By Marta Urbaneja Lozano and Carolina Reyes Chávez

“Although I would love to visit those countries, I don’t think it is a good idea to go for a research track during my third semester…” This thought is shared by many Euroculture students who fear that they will make a terrible mistake for their future careers if they do not get an internship. While this second option is absolutely wonderful and useful, those Euroculture students who are attracted by the third-country research track should not be afraid to pursue this possibility. 

Studying at a non-European university will definitely boost your CV as you prove to be a curious, flexible, and opened-minded person. Moreover, this experience will allow you to be critical and analyze the Eurocentric perspective we usually keep in the Old Continent. 

Also, let us tell you a secret: while you have your whole life ahead of you to work hard on your career, this may be your last chance to get out of your comfort zone and explore the world!

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) is one of the four Euroculture partner universities where you can spend your third semester. How about learning more about this wonderful choice?

Jump to a section you are interested in or read the whole article. It is up to you!


We will start with a very cool fact about UNAM. It is the biggest university in Latin America, so big that in the 1950s it got its own CITY! 733 hectares long in the south of Mexico City, Ciudad Universitaria (better known as CU, the ‘university city’) was built to concentrate all the campuses previously spread over downtown. CU is bigger than countries such as Monaco or Vatican City and it counts with all any student could need: sports facilities, concert halls, museums, plenty of places to get cheap and nice food, and Olympic stadium, a network of transport system…you name it. In the surroundings, you can even find a good deal of coffee places and bars to chill and have fun after a tough studying day. 

UNAM Main Library
Main Library, UNAM. Picture by Marta Urbaneja Lozano

Like a proper city, every area in CU has its own charm which is pretty much influenced by the faculties concentrated there. Being a Euroculture student, you’ll attend classes in the CIALC (Centro de Investigaciones Sobre América Latina y el Caribe –  Latin America and the Caribbean Research Centre), which is located at the very heart of the main campus and close to the most emblematic buildings. In fact, CU’s central campus was included in the UNESCO World Heritage list in recognition of its monumental dimensions and as an acknowledgement of the quality of twentieth-century Mexican architecture.

As a cultural note, the design of most parts of CU is meant to resemble prehispanic architecture, and that’s why you can find a lot of green and open spaces interspersed between buildings, as well as staircases and walkways made of volcanic rock that recall prehispanic pyramids!


Life as a student in this University City is full of possibilities. One of the biggest advantages is the internal transport system which is free of charge, so students can move easily between campuses either by bus or bike. The other big advantage is the food on offer. Every faculty has its own canteen, accessible to all students and staff, where a full meal costs between 2,50 and 3,00 euros. Additionally, there are plenty of food options between buildings, most of the time even cheaper than the canteens, from tacos de canasta to sushi, and even specialty coffee. Are you vegetarian? Fear nothing! Even though in Mexico City the vegetarian culture is not that developed yet, most of the typical Mexican food (quesadillas, sopes, huaraches, tlacoyos, chilaquiles, and a long etcetera) can be vegetarian or vegan. Additionally, close to the CIALC there is the Faculty of Philosophy and Literature, where you’ll find plenty of vegetarian/vegan options. Once you are there, don’t forget to visit the Main Library (Biblioteca Central), which is perhaps the most emblematic building of CU, and whose murals are enough to take away anyone’s breath.

Alebrijes, Mexican spirit animals.
Picture by Marta Urbaneja Lozano

Regarding sports, UNAM offers a myriad of possibilities. You can check online for the sports offered by the university, look for Facebook and Instagram pages/groups, or just walk around the campus and ask since the majority of sports are practised outdoors. Usually, you will have to pay per class, but prices are really low. For instance, you can practise CrossFit in Las Islas for just 1,50€ per class. There is also an incredible swimming pool and a gym which you can access upon prior presentation of a medical certificate (which you can get easily at the university). Joining a sport is definitely one of the best ways to socialise with Mexican students and enjoy the outdoors. 

Concerning cultural activities, UNAM has a huge network (inside and outside CU) of cultural centres, concert halls, theatre forums, dance spaces, and museums which are worth checking. It’s impossible to get bored!


