I spent my semester abroad at the Universidad Regiomontana (or UR according to answerresume) in Monterrey, Mexico. The study visit lasted for one trimester from the end of August to mid-December. At the end of my studies, my motivation was to learn the Spanish language and to study another focus for the duration of the semester abroad.
As a free mover, I planned the stay abroad for the most part myself. The placement and allocation of the study place was carried out by MicroEDU GmbH. This company helps students who go abroad as free movers to contact various universities from the company’s portfolio free of charge and then also to plan stays abroad. A lot of useful information such as expected curricula were thus made available and the whole planning was made much easier.
The International Office of Universidad Regiomontana is also very easy and inconvenient to reach, probably also through a German management, and is ready to help with the stay abroad, from finding accommodation to visa issues. For this reason, I was able to do without help from my home university entirely.
The arrival was also very well organized. You were picked up from the airport by a Universidad Regiomontana driver and driven to your appropriate accommodation. I had not yet started looking for an apartment from Germany, as former exchange students advised me to do so on site so that I could visit the residential complexes. However, since the student residences, which are occupied by students from all universities in Monterrey, were already fully occupied, a furnished apartment had to be found.
U-ERRE assigned a buddy to each exchange student who was available for any questions in the first few weeks and was part of the global crew at Universidad Regiomontana. My buddy also immediately helped me to find accommodation, drove me to the sightseeing and clarified all important questions due to my initially broken Spanish. The quality of the accommodations in Monterrey is in my opinion European standards. I shared a furnished two-room apartment with another exchange student from Germany, which was very modern.
In the first days of our arrival there were also two welcome events. The first was for all new students at Universidad Regiomontana. The second introductory event was aimed at the exchange students and clarified all important questions. There was an overview of the courses actually offered in English, a round of introductions from those responsible, the global crew and exchange students, as well as a tour of the campus, which is pretty much in the city center of Monterrey. The integration at U-ERRE went flawlessly thanks to the support of the Global Crew and the buddies, and in general the Mexicans who attended the same courses were always interested, friendly and helpful.
The infrastructure at Universidad Regiomontana was also good. A library, a sports studio and a cafeteria are located on the three-part campus and several restaurants nearby. All teaching materials were made available online on Universidad Regiomontana’s “Blackboard” platform. This platform was also used to communicate with the professors and to upload drafts. In Mexico there is a general obligation to attend class and you can only have a certain number of absent hours in order to pass the course. You also had to work on projects or homework every week in each subject, which then had to be uploaded by a certain deadline. However, the professors were very lenient, especially with the exchange students, and if you agreed you could often stay away from classes as soon as you handed in your homework on time.
The general language of instruction at Universidad Regiomontana is Spanish and most courses are offered in this language. However, there are a handful of courses in each trimester that are also offered in English for the exchange students and interested Mexicans. Before going abroad, I attended the Spanish I language course at my home university for one semester. In Mexico itself, the final course selection was made and I decided on two courses in Spanish and two English courses. Accordingly, I have a Spanish language course and the Mexican Culture and History course. Because all professors and students at Universidad Regiomontana speak very good English, one has seldom practiced Spanish outside of the Spanish-language courses. Nonetheless, and above all through contacts outside the university, I was able to greatly improve my previously barely existing knowledge of Spanish.
Cost of living
The cost of living in Monterrey can be compared to those in Germany and is by no means as cheap as one would roughly expect. We paid 12,000 pesos per month for the aforementioned furnished two-room apartment in a relatively central location, which is the equivalent of around 550 euros. Compared to the rooms of other students, we were in the upper average, but we also had a very modern apartment.
Spending on groceries was a little cheaper than in Germany and the Universidad Regiomontana cafeteria and the surrounding restaurants also had good dishes at comparatively cheaper prices. The extra expenses one had in the semester abroad therefore related to other activities outside of school time, be it in the city itself or through trips to other parts of Mexico. We managed to see a lot of Mexico during the semester through extended weekend trips and quite cheap domestic flights. A week in Cuba could also be set up during the semester.
Life in the metropolis of Monterrey never got boring during this time. There are several universities, of which Universidad Regiomontana is still the smallest. Accordingly, there were a large number of exchange students in the city, whom you got to know mainly through parties organized by “ISE” (“International Student Embassy”). This is an organization founded by former students, which wants to bring the exchange students closer to the Mexican way of life, organizes parties and get-togethers as well as weekend trips. ISE is also happy to help with the search for an apartment and can be easily reached on the Facebook page.
I lived in Monterrey in the La Florida district, which is close to the Tec de Monterrey, the largest university in Mexico. The student residences “Villas Tec” and “Torres Tec” are also located here, and a large number of students live in this area. The Universidad Regiomontana is located in the city center and can be easily reached from here by Uber or public buses. We always celebrated in San Pedro, a very modern, somewhat distant part of the city. But also in the actual center, the “Barrio Antiguo”, some bars are open on weekends.
As a free mover in Mexico, I had to pay tuition fees at Universidad Regiomontana. The amount of the tuition fees depends on the number of courses selected. The Spanish course and Mexican culture and history are offered free of charge for the exchange students. For the rest of my courses, I had to pay around 18,000 Mexican pesos, or around 780 euros. Because I came to U-ERRE through MicroEDU , this price has already been discounted by 40 percent. Normally the tuition fees at this private university would have been even higher.
I spent around 600-900 euros per month in Mexico on many weekend trips. I financed the whole thing on the one hand through a PROMOS travel allowance from the DAAD, which, in addition to the flight, also covered the semester fees and some living costs, and through the Germany Scholarship.
Mexico in particular is characterized by a lot of negative news. However, I did not have a negative experience during the trimester or during my subsequent trip, nor did I meet a person who experienced anything negative. Much is definitely oversized and some actually only refers to certain regions or is part of a gang war that only takes place within these gangs and does not affect tourists or foreigners. Surely you were particularly careful in the beginning and never used the public transport network, for example. In the end, however, I always took public buses and nothing ever happened to me.
For me, my time in Mexico was an incomparable personal time. The Mexican lifestyle combined with life in the third largest city in Mexico was incredibly interesting for me and a very welcome change. I can only advise other interested parties to take the plunge.