La Profesora Abstraída

Weblog of Michelle Dion, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, at McMaster University. My blog has moved to michelledion.com/blog. Visit my other website.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Trip to Monterrey

Thursday and Friday I was in Monterrey, Mexico to check out the opportunities for our students to study, work, or participate in community projects there through our relationship with Tec de Monterrey. Georgia Tech has recently created the International Plan option for undergraduate students. Students that opt for the IP will be required to work, study, or do research abroad for at least 26 weeks over no more than two separate visits in the same linguistic region. The Plan is new, but many students, especially INTA majors, are expected to opt for the IP designation and will need opportunities to go abroad.

Though I was in Monterrey for less than 24 hours total, the short visit made me homesick for Mexico. Walking around the center for an hour Thursday night, I felt a strong pull to be back in Mexico. It's likely that I (maybe in coordination with some Spanish faculty) will be developing a study abroad program there soon.


View from campus building.


View of campus, where wild animals roam (literally).

Monterrey Tec is such a nice, new, modern, U.S-style campus that you could easily forget you're in Mexico. The entire campus is wireless, and an entire classroom building has every room wired for video conferencing. In addition, the bathrooms have signs asking you to put your toilet paper in the toilet, and there are no trash bins in the stalls for toilet paper.





For those that have traveled in Mexico, you'll appreciate this difference. Often, public (e.g., restaurant, hotel) bathrooms will ask that you not throw paper in the toilet and instead expect you to throw paper in a trash bin in the stall. A waste engineer that I met once explained that Mexicans often throw their paper in the trash rather than toilet for a couple of reasons. Often the water pressure is weak and only created by keeping a water tank on top of the house or building. This means that the pressure isn't strong enough to flush paper well without clogging the system. Also, she said that since most waste ended up in local rivers, people didn't throw paper so that paper wouldn't float down the river with the waste. Of course, this is only one woman's explanation, but since she was a waste engineer who studied "las aguas negras" outside of Mexico City, I'd tend to believe her. In either case, the bathrooms at Monterrey Tec are just one more reflection of how modern and North American the campus is.


posted by Michelle @ 7:26 PM,

6 Comments:

At 2/01/2006 5:28 PM, Blogger Jenée said...

Hello. My family and I are planning a trip to Monterrey, Mexico in March. We're planning to stay there for a month in our RV. We have never been to Mexico, so we need as much advice as we can get before we go. We are specifically needing recommendations on how and where to get RV and vehicle insurance and also we would like recommendations on the best areas to stay (campgrounds with RV hookups) in or near Monterrey. From your blog, it appears that you are familiar with Mexico. Do you have any advice or can you point us to some good on-line boards or forums about traveling in Mexico and Monterrey? Your pictures of Monterrey are beautiful. I'm eager to see those places in person! Thank you.

 
At 2/03/2006 6:10 PM, Anonymous oso said...

Did you check out EGADE? Talk about fresa. If you're gonna be spending more time in MTY, I definitely recommend Regio Blogs.

 
At 2/05/2006 9:09 AM, Blogger Elenamary said...

two things.
I am jealous of the international plan. I would so love to continue to study international political economics...don't know if my gpa could get me into school and most likely not at georgia tech.

you missed out on our toilet conversation awhile back let me look for it.
http://el-oso.net/blog/archives/2004/06/07/my-shit-is-inspirational/
http://www.elenamary.com/archives/000115.html

 
At 2/05/2006 8:55 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Oso, no I didn't visit EGADE when I was there, but I just checked out the website. Guau is all I can say. Since our MGT majors are heavily into the International Plan, it's likely that I'll be taking some to Tec next summer to take a class at EGADE.

Of course, one concern that I have is that Tec is so modern and north american that many students will only have a study abroad 'lite' experience or will come away with misconceptions (or no conceptions) about the social issues in Mexico. On the other hand, I might be able to lure some MGT or engineering students to go who would otherwise be too afraid (or apathetic) to go abroad at all. And even Tec would be more of an abroad experience than some of the Tech programs.

I'm hoping it will be a class with some MTec students and we can do a class blog--get the students out interviewing people and seeing stuff. Maybe some podcasts, too. Will definitely investigate regioblogs more closely.

Mary Elena, thanks for those links. Glad to know others understand about the bathrooms. A Mexican bathroom that doesn't even have a waste bin is something else.

 
At 2/09/2006 4:27 PM, Blogger cindylu said...

Wait, shouldn't they at least have trashcans in the women's restrooms for non-flushable sanitary