Euroculture students attending UNAM will be part of CIALC: Centro de Investigaciones Sobre América Latina y el Caribe (The Research Center for Latin America and the Caribbean). As the number of Euroculture students is so restricted (usually 4-7 students maximum), classes are held in small conference rooms used by CIALC’s professionals. As a result, the relationship built between the professor and the students is close. Often, classes feel like an informal chat among a group of colleagues where everyone wants to learn from everyone else (including the professors from their students). Participation, critical thinking and debate are encouraged in all seminars. Moreover, the final assessment is carried out through presentations or essays/papers on a topic related to the subject (the student has quite a lot of freedom of choice regarding the election of the topic). 

CIALC is located in Torre II Humanidades, one of the most distinctive and easily accessible buildings on campus since it is a 10-minute walk from the subway station Copilco (UNAM is so big that most students arriving at this metro station have to use a bus afterwards to get to their building, lucky us!). Moreover, it is the most vibrant area of the university where it all happens!

The 2022 syllabus for Euroculture (21 ECTS) was as follows: 

Europe and Latin America in the Twentieth Century → An overview of the history of encounters between these two regions over the centuries up to the Twentieth Century.

The Impact of the Cuban Revolution in Europe and Latin America → A study of Cuba’s recent history, its consequences in Latin America and the country’s current situation. 

Feminisms, Culture and Politics → Analysis of the main feminist movements and theories all over the world, with a special focus on the Latin American region. 

The European Union and Latin American regionalism → An overview of the Latin American tradition with regards to regionalism as well as the influence and relationship with the UE.

Qualitative Methodologies for Social Research → Through the analysis of the most relevant social research methods, the student gets important knowledge for the development of the master´s thesis. 

Visits to Museums → Each week a visit to one of the city’s museums is scheduled. Students can suggest those that most appeal to them. 

Moreover, Euroculture students are offered additional classes from a long catalogue offered by UNAM as well as language courses. 

Dia de los Muertos celebration
Catrinas for the celebration of Día de los Muertos.
Picture by Marta Urbaneja Lozano

Classes at UNAM for Euroculture students start in August and finish in December. Regarding the schedule, UNAM tries to assist Euroculture students as much as possible, understanding that they would love to have as much free time as possible to explore the city. All seminars are held once a week for two hours, and most important: Fridays are usually days off! 

Every year many Euroculture students want to get a place at UNAM for the third-semester track but, unfortunately, the master can only offer a very limited number. Therefore, plan to write an exceptional letter of motivation as it is your main key to achieving such a highly desired position at UNAM!


Before going to Mexico

Euroculture students can travel to Mexico without a visa and stay in the country for 6 months. Nonetheless, on arrival at the airport, they will have to go through migration control where many questions will be asked. Thus, booking a return flight is compulsory. If you are not sure when you want to leave the country (classes last for 4 months and a half but as an international student you are allowed to stay up to 6 months), buy an open return ticket or one that can be modified. You will also need to present other documents upon entry into the country, so check online to be well-prepared! 

Another aspect to consider is vaccinations. Mexico does not require any vaccinations to enter the country, however, all travellers are advised to get some specific ones. Find out in advance as, depending on your country of origin, the process of obtaining them can be long and complicated.

Regarding money and cash, as you may know, Mexican currency is the Mexican Peso (1 € = 19.48 pesos approx). In Mexico City, there is usually no problem paying by credit/debit card, although some local establishments only accept cash payments. Therefore it is recommended to always bring some cash with you, being easy to withdraw money from the majority of ATMs in the city. In some of the major banks in the country like Citibanamex, the exchange fee is not too high. 

Even if moving to Mexico City could seem like an overwhelming experience, do not plan or overthink too much in advance! It is a welcoming city where you will soon feel at home. Mexicans are just wonderful and will try to help you with anything you need. One last piece of advice: try to learn some Spanish before arriving to make your first days easier!

Don’t hesitate to reach out to the Euroculturer or the authors of this article if you have more questions related to practical issues or procedures to enter the country!


Distances in Mexico City are enormous so you will be dependent on public transport for almost everything. The best options to move around are the metro and metro bus. You can buy a rechargeable card for less than 1 euro, each journey costing about 20 cents so it is definitely a budget-friendly option.  Another alternative is regular buses, nevertheless, they are not considered as safe as the metro and metro bus, especially for internationals. In the case of the metro, there are cars in which only women are allowed to travel so that they can feel comfortable and secure. 

Finally, Ubers are usually very cheap and a safer alternative to taxis. Nevertheless, watch out for rush hours because traffic jams in the city are just awful! 

