Monday, August 31, 2009

Welcome Back

Hey, I know it's been a few weeks, but had I updated a week ago, it probably would've been really lame, so here we go. Things have been getting slowly better here, I'm meeting more people and getting busier, so that's definitely a good thing. This Friday my friend Adam Glassberg is coming to visit, we'll be celebrating Labor Day weekend here in Mexico City. I'm definitely hoping he's up for going to Six Flags ... we shall see.

This past weekend was pretty nice. Thursday I went again to my favorite restaurant here in DF, Oro y Azul. It's on the insanely huge UNAM campus and serves authentic Mexican dishes gourmet style for very low prices. After class on Thursday nights, many students in my program go to a bar near campus, Toros y Burros. I busted out some sick moves on the dance floor. Of course, me and my mexican amiga Ale got into a fight with the Viene Vienes. These have to be some of the worst people on Earth. They stand in the street and try to act as valets for street parking. They are all over Mexico, and if you don't pay them their extortion, it's very common for them to scratch your car, etc. Of course the lazy and corrupt police do nothing to stop their illegal jobs. Such is Mexico. Ale is in all my classes and we only speak in English together, in class she's my translator when I need it (in a way, I guess I'm a special needs student here).

I'm becoming better friends with the 5 other people in my house, and there's other exchange students that live in a house right by mine, so a bunch of us went to a party around here Friday night (after my customary Friday night in Mexico / Saturday afternoon in Korea Skype chat with my NPU golfing buddy Jon Holt in Korea).

I spent most of Saturday translating a paper from Spanish to English for my advisor. Extremely easy, but also extremely boring (he is a nice guy though). Saturday night I went to a BBQ to welcome the new Fulbright Scholars to Mexico City. The party was in the Roma colonia, north in the city, fairly close to the previously mentioned Condesa, the best area in town for nightlife. I saw my fellow North Parker Riley Clark there, he just moved here and is living in that neighborhood. For the next year, as part of the Fulbright program, he'll be working at a conservation agency in DF. I also met a cool guy named Kendall, he's part of the program, from Duke and is very proud of Duke being named the no. 2 douchiest college in America (they would be number one but GQ didn't feel it's right to name Duke number one in anything). I'm planning on spending the next year trying to convince him to not go back to America to work for a consulting firm where he has a job waiting (I don't miss Accenture one bit).

Sunday was relaxing as normal. I went to Union Church, the English speaking church I've been going to for a few weeks. It's a mix of Americans, Jamaicans, workers from the African embassies, and many Mexicans. It's in a beautiful (and rich) neighborhood, in the central-west part of town, Lomas de Chapultepec, and the church has been an English church there since the 1870s. There's about 100 people there evey week and they've been very nice. Sunday night I went and saw Bandslam a movie I'm guessing many people haven't heard of. It's a high school comedy, a group of kids form a band to enter a competition; very similar to a 1980s John Cusack and definitely good. When I got into the theatre, I was the only one there, but another American soon entered. Frank was his name. Frank is from Michigan. Frank works at the Embassy. Frank has worked for the State Department in many parts of Latin America. Frank enjoyed the movie like I did. Frank gave me his card in case I ever need anything from the embassy. Frank is a very nice guy.

This is lining up to be another normal week, classes at night. I'm still looking for some type of job to do during the day, I've been talking with a few people and been applying some places, so I'm sure something good will come soon.

If you want a good idea of Mexico City life, I definitely recommend reading David Lida's blog. He is an American journalist that has been here for about 20 years, and his blog does a really good job capturing some funny and interesting parts of living here in DF.

A good local paper (in Spanish) to read is El Universal. The town also has an English-language daily I recommend, The News. Check me out at

I miss everyone back in the US and I hope you're doing well.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Raining Again ...

The evening rainstorms have just stomped again. Pretty amazing in the summer here, sunny and 72 all day til around 6-8, rain for about 30-45 minutes, and then clear at night.

I'm sure most of you read my article in the Naperville Sun, but the link is below in case you haven't.,6_2_NA14_SOCCER_S1-090814.article

The Mexico-U.S. game was amazing to be at, though the Mexican fans did act like ass-clowns at times (i.e. the entire pre-game, during the game, and after the game). For all the recent criticism about the Cubs fan throwing the beer from the bleachers, not a peep was raised aqui about all the times that American players got hordes of debris thrown at them when they were doing corner kicks. Nor was the complete lack of class of Mexicans mentioned when referring to how they blew horns during our entire national anthem. SI writer Grant Wahl felt the same when wondering why some dipshit felt the need to pour a beer on his laptop. Our section of Americans had beer (more likely cups of piss) thrown at us the entire game, and the security surrounding us didn't attempt to throw out any fans for acting like pendejos.

