Mexico welcomed me with rather cool weather – compared to Poland at that time – and Dr. Ramiro Velázquez, who was waiting for me at the Aguascalientes airport. I was especially gracious for that, especially after almost two days of traveling.
I arrived on a Sunday, so I had one day to rest and overcome jet lag caused by the 7 hour time difference; I started teaching on Monday. During my stay I was really well taken care of in terms of transportation, food, lodging, and cultural trips. Universidad Panamericana made sure that I visited the city center and surrounding areas, like a guayaba plantation and other colorful towns. I have learned that Aguascalientes has a lot to offer in the culinary and touristic dimensions. It is advertised as the geographical center of Mexico; there is even a monument dedicated to that. There are many galleries, sacred buildings, and historical sites, along with a wide variety of flavorful dishes that Mexico is famous for. Limes are a dominating flavor and seem to be an addition to almost all food and beverages. It is hard to come back without gaining weight considering all the goodies served in a charming, friendly atmosphere. Not only the University’s employees and students, but also the various people I met throughout my trip were very friendly. However, communicating in English was challenging after leaving the University. Transportation is easy in the cities since most of them have app-based taxi companies known also in Poland. For traveling longer distances, there is a wonderful bus system with a comfort level unseen in Poland, let alone around Europe.
The University is beautiful, spacious and maintained with great love and care. One can see this within the buildings and grounds, but above all in the employees’ actions. One can instantly tell that it is an elite university based on personalistic values. I want to express my gratitude to the whole staff that assisted me, especially the International Affairs Department with my coming -Vanessa de Alba, Paulina Talamantes Chávez, Claudia Lara Luevano and the guardian angel during the stay, Stephanie Agatha Tomek. My stomach and taste buds say thank you to Chef Tomás Calabrese and his crew, who introduced us to the culinary dimensions of the University.
Students attended classes with great respect and, most of them, punctually. The latter was above average, since the meaning of “being on time” is perceived slightly different than, let us say, in Poland. Fortunately, in my case, we agreed and executed the punctuality definition as found in standard dictionaries. Participants were very active and attentive. And according to their comments they enjoyed the classes as well. The students spontaneously organized some sightseeing and assisted me in a harsh time when my phone broke (special thanks to Santiago Vasques, who organized repairs).
During my stay I met a lot of fellow professors, who came from different parts of the world. Some from Europe, some from South America. This allowed networking, meetings, exchange of ideas and hopefully, new exchanges among students and professors.
To summarize the trip, it was as fruitful as it was enjoyable. For those that enjoy sightseeing, Mexico has a huge field for exploration, although some guidance and knowledge of Spanish is advised. For those who are not adventurous, there are flights directly to Aguascalientes and the University assists every step of the way – before, during, and follow up after the official trip has been completed. While the trips, food and architecture are important, the most important are the people you meet. I encourage professors and students alike to develop professional relationships that naturally turn into friendships. These relationships build lasting memories and boost facilitation for further cooperation.