So, it is now time to catch our readers up on last week! (Sorry, we are a little behind!) I had the orientation sessions for my Fulbright grant last week Tuesday-Friday. I had a great time and got to meet a lot of wonderful people but man, we were both really tired by the end of the week! On Tuesday night, we trekked over to the hotel where everyone was staying for a meet-and-greet reception. Now, we also had the option to stay at the hotel and in retrospect, I wish that we had. When I looked up the address to see how far it was from us, it looked like it would be easy to get to and like it would be better for us to stay home since we have the cats to take care of too. Well the D.F. is quite deceptive that way! We ended up having to take the Metro two stops over and then switching to the Metrobus for a 45 min. ride. It was long but the good thing was that we now understand how the Metrobus works–live and learn.
Anyway on Wednesday, we met everyone at the hotel and were bussed over to UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) where the day’s activities were to be held. We had more introduction time and some sessions on Mexico’s history and U.S./Mexico relations. These things were all very interesting but the whole thing was in Spanish and, although my Spanish comprehension is already light years ahead of where it was when we got here, it’s still difficult sometimes to understand people if they speak quickly and/or mumble and it so happened that some people did in the morning sessions. Nevertheless, the parts that I got of it were very interesting and having powerpoint presentations to go along with the lectures helped immensely! After the morning sessions, we ate at a café on UNAM’s campus and then took a brief tour of the university. I say brief because UNAM is HUGE! Many of the buildings have murals associated with them that have a special significance to México.
The stadium at UNAM, which we also toured, was built for the 1968 Olympic games.
On Wednesday evening, the U.S. Embassy hosted a reception for the Fulbright grantees. It was very nice–lots of wine, haha! Unfortunately, no cameras were allowed so I was not able to take pictures.
Thursday began again at UNAM and I really enjoyed the morning sessions. A couple of people associated with the U.S. Embassy came and told us about opportunities that we have to work with them and resources that they have available for us and those with whom we might be working during the course of our grant period. Then, author and journalist David Lida talked to us about life in Mexico City. He is the author of a book about Mexico City, which we promptly bought after his talk. He was funny, enlightening, and very helpful.
After Lida spoke, we heard about grant experiences from former Fulbright grantees, which was interesting and reassuring. It’s nice to hear crazy stories from others that have been through this experience and to know that they survived and that it was well worth it!
After lunch Wednesday, we toured Ex-Convento del Carmen. It is an ex-convent (obviously) that has now been turned into a museum. It’s extremely old and very beautiful.
Finally, we visited mummies that were in the church! I really couldn’t resist taking a picture.
Thursday night was a dinner at the hotel for the Fulbright Garcia-Roblés grantees (there are different kinds of Fulbright grants, but this is the type that I have), Fulbright grantees that are going to the U.S. from Mexico, and former grantees that did their grants in the U.S. They tried to sit us at tables with people who are in our same professions, so I met a very nice violinist who offered help in any way while I’m here, as well as free tickets to his orchestra’s concerts 🙂
Friday was the final day of orientation and we spent it sightseeing. We toured the Palacio Nacional and then broke off to do our own thing. Jeff and I went on a tour of Templo Mayor, ancient ruins right in the historic center of the city, with some other people.
All in all, it was a great week and we really enjoyed seeing more of the city and getting to know some new people!