All the Mexicans I've talked to say the people that go to the game are crazy. But none of the national media here that I've seen was critical of the fans' behavior. It's rather hard at times to respect a people when you see so many of them act like I did at Azteca.

That being said, the Mexican team thoroughly played better on Wednesday. They controlled the ball much better than we did. Americans, as usual, need to improve their footwork and first touches. I think our defenders played especially well considering how much Mexico controlled the ball. That being said, the US almost came away with a tie. The altitude and noise of Azteca make it extremely difficult to play in (El Tri has only lost one World Cup qualifier there ever), so let's hope the US gets back to form in early September for their next WC qualifier in Utah.

Otherwise, things are going fairly well here, still not many close friends, but I realize those friendships take time to develop. I am meeting a lot of really nice people, especially at my program. The classes are all at night but the people are really social and really cool; there's a solid mix of fellow extranjeros as well. I still don't have a ton to do, especially on the weekends, so hopefully that changes soon. Given how little I have to do during the day, I'm still full into the search for some sort of job to do during the day, most likely some teaching related position.

Here's to hoping I've finally beaten down Moctezuma in our 5-day battle.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

School's Out For Summer! ... til tomorrow

Hello, world. My first day of classes is tomorrow at Tec de Monterrey, starting on my Master's in Economics and Public Policy. I'll be in 4 classes this semester and they're all from Monday-Thursday night from 7-10pm. During the mornings I'll be helping out the professors w/ research.

So far, I guess I'm neutral on being here. I've met some cool people and had some fun nights out. The people here have been really friendly (drivers not withstanding, who are all major-league assholes). And I really think I'll like my classes and doing the research. Like I've mentioned before, I think my biggest problem so far is living in the part of the city that I live in, Xochimilco (one of Mexico City's 16 boroughs). I live here because it's within walking distance of the university, but I definitely might move somewhere north once I have my car after Christmas. It's really far south, and all the fun places to hang out are really far north (it's a 30 minute taxi ride even without traffic). There's nothing especially historic / interesting in my neighborhood, just kinda random suburban sprawl; it doesn't really feel like I'm even in Mexico City. If I had to live anywhere, it'd be in Condesa or Polanco, two cool neighborhoods up north. I had to go to the U.S. Embassy Friday and it was nice to be in a part of town that actually felt like historic Mexico City. The embassy is near the city's biggest park, Bosque de Chapultepec and its most famous statute, El Angel, southwest of the city's historic zone.

Overall, I can't say I'm a huge fan of Mexico City yet, hopefully it'll come. The weather is pretty amazing year-round (low 70s), but the extreme sprawl of the city makes it feel kind of lame, especially considering that I'm at the far outskirts of the sprawl. Interesting how my opinion of the city is definitely based on where I live .... though I think many Lincoln Parkers would feel the same way about Chicago if they were forced to live in Morgan Park without a car. In terms of high-rises, there really is no clear downtown at all the way there is in Chicago for example. The newest area of building is Santa Fe, an upscale business district west of the city where it seems like every building is less than 10 years old. The public transportation in the city is good, but due to the huge size of the city (I've read it's between 30-40 miles north to south and approximately 20 miles east-west) it can take nearly 2 hours on public transport to get from one part of the city to another. Traffic can be terrible, taking a couple hours to drive north south during rush hour, and traffic can stay bad until 9 at night. I haven't noticed the pollution, nor have I really noticed being 7,000 feet above sea level.

Wednesday afternoon, I'm going to a World Cup qualifying game between Mexico and the U.S at the 105,000 person Estadio Azteca. The World Cup is in South Africa next summer, and while the United States is in good position to qualify, it is far from certain that Mexico will qualify. I'm very excited about going to this game. The U.S. has never won in Mexico, so a victory would be a great way to cement a solid summer for the Yankees. The game is at 3pm Chicago time, check your local Spanish channels (and probably Fox Soccer Channel), it'll be there somewhere.

I can't say I'm totally happy now, but I'm certainly glad I moved here since this was something I had on my mind for a couple years. We'll see how it goes.
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