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“Why don't you guys have air conditioning?!” - Mexican Students Talk about Their Stay at F+U Academy of Languages


Esteban, José, Juan and Daniela are part of a group of 16 to 18-year-old high-school students who for one month have exchanged their school in Monterrey, Mexico, for F+U Academy of Languages in Heidelberg to study German. In a short interview last week, they took the time to talk about their stay and experiences in Heidelberg, and, most importantly, about cultural differences between Mexico and Germany.

All of them have studied German for a number of years in high school, where it is offered as an elective course, and have acquired a good A2 to B1 level. They all hope that the language will open study and career opportunities for them in the future. Esteban, José and Juan want to enroll in technical courses at universities in Germany after graduating from high-school – engineering, mechanical engineering, or “something with automobiles,” as Juan says.

Daniela has been studying German since 4th grade and plans to study law in Mexico. As she wants to specialize in international law, foreign languages come in handy – after finishing German, she will start learning French. “The more languages, the better,” she says.

Apart from studying German, they continue with their regular Mexican curriculum in the afternoon. This also includes a science class which serves as a preparation for university studies. Their programme is complemented by an extensive activities programme on the weekends, which includes trips to nearby cities such as Frankfurt, Trier or Stuttgart, or neighbouring countries such as Luxembourg. Daniela, who has a vivid interest in history, was especially impressed by 2,000-year-old Trier: “I liked how you can read a city's history out of its buildings, like the cathedral, where so many dynasties have left their traces. It's history in stone.”

Their travelling programme will be complete with a trip to Munich and a three-day stay in Berlin.

All four students enjoy their classrooms and modern accommodation in the new Campus hall of residence and the amenities of the city of Heidelberg.

Daniela feels that Heidelberg is clean and safe to walk around, to take walks and enjoy the greenery around the old town. “One day, I and a friend actually lost our way because we took the wrong train and ended up in some suburb. But it wasn't much of a problem – we just sat down in a café and asked someone for the way back.”

Public transport is in fact something that many foreign students like to use in Germany. “Public transport in Mexico is inefficient and unsafe,” says Juan, “but here, in Germany, it's something that people place importance on. Things work here.”

As far as differences in mentality goes, the students feel that Germans are more reserved and much quieter than Latinos, but the one thing that they seem to miss the most in Germany is air conditioning. Due to Germany's rather temperate climate, many public places do not have air conditioning, including some of the classrooms. As the Mexican students are used to constantly cooled rooms, they may feel hot, even though temperatures rarely reach Mexican levels. “Why don't you guys have air conditioning?!” is something that was often asked, but we hope is made up for by their otherwise nice and exciting stay!

The German language programme for Mexican high-school students is part of a cooperative project between F+U Academy of Languages and Mexican education provider Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, who sends two groups to Heidelberg each year. This year’s first group stayed with us from January through May – read our report here!

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