From Albuquerque with love
I’m spending four months of my life attending the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. I realize — with Canada being attached to the United States — it seems a little less exciting than going to Europe, Thailand or somewhere more exotic.
Albuquerque is known for its love of green chillies, being the filming location of the supremely excellent show Breaking Bad and having one of the worst university football teams in the country (which really makes me feel at home — it’s almost like being at an utterly disappointing Flames game).
So, here I am, suddenly a minor again, cuddling up to the Mexican border. I’m probably more out of my element then I’ve ever been, and you know what? It’s a pretty cool feeling.
There are, however, a few things about International Exchange I’ve had to come to terms with:
1. Prepare to miss your car every time someone makes a scene on the bus.
In my case, an aggravated middle-aged man took his shirt off to show a scar he got from being stabbed. Despite everyone’s best efforts, it was hard to ignore. The bus driver pulled over and waited for the cops to force the man off the bus and arrest him.
I longed for my little Pontiac G5.
2. If you’re a young female in a country with a high Spanish population, get ready to be whistled at. A lot. Every day. Every single day.
3. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a vacation.
If you’re single, be cautious with the getaway mind-set. You may see the same people for three and a half months. Do you ever really want to see your vacation hook-ups again? Didn’t think so.
This same vacation-frame-of-mind still applies to those attached to a significant other. Just because you aren’t hooking up, it doesn’t mean you won’t drunkenly do things that will make it hard to look people in the eye for the rest of the semester.
4. While waiting to find a place, don’t be surprised when the cheapest hotel turns out to be pretty shady.
I did meet some people who were going door-to-door giving out bagged lunches that had “God Loves You!” scrawled across them. Most hotel residents were apparently too strung out to remember to eat.
Really though, who can complain about a free lunch?
5. Cheap rent comes with a price.
If the rent is dirt-cheap there’s a good chance you’re moving into a pretty ghetto, crime-infested neighbourhood. A man was shot 17 times and died across the street from my house about a month before I moved in.
But man, I’m saving a lot of money on rent.
Just don’t tell my mom.