What documents do I need to bring?
You will need to bring a valid passport and a photo ID (state driver's license, U.S. employee or student I.D. card).
How should I pack?
Pack as lightly as possible. There is a laundry one block from the Universidad Internacional (Center for Bilingual Multicultural Studies). You may drop off your laundry in the morning when you go to class and pick it up before you go home at 2:00 p.m. for the main meal of the day. Laundry services are very reasonably priced.
If you need assistance with your luggage in the Mexico City airport, porters are available. A tip of $1.00 USD per bag is suggested.
What kind of clothing do I need?
We recommend casual, comfortable clothing. Light weight slacks, walking shorts, short sleeved shirts or casual dresses are appropriate for the classroom. A sweater or light jacket is recommended for cool evenings (particularly in January). Comfortable walking shoes and socks are essential. One dress for an evening in a nice restaurant is also suggested. Swim suits are recommended as there are pools in many of the family homes. A white lab coat and name tag is required for admission to the health care agencies we will be visiting. Bring one or two wash cloths for personal use: they are not provided in Mexican hotels or homes.
Will I need an electrical adapter?
Mexico is wired with 110V electrical outlets, so you do not need an adapter to use a hair dryer, curling iron or electric razor.
How much money do I need?
Expenditures are very personal in nature and are dependent upon individual resources and spending habits. Local transportation by taxi and bus is not expensive. Taxis may charge anywhere from $1.50 to $2.50 USD for trips within the city. Bus fares are less. Your family is responsible to bring you to school each day and come get you for the main meal; all other local travel, field trips, etc. are the responsibility of the individual traveler. Watch the news for daily exchange rates of the US dollar and the Mexican peso.
Can I use personal checks?
Personal checks are difficult to cash and we recommend taking Traveler's checks (there is an American Express Office in Cuernavaca) and Credit cards (Visa and MasterCard are the most popular). Sometimes the exchange rate makes the use of credit cards less expensive than paying cash. Traveler’s checks are accepted in places which do NOT accept credit cards! Credit cards are not accepted for field trips sponsored by the University or at Las Mananitas (a favorite restaurant in Cuernavaca – Las Mananitas accepts American Express only).
Many travelers prefer to use ATM machines and receive money directly in pesos. You MUST know your PIN number!!
Always write down your credit card # and phone # of the company and keep it in your household in case you lose your card while in Mexico!
Should I get US dollars exchanged into pesos before I arrive in Mexico?
Because our arrival in Mexico is on Friday afternoon and the banks are closed on Saturday and Sunday, we recommend that you take some pesos with you for the weekend ($50 is ample). Although you may not spend much money over the weekend, having pesos available provides a sense of security. Purchases on field trips can usually be bought with U.S. Dollars.
Where can I store my valuables?
We suggest leaving valuables such as expensive jewelry at home. Avoid wearing gold chains and expensive necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Lock your valuables in your suitcase and leave them in the home where you are staying. This is the safest place for your belongings. There is also a safety deposit box at Universidad Internacional (Center for Bilingual Multicultural Studies) should you desire to leave something at the school.
If I travel independently to Mexico City, how do I connect with the group?
If you make independent travel arrangements to Mexico City, the group will meet you in the International Arrival Area of the Mexico City Airport. We ask that you arrive no later than 12:00 noon. There are shops and restaurants on the second floor of the airport for your convenience while you wait to connect with the group and tour guides. We will depart for Cuernavaca as a group. Once in Cuernavaca, participants will be taken to the school where they will meet their families and go to their homes for the main afternoon meal.
When will I see the group again?
There will be an optional group get-together Friday evening at 6:45 p.m. at Café La Universal in El Centro (Center of the City). We will meet in the outside patio area for casual conversation and informal questions and answers. If you prefer to stay with your families, they will bring you to the school the following morning for orientation.
What medicines should I take?
Any medication you normally take, whether it be a prescription drug or medicines you have available in the house for an emergency (i.e. analgesics, antihistamines, anti-diarrhea medicine, etc). There is a physician located on campus and students have access to a local private hospital in the event of an emergency.
How can I avoid the "turista?"
We recommend drinking only beverages which are bottled (soft drinks, water, beer, etc.). We do not recommend drinking beverages sold in restaurants with ice; beverages prepared by your family are safe. The school has worked closely with families to help them prepare food and beverages which are safe for travelers. We do not recommend eating any uncooked vegetables, salads, etc unless they have been prepared by your family! Foods sold on the street which look delicious (i.e. ice cream) are not safe!
What if someone needs to contact me in Cuernavaca?
A list of families and their phone numbers will be faxed to us a few days prior to departure. We will provide this information to you to leave with your families at home. Phone calls may be received prior to 10:00 p.m. Phone calls received after that time must be with the permission of your family or constitute an emergency. We will help you to learn to use local phones (using a phone care) as most families do not permit guests to use their phones. You may receive a fax at the Center (FAX # 52-73-17-05-03) or a phone call (PH #: 52-73-13-04-02).
If you wish to take your personal cell phone, check with your phone company prior to departure from the U.S. to assure you can make international calls, the timing, and cost.
What will my daily schedule be like ?
On the day after arrival, there will be an Orientation Session at the Center in the morning. You will be given a Spanish test to determine your placement (don't worry about this - you are there to learn), receive a tour of the Center and learn about the week's activities. Following your main meal, we will provide a walking tour of the city to acquaint you with the major landmarks. On Sunday, the School sponsors several field trips -- we will not know what these are until arrival. Typically, there are trips to Taxco (the Silver City), Mexico City's Anthropology Museum or the pyramids outside of Mexico City. We will plan for your individual wishes on Saturday after arrival. On Monday through Friday, you will be in class from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Your classes will consist of Spanish grammar, conversation, mini courses about Mexican culture, medicine, traditional health customs, etc. In the afternoons we will arrange selected trips to local health care facilities. These will be arranged according to your interests and will be finalized after arrival in Cuernavaca.
How much merchandise can I bring back into the country duty free?
You can bring up to $200.00 duty free. Each adult is permitted no more than two liters of alcohol. There are duty free shops in the Mexico City airport.
What suggestions have you had from previous travelers?
Previous participants have made the following suggestions of items the wish they had brought:
Notebook or legal pad
Bottle of water (for refilling at the Center)
Camera and extra batteries
Penlight or flashlight
Small dictionary or battery operated translator
Calling card (verify international validity prior to leaving US)
Are there any helpful phrases which I could learn?
One previous participant offered this list of helpful expressions for future travelers:
Buenos dias (good morning)
Buenas tardes (good afternoon)
Buenas noches (good evening or good night)
Senor (Sir, Mister, Gentleman)
Senora (Madam, Lady)
Senorita (Young lady, Ms)
Por favor (please)
Gracias (thank you)
Muchas gracias (thank you very much)
De nada (you're welcome)
Adios (Good bye)
Hasta luego (See you later)
Perdoname (Excuse me)
Con permiso (May I be excused ‑ literally means, with your permission)
Lo siento (I'm sorry)
Esta bien (That's all right)
No importa (It doesn't matter)
Habla usted ingles? (Do you speak English?)
Yo soy norteamericano (I'm American)
Hablo un poco de espanol (I speak a little Spanish)
No hablo espanol (I don't speak Spanish)
Necesito ayuda (I need help)
No comprendo (I don't understand)
Comprendo (I understand)
Me llamo (My name is)
Como se llama used? (What is your name?)
Como esta usted? (How are you?)
Estoy bien, gracias (I am fine, thank you)
Salida de emergencia (emergency exit)
Banos, Servicios (bathrooms)
Con cuidado (careful)