Mexican Market
Typical Mexican market.
Picture by Marta Urbaneja Lozano

Mexican gastronomy is incredibly rich and there’s a reason for this. The huge size of the country, plus the wide variety of areas and climates that compose it make each region produce food with certain delicious particularities. In Mexico City, you can find places to try all these types of food. We recommend trying as much as possible since gastronomy is a fundamental part of the experience of being in Mexico City!  

Living nearby CU, the closest zone to try all kinds of delicious food is Coyoacán. Besides being a particularly beautiful part of the city, it has a rich variety of restaurants and cafés. If you don’t know where to start, just stand in front of La Fuente de los Coyotes, look around and choose a restaurant, they are all good! An advantage of Coyoacán is that it is very likely that in most places the waiters can speak English. Another good area to try is the Zócalo or Mexico City Center. Two places that are a must are the renowned Café de Tacuba and Sanborns de los Azulejos.

Other very good alternatives are the Mercados (Markets/Food halls) which also provide a large selection of wonderful options. Mercado Coyoacán, Mercado Portales y Mercado Roma are really worth trying. 

Last but not least, there’s the vast culture of street food. For certain kinds of food (like tacos), the best options are to be found in street stalls. There’s not really a guide for this. When you are exploring the city, look at what places get a good amount of customers: those are worth trying. Perhaps a better option is to ask a Mexican friend for recommendations. Zones with a rich variety of vegetarian or vegan options are Roma and Condesa. We also recommend this Mexico City food guide so you can easily navigate through the endless variety of options.


Disclaimer: Mexico City is not Cancun. Mexico City is usually warm during the day (very very warm), but fresh during the early mornings and evenings. Even if you will not need a big jacket, pack with you some Autumn-Winter clothes because the cold may surprise you every now and then. Moreover in Mexico City, it rains a lot, especially in August and September, so remember to bring an umbrella, a raincoat and waterproof shoes with you.

Activities within the city and around Mexico 
Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City,
Picture retrieved from Pexels, by Ivon Gorgonio

The list of things to do in the city is practically infinite! Although 4-6 months do not give you enough time to get to know the whole city, it is enough time to get a good idea of it. If possible, a great idea is to arrive a week or two before the start of classes so that you have time to explore around. Follow Facebook or Instagram pages that post activities taking place in the city and just make the most of your time. In addition, some of the country’s most important holidays take place during this time of the year, especially Día de la Independencia y Día de los Muertos, so plan them in advance to get to the most Mexican experience!

Near Mexico City there are plenty of beautiful spots to go by bus or car, including many Pueblos Mágicos. Some of the must-sees are: Pirámides de Teotihuacán, Grutas de Tolantongo, Puebla, Tepoztlán, San Miguel de Allende, Morelia, Peña de Bernal… But as stated before, you may find endless villages, natural areas and archaeological sites that are absolutely worth visiting. 

There are other parts of the country which are wonderful but have to be reached by plane from Mexico City (or very long bus trips). Undoubtedly, a trip not to be missed is to Yucatán. This region is full of incredible natural areas and cenotes, picturesque colonial towns, and impressive archaeological sites. You may find some affordable flights from Mexico City if you look in advance. 


One of the biggest fears students may have before moving to Mexico is whether the country is safe. Generally speaking, yes, as long as specific basic safety measures are taken. It is undeniable that Mexico is a country with major problems of violence, but that does not mean you have to be scared every day. Ask coordinators and professors on arrival for advice on which areas to avoid, or try to contact former Euroculture students who have already been in the city. Some of the safest and most popular neighbourhoods to move around are Roma, Condesa or Polanco. The city centre is usually crowded so, as in any other major city, you have to be careful not to get robbed, but it is lovely and still worth exploring. 

Mexico City, Picture retrieved from Pexels, by Victor Armas

Regarding accommodation, the best idea is to look for a place in Coyoacán. This area is gorgeous, full of life and colour, restaurants, cafés and shops. Moreover, it is quite easy to get to UNAM by public transport. The price of a room in a shared apartment in this area could be 300-400€ approx. It is not too difficult to find accommodation in Mexico City, but just in case, look in advance!


Mexico is magic, colour, music, aromas and joy. This country is addictive, you cannot visit Mexico just once, you need to come back again and again. Few places in the world will make you feel as welcome as Mexico. It would take a lifetime to get to know this whole country, all its natural areas, picturesque villages, and amazing cities. And as the capital, Mexico City is the best place to start exploring this country. With an international atmosphere but full of charming Mexicans who will do their best to make your stay easier, Mexico will quickly become your second home.

¡México te espera!

Featured image by Axel García

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