Allison Rosewicz - Author InterviewLearn more the author
A full time resident of Mexico with her partner and son, Allison has a lot to share the nation, which she doesn’t plan on leaving anytime soon. The culture of Mexico continues to entice her and raise her son in the traditional ways of Mexico. Before relocating, Allison spent time exploring Southeast Asia, while teaching in Vietnam and South Korea. She has a passion for traveling and hopes to share her passion with her son in the years to come.
As quickly as the years have passed, I feel like I've gone through a time warp, with all the life experiences I've had here that I never even expected for myself.
How long have you been living in Mexico? What made you decide to move to there?
The end of September 2013 will mark five years that I've been living in Mexico. As quickly as the years have passed, I feel like I've gone through a time warp, with all the life experiences I've had here that I never even expected for myself. I originally decided to move to Mexico after two years of living in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and before that in Seoul, South Korea. For as long as I can remember I'd always known I'd like to live in Mexico, and after a few hectic years in big cities in Asia I just got an instinctual feeling that it was time for me to "settle down." So I looked for English-teaching jobs in rural Mexico and ended up here in Miahuatlán, Oaxaca, Mexico. I fell in love, had a baby, and now I'm in the application process to become a permanent resident in Mexico.
You mentioned in your article on An admiration that though Mexico shares borders with the U.S., it is a completely unique country. What one characteristic do you think separates Mexico most from the United States?
No doubt, the most glaring difference between the U.S. and Mexico is the culture. Throughout my years of traveling, I've always been at a loss for an answer when foreigners ask me to describe the U.S. culture. To me, there isn't a distinct one, and it's impossible for me to answer that question very well.
Mexico, on the other hand, has a very deeply-rooted culture. Traditions that existed centuries ago are still practiced today. Where I live, many indigenous languages are still alive and well, and I can't help but get chills when I'm walking on my university campus or through town and hear people speaking a totally unique language.
Aside from Oaxaca, what city would you suggest to those interested in visiting Mexico?
Within the state of Oaxaca itself, I would suggest people visit the coast. Just pop some motion sickness pills, and I promise the curvy, hilly ride will be worth it once you reach the coast. My family and I really enjoy Puerto Escondido and Mazunte or San Agustinillo.
In the entire nation of Mexico itself, my suggestion is pretty typical -- Mexico City. I think many foreigners think of this city negatively for its reputation 10 to 15 years ago, but today I believe travelers would be pleasantly surprised at the mix of modernity and history in Mexico City.
You have a young son living with you in Mexico, how do you think growing up in Mexico differs from that in the US? Would you consider the country an ideal place to live for young children?
Before my son was even conceived, I had a strong conviction that I would never permanently live in the States again. And when he was born, that resolve carried over. It was never even a question whether we'd remain in Mexico. For one, my partner and son's father is a Mexican citizen. It would be very difficult for him to get a visa to the U.S. if we were to choose to go there, and I would never ever separate our family just to live in the States. Secondly, I believe my son can have a more enriching childhood here in Mexico, growing up with all the traditions (musical, artistic, culinary, etc.) and not being overly bombarded with material things he doesn't need. My son, Darian, does have a U.S. passport (and therefore he is a U.S. citizen as well as a Mexican one) and we do visit my family there on a regular basis, even though we have no plans to ever live there. I think this will only add to the enrichment of my son's life, experiencing the contrast between his two "home" countries and their lifestyles. It is very important that my son learns English, since no one in my family in the States speaks Spanish. Currently, we live in a rural town where there are no schools that offer English immersion. So before Darian begins primary school, we're planning on moving to the state capital, Oaxaca City, where English will be a part of his educational routine.
In one of your articles, you gave advice ways to learn Spanish in Mexico. Why should students study Spanish in Mexico?
Mexico truly is an ideal place to learn Spanish. I always explain to my students that learning a foreign language fluently is practically impossible if that language is not made a part of your social life. In Mexico, finding any English (spoken or written) is very rare, so you truly will get an immersion experience here. And along with the social aspect of learning Spanish here, there are a lot of studying opportunities through the many schools that offer Spanish and culture courses.
What is the most important advice you would give students interested in studying, volunteering, or teaching in Mexico?
The most important advice I can give to anyone coming to Mexico for any reason -- whether it be to study, teach, volunteer, or simply travel -- is to "give yourself up." I know it sounds strange, but you're going to experience a lot of new lifestyles and cultural differences that can sometimes put you on the verge of exasperation. Even after five years of living here, I still struggle with this. I'm very organized and many people call me a perfectionist -- these aspects of my personality don't always jive in Mexico, a country known for being incredibly "tranquilo." I sometimes mistake this as a lack of inspiration and get really frustrated. These are the moments when I have to take a deep breath, "give myself up," and remind myself of all the beautiful reasons I am here. It also helps to take a trip to the beach. ;)
Before settling down in Mexico, you had your share of living, working, and travelling in Asia. What did you do in Asia?
In Asia, I taught English at the elementary/junior high level, whereas here in Mexico I teach at a university. I first worked in South Korea for a year, then in Vietnam for two years. During that time, I did a lot of traveling throughout Asia. I visited China and Japan, but I especially loved journeying through Southeast Asia, in countries like Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and the Philippines.
Do you have any plans to cross the globe again? What country is next on your list?
Yes, I most definitely plan on doing some world traveling again. In fact, it's at the top of my agenda for raising my son. Experiencing different countries and cultures changed my entire perspective on life, but I didn't start traveling until my twenties. It's of the utmost importance to me to give my son the enriching opportunity of travel as he's growing up, so as to shape his character and life perspectives from a younger age. Right now, traveling with an almost-3-year old is quite difficult -- my son and I have been to the States together a few times -- but as soon as Darian is a bit older and able to remember we will definitely travel to other regions of the world. Finances are also an issue, since my salary isn't a huge one, but I plan to save up for a big trip once every 3 years or so. Honestly, I really miss many of the countries I've already been to before, so I definitely want to take my son there. I also feel since I know those places a bit, it will be easier to get around with a child and explain things to him.
But I'd also like a new adventure to experience together. My father's side of the family is of Lithuanian heritage, so I'd really like to visit Lithuania, Poland, and the Czech Republic sometime. In the meantime, until Darian's older, we're sticking with visiting friends and family in the States once a year and traveling in Mexico.
If your son were a grown man, what experiential travel abroad would you want him to take? Which country would you suggest?
As a grown man (and even younger, with me!), I want my son to get every travel experience he can! Like I mentioned before, I believe traveling the world is the most enriching, educative experience a person can have, so of course I want my son to get as much of that as possible. Out of personal nostalgia one country I'd really like Darian to visit is India. It was my first foreign experience and absolutely life-changing. To this day, India is still the favorite place I've ever been. People often ask me what it is that I like India so much but it's hard for me to explain in words. The best I can do is to say it's the most different, eye-opening place I've visited. So definitely, I want my son to go there...along with me if possible! Most of all, though, I just want my son to travel, travel, travel to his heart's content, but I don't want to force it on him. That's why I hope sharing my experiences with him and taking trips with him can instill in Darian a natural curiosity and love for travel.