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Dispatches From Mexico City: Reflecting On Two Years

This morning Facebook reminded me that two years ago today we received the keys for our first apartment in Mexico City.

Time flies.

And it’s been a winding journey that at various times has involved telenovela red carpets, immigration headaches, road trips through the mountains, getting detained at the airport and sent back to Canada (long story), and new friends. It seems like a good time to reflect. So, with that in mind, here are the top five things I’ve learned since moving to Mexico.

1. Everyone is the same
There may be cultural differences, but past that everyone is basically the same inside. We all have the same needs and fears. Most people are generally good and will help you if they can.
The other day I had to carry my instruments and a PA system to an Uber that had parked two blocks away for some reason. Random strangers helped me take my gear all the way to the car.
There are random acts of kindness everywhere in the world that don’t get reported on or passed around social media. That can have a negative impact on how people view a place. Which leads me nicely to my next point…

2. Don’t believe everything you read
No doubt, there are some bad places in this country that you should avoid if you want to feel safe. But don’t disparage all of Mexico because one city has a particularly high crime rate. Do your research beforehand and be safe, but don’t let fear stop you from learning about a different and amazing culture.

Besides, as I told anyone who warned me before moving to Mexico, the odds are on your side. According to WHO, about 5.8 million people die from injuries a year, that includes war and homicide, which account for 14 percent of death related to injuries. That works out to around 812 thousand out of the 7.5 billion people on earth. So, the odds are pretty great that you’re going to be just fine. (Though, that fact didn’t seem to console my mother.)

3. Try and experience new things
Did you know grasshoppers are delicious? I had no idea. But they really are. Since moving here, I’ve been on national television, challenged my fear of heights, and seen a handful of the many natural wonders this country has to offer. All of that was because I put myself out there.

There are countless benefits to challenging yourself and stepping outside your comfort zone. Traveling to a new country is a great way to test your mettle and see what you’re made of.

4. Learning a new language is great
Mi español es malo, pero estoy aprendiendo y mejorando, poco a poco.

When we got here, I knew three words in Spanish: hola, gracias, and cerveza. While those three words certainly served me well in those early edgy days here, it wasn’t until I started diving into the language that I really began to see the benefits.

You begin to think differently. According to this article, speaking a second language may actually change how you see the world. That has certainly been my experience. The vocabulary you use to experience and engage with the world grows in subtle but meaningful ways, it exposes you to different cultures and ideas as you interact with more people, and you have more fun at parties. My only regret is that I didn’t start learning a second language when I was younger.

5. Don’t sweat the small stuff

My Canadianism is a joke amongst my Mexican friends. Not because of my accent or my weakness for maple syrup, but because I’m so punctual. Even when I plan on being late for an event I still manage to arrive early. For a long time, the tardiness of my friends here really bothered me (and sometimes it still does, to be sure). But in a city of 21 million people, where most people own cars, and a little rain can slow everything down, being late is just a way of life.

Getting over my penchant for punctuality and learning to laugh off others’ lateness has given me peace of mind. It’s taught me that we can’t always control the things around us, and when we can’t we have no choice but to accept them. When you’re traveling, or when you move to a new country, that bit of knowledge will prevent you from going crazy. Things move at different paces in different places and most of the time it’s easier to go with the flow.

I’ve learned a lot more in my time here. For example, I know where all the best vegan restaurants are, where to find good music on a Wednesday night, and where to get the best micheladas in the city. But those five lessons I think can serve you pretty well wherever you are in the world.

Ty Trumbull, from his base in Mexico City, covers the entrepreneur’s journey and business continuity for ChannelE2E. Each Tuesday, he offers views about his adopted hometown.

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