Student: Fernando Gaxiola
Major: Communication and Social Influence, BA ‘24
Home Country: Mexico
Five Tips to fit in like a local in Mexico
- If you need something repeated or did not hear something clearly, or someone calls your name, say “Mande” which is much more respectful than “¿Que?” which could be perceived as rude.
- Keep in mind that most people greet each other with an embrace and a kiss on the right cheek. If they don’t have a personal relationship, men greet each other by shaking hands.
- When in an indoor establishment, take off your hat and sunglasses, especially if it’s in a church or you’re about to eat.
- Understand that punctuality is less of a priority in Mexico, even in professional environments. While you should still make an effort to be on time, do not be surprised if people are late, even up to an hour. Also reconfirm plans with people you plan to meet.
- DON’T expect to find Apple compatible technology (Such as Apple Pay). The majority of people have Android smartphones.
Five Cultural missteps to avoid in Mexico
- Try not to take it as an insult if people refer to you in what you may perceive as crude ways, such as “Gringo” “Güero” “Moreno” or even “Chino” “Negro” or “Turco” or other adjectives that will probably get your background incorrect or feel derogatory. These words do not have the same meaning in Mexico as they do in English, and more often are said affectionately. (In order: American/English-speaker, light-skinned/blond, dark-skinned, Chinese/East-Asian, African diaspora, Middle Eastern/South-Asian).
- If someone is handing you something for free, especially in a touristy area and they are being insistent, do not take it as it could be a scam (they will pressure you to pay for it and not take it back).
- Always bring cash with you as many places only take cash, but divide it among your pockets, and always have an ID different from your passport with you (your passport should be left in a secure place).
- Do not fall into the misconception that Mexico is lawless or more lax on laws. Strictly follow laws because as a foreigner breaking rules could be seen as especially disrespectful.
- If you’re traveling to Mexico City, realize that the altitude there is extreme. Your body will likely need to adjust and you may feel weak performing physical exercise at first.
Photo Credit: Fernando Gaxiola