Yuxuan Shen - China
Cast B 2013
Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico
Although Cast B 2013 did not go to Mexico City as a part of our Mexico tour, having to go there to apply for my visa to Europe gave me a great opportunity to explore the great city. Having heard that Mexico is a really diverse country, which even has cultural differences between states, helped me prepare for a totally different city. However, I was still shocked when I actually saw the city. The first thing I noticed was how big the city is! Even coming from China, to me, Mexico City was still very big; especially compared to other cities we had traveled to as a cast. Crowded streets, people everywhere and tall buildings make Mexico City such a big and busy city. However, staying there for a week and a half made me discover it much deeper.
Mexico City is a very diverse city ready to be explored. As a city that has the most museums in the world, you can definitely expect the city to be rich in history and full of amazing historical sites. But, it is also true that Mexico City has wonderful modern buildings and metropolitan lives. There was a day that I was taken to a luxury mall by my host family—with a stream of water accompanied by beautiful flowers and trees in the middle, the mall was full of high-end products and popular brands across the world. All the shops were so fancy and had great designs. However, despite the fact that Mexico City is host to amazing historical sites and international metropolitan lives, it also has a great amount of people living in poverty. One day, on our way to an upscale area of the city, we passed several mountains that were covered by little houses, and my host mom told me that people living in those houses do not even have enough money to paint their homes. But just a few minutes later, we were driving past huge houses and golf courses. This kind of extreme economical gap is not uncommon in Mexico City. In fact, Mexico, along with other developing countries, suffers from unbalanced economic situations between the rich and the poor. I was really thankful to really be able learn about the city on a much deeper level than a tourist.
Being able to spend Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico City was another great opportunity I got. Walking throughout the Zocalo (city square) before Dia de los Muertos gave me the opportunity to see the preparation of the wonderful market for the festivities.
In fact, seeing all the sculptures and pictures of skulls in front of the national cathedral and the national palace was shocking. In China, death is typically a bad thing to talk about. People really avoid any mention of it during conversations-even joking about death is not acceptable since people think that will bring bad luck. However, in Mexico, people really celebrate death and those who have lived before. They make what could be a very negative and sad thing into something fun, positive, and colorful that can be celebrated. I believe this positivity is rooted in the Mexican culture and being a part of this celebration really helped me to appreciate this colorful and bright culture.
Since I was in Mexico City, I also got the chance to visit the pyramids and the National Museum of Anthropology. Standing among the pyramids and seeing all the great work that ancient people accomplished without any modern technology was really amazing. I was very impressed by their imaginations which were expressed through their amazing sculptures and paintings.
The last amazing thing I got to do in Mexico City was to participate in the filming of a Mexican movie as an extra.
Because my host sister was an actress, my roommate and I were invited to join her in a movie as extras. We played the roles of two public school students. Although we were shooting just one scene that may only be in the movie for just a few seconds, we spent the entire morning shooting it. Standing in the cold doing the same thing again and again helped me really understand one sentence that my host sister told me—“cinema is made from love.”
Although I had to leave the cast for a week and a half, I had a great time in Mexico City and felt that I was really able to experience and explore the city in depth. I have grown to really love Mexico City and the great Mexican culture, and I feel like I took advantage of every opportunity I was given…which is what Up with People is all about.