Working in Mexico
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Aug 21, 2013 11:19 AM Last Post By: mclarjh
Mar 1, 2013 9:50 AM
Working in MexicoHi!
I'm considering applying for a job at the Universidad de la Sierra Sur in Miahuatlan de Porfirio Diaz. I've been to Oaxaca before, but not to this town. Would anyone recommend the town and/or University if you have lived or been there before?
Also, anyone know how realistic it is to get teaching work at Universities in Mexico from overseas?
Mar 1, 2013 1:15 PM
1I visited Miahuatlan (about halfway between Oaxaca city and Pochutla) recently. It's located in a broad valley with distant mountains. While I was there I walked to the university campus you mention, but the guard wouldn't let me walk around the campus itself without permission from the staff. The university is small, and relatively remote from the town, accessible by occasional bus (or private car). I would describe the town as ordinary, the central square was congested with vendors, as it was market day when I visited, and there was a small market for farm animals at the north end of town. There was also an army encampment just across the river from the centro, very tiday looking, again I wasn't allowed to walk around. None of the churches I saw were remarkable, and I saw no museums, but if you're interested in hiking, some of the highest mountains in Oaxaca are not far away.
Mar 1, 2013 5:49 PM
2I've known people who have taught English in Miahuatlan. Main complaint is lack of things to do, i.e. museums, concerts, cultural evens in general. There is a HUGE staff of folks teaching Englihs, almost 20, I believe, and I think there are several "communities" within the staff; parties, gatherings, etc. When people on this forum talk about "real Mexico," I think Miahuatlan comes close to what they mean. YOu won't find many tourists. The local folks may seem unfriendly/distant but this may be shyness. When I was taking a photo of the mural in the govt. building, a staffer came out of his office and offered to take a photo of me in front of the mural !!! I doubt that this would ever happen in Oaxaca City! In fact, it hasn't to me in the more than a decade that I've lived here.
The city is only a two-hour bus ride, so is an excellent weekend getaway. And Mclarjh is right...you are in the foothills, so the mountains also make good weekend getaways.
Mar 3, 2013 12:29 PM
3Thanks for the information! It's good to get a better idea of what the place is like...I can't seem to find much info online about this place at all. I've lived in a few different countries now, so feel I can adjust fairly easily, and am craving something a bit more rural! I have lived in cities for years now though, so would def need something to do on weekends. Do you know if it's realistic to get to Oaxaca city, or to beach towns most weekends? I know places aren't that far, but is transport frequent/direct?
Geriande - you said you've met people who have taught there. Is this at the same university, or at other schools there? Do you have any idea if the age group of most of the teachers? Also, how easy/hard did they find it to integrate? It sounds reasonably sociable with staff, but do you know if teachers often make friends with locals there, and close enough to hang out together (rather than just acquaintances)?
Thanks for your help guys - a lot more info than I expected! Feel like I wouldn't be applying as blindly now! It's easier to move to another country when you're moving to a city, but this is a bit scarier - and more exciting too! :)
Mar 4, 2013 7:16 AM
4Do you know if it's realistic to get to Oaxaca city, or to beach towns most weekends? I know places aren't that far, but is transport frequent/direct?
I believe there are three colectivo or van services provinding frequent (hourly) transportation to either Oaxaca city, or Pochutla (near the beach); approx 80 MXN each way. The vans will stop to let passengers on and off on demand, it isn't a first-class service, but it is well suited to the needs of the communities along the route.
Mar 4, 2013 7:21 AM
5I keep mulling over your question about age of the teachers. I have lived in Oaxaca so long that age isn't all that relevant. Mexicans don't look at age the same way as the U.S. and Canada. They revere the "abuelitos/os" and gatherings include folks of all ages. Also, the "older" foreigners who live here are, necessarily, agile, healthy and vibrant, almost up to the very end. What ages do you WANT the teachers to be? I think turnover is high, one year commitments are common, so if the age group isn't "compatible" with you, wait awhile. I know someone over 70 who teaches English and some almost 90 (in the city) who teaches English, on a volunteer basis, with amazing results.
Mar 8, 2013 1:55 AM
6Sorry for the late reply - had long days at work this week!
Mclarjh - thanks for the info on transportation. That's more frequent than I expected, so good to hear!
Geriande - thanks for the reply. I've also been mulling over your question. I like to have friends of different age groups, my closest friends range from early 20s to late 50s. The majority of those are from late 20s to late 30s, and although I enjoy my time equally and can talk as openly with each of these friends, it would still be a preference for me to have at least a couple of friends around my age group. I guess I just think that chances are higher of becoming closer friends. This is not the be all and end all, but still a preference.
As for integrating, culturally (or generally), are Mexican people from this area open to making friends with foreigners? It was mentioned earlier that people may come across as unfriendly/distant, but could be shyness. Is this an obstacle that is easy to overcome with the right attitude, or is it likely to be a bit of an expat bubble?
Mar 8, 2013 7:16 AM
7As for integrating....
Perhaps you are asking too much if you want to be integrated into the culture of Miahuatlan. If you are sensitive and open, you will meet some locals and learn more about their way of life. But let's face it, you are a visitor and will be leaving in a year, and they and their families and friends live there.
Mar 8, 2013 11:30 AM
8Yes, I expect that that will be the general attitude. I guess I'm just hoping that there will be some people who are happier to have temporary friendships than others. In my experience, even if it's clear you aren't going to stay in a place permanently, the attitude of locals in terms of making friendships with foreigners varies massively from one culture to the next, for various reasons. I'm guessing from this message that in Miahuatlan, the attitude is more closed then. I just don't like the idea of moving to another country to only make friends with people from my own country. I've lived in an expat bubble before, and although I like to have friends from home too, it's not the reason we travel, is it?
Mar 8, 2013 1:36 PM
9I'm guessing from this message that in Miahuatlan, the attitude is more closed then.
No, that's not the message I meant to express. I cannot say the attitude of locals in Miahuatlan is different than any other Oaxacan town.
Jun 3, 2013 7:41 AM
10I cannot resist adding these comments by Aldous Huxley after visiting Miahuatlan in 1933, from his book "The Collected Works of Aldous Huxley: Beyond the Mexique Bay" (first published by Chatto & Windus, London 1934):
"The scene, as it reveals itself to the wandering spectator, is typical--a standard Southern Mexican back-cloth. At the centre of things lies the great desert of a glaring plaza, with tortoise-eyed Indian women sitting in the dust, each with her three pimientos, her nine bananas, her half-dozen tomatoes, arranged in geometrical patterns on the ground before her....If you happen to be a primitive human being, it must be quite a pleasant place to live."
Aug 21, 2013 10:02 AM
Aug 21, 2013 11:19 AM
(4 star Hotel)
From US$70.00 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$92.59 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$82.49 per night