It can be an incredible experience to live and work abroad. More people are finding ways to uproot themselves from the UK and go live in a foreign country. With the world becoming ever smaller thanks to communication technologies and the increase of freelance based positions, one can reposition themselves in another country without too much disruption to their professional lives.
As such, Mexico City has become something of a mecca for those looking for a change of scene. With its stunning architecture and celebrated food culture along with affordable rent rate, over the last 5 years the British expat community has grown by 28%.
Ian Weisberg is a freelance columnist and food blogger who has been living in Mexico City for 2 years now. I wanted to ask him about some of the challenges he faced in this time abroad.
Ian describes the poverty as a guilt inducing situation with little sense of improving. Despite the country’s 12th largest economy in the world, the idea of trickle-down economics doesn’t seem to have worked. Regardless, evidence of extreme wealth in some areas of Mexico makes for a sickening sense of inequality especially at some of the restaurants he´s reviewed.
He suggests that despite the saddening situation, taking it upon himself to carry small food artifacts and keeping spare change handy for those that ask for it settles some of his conscience although he knows its piece meal to the epidemic of poverty. Donating to a charity is considered futile as the corruption is believed to infect even those who purport to support the poor.
Food stalls are a fixture of the public street. These are literally permeant stands that are rented out affordably to anyone wishing to sell goods or services. As such, with the diverse food culture and reliance of home cooking, one can find a variety of snacks and meals for very affordable prices. Although for health reasons, its best to keep the frequency of such ventures down as most things are unhealthily deep fried and hygiene conditions are without any inspection or standards authority.
Regularly taking worming tablets and keeping a hand sanitizer as a defence barrier is an essential part of surviving bacteria and infections that locals are seemingly immune to.
Whilst London’s air quality has taken a severe nose dive over the last 10 years, Mexico City has remained one of the most polluted cities in the world. Owing to its high altitude and based in the valley of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, air pollutants tend to dwell in this basin. A permeant smog rests upon the city giving the impression of a dusty wild west town.
Ian likes to run for exercise but after getting nasty chest infections whilst honking on daytime air pollutants during a jog, he found it best to leave the exercise to the evening when then temperature has dropped and most traffic has subdued. Running during or after a heavy down pour is one of the most life affirming things to do as the atmosphere is cleared and makes him think a little of home.
Fun but extremely challenging.
Overall Ian was glad to have made this bold step in repositioning himself to Mexico City. The friendships and experiences are testament to a worthwhile experience. That being said he found many more challenges to his experience through culture clashes and misinterpretations in social situation. Ultimately, like anywhere, there will always be a new set of circumstances that have draw backs to their benefits. Some of these I´ve tried to list here.
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