STUDY ABROAD: Queen Mary University film studies student talks about his year studying in Mexico!
I originally applied to study Film Studies at university with a deferred entry. After I finished my A-Levels and secured my place I travelled around Latin America; learning Spanish, volunteering and travelling. This was an amazing experience where I saw a whole new way of life from living on a beach collecting sea turtle eggs to going on a five day trek through the Andes to see one of the wonders of the world. It was amazing meeting all these new people and seeing incredible things along the way and is a great way to broaden your perspective.
Because I had such a wonderful time and was really getting to grips with the Spanish language I changed my degree to joint honours. So instead of just studying Film I would now be studying Hispanic Studies and Film Studies. This switch was very easy to do and allowed me to have my third year abroad in a Spanish-speaking country.
For my third year I chose to study Film in Mexico. I figured that because everything would be taught in Spanish I didn’t need to study the language formally as well so I studied Film at a Mexican university. At first this was very challenging and it was tiring trying to concentrate academically in another language but after a couple of months it got much easier. I also lived with a Mexican family which really helped with the learning process – lots of my English friends who also studied in Mexico for the year lived with other English speakers and as a result their Spanish didn’t improve as much.
I ended up directing two short films whilst living in Mexico. It was funny at first trying to direct with lots of gestures and a limited vocabulary and it gave me an incentive to learn quickly! Theoretically it was very interesting and I learnt a whole different perspective about cinema and valued the Latin approach to filmmaking which differs greatly from European and American filmmaking. It allowed me to broaden my perspective and think about the construction and analysis of film in more original ways.
I travelled a lot whilst living in Mexico and went away to different towns or beaches at the weekends. I normally went away with friends I had met through university, or friends of the people I was staying with or other English friends I had met that were also studying there for the year. I did some amazing things like snorkel with a whale shark (which is the world’s biggest fish!), saw humpback whales, went to full-capacity football matches, took part in huge carnival processions with bulls and learnt how to surf. It was really fun and we also went out on lots of nights out where I learned how to salsa.
Living somewhere completely different to what you’re used to is a great experience and having a year abroad is one of the best things I could recommend. I think the best way to do it is to go somewhere that has a different culture you are also interested in and try and immerse yourself within it by living with locals and learning from them. I would never have had the opportunity if I didn’t try and modify my degree and so it always pays to try new things out, be ambitious and most of all adventurous!
By Matthew Kay, Queen Mary, University of London Hispanic Studies and Film Studies graduate.
Find out more about: Matthew Kay
Check out the course here: Hispanic Studies and Film Studies
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