My favorite academic experience was my internship that I completed in a small village outside of Merida. I met once a week with a woman who started a fair trade co-op. By the end of the experience, I had improved my knowledge of life in her small village, her co-op, improved my Spanish speaking abilities, and made a new friendship.
Population: 1 million
Language: Spanish and Mayan
Merida is known as "White City" because of the large use of white limestone and white paint. This traditional city depicts much of the splendor of Colonial Mexico. The sheer age of this city gives it an old world flavor, but the fact that so many of these structures were built to last has enabled a level of preservation that makes you feel you have stepped back in time. This is by no means to say that Merida still exists in a time warp; there is old and new exhibited in everything from fashion to architecture.
As the state and regional capital, Merida is a cultural center, featuring multiple museums, art galleries, restaurants, movie theatres and shops. Music and dance play an important part in day-to-day life, offering students free cultural activities every night and weekend, as does visual art. The famous avenue, Paseo de Montejo, is lined with original sculptures. Each year, the MACAY Museum in Merida mounts a new sculpture installation, featuring works from Mexico and one other chosen country. In 2007, sculptures on Paseo de Montejo featured works by artists from Mexico and Japan.
Because of its tranquility and cleanliness, Merida has become a popular place for families from other Mexican states. Crime is not tolerated in Merida, and it has the distinction of the city with the lowest crime rate per capita in Mexico.
Merida is located in the Northwest part of the state of Yucatan, which occupies the northern portion of the Yucatan Peninsula. Its central location is ideal for trips to some of the Yucatan's most treasured ancient Mayan ruins and clear water cenotes.