for a good while in 2012…
Speaking of 2012 and internships, I have now secured a new position at the World Trade Center, Denver, which I am very excited about. Similar to the Chamber of the Americas, where I was before, the WTC promotes and facilitates international trade through working to educate and inform the Colorado business community on opportunities and obstacles on the path to successful importing and exporting. I actually did the interview for this position via an internet cafe in Oaxaca, Mexico, which was very cool, and was extremely pleased to hear they wanted to add me to their team come next week. Besides being a great resource for Colorado businesses, the WTC is one of the best places a student at Korbel, and in particular, in the Global Finance, Trade and Economic Integration Masters program that I am in, can intern in Denver during their time at the School. It provides a chance to see some of the trade issues we work on in a more theoretical sense in action at a practical level. More on this once I get started!
Meanwhile, I am continuing to apply for internships for the Summer period. Only one internship is actually required during our time at Korbel, in terms of meeting the program requirements, but I want to make the most out of the time I have to gain experience which I hope will serve me well when I look for jobs come graduation in June 2013. My top choices are the World Bank, the UN, the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Economic Forum. Fingers crossed!
Over and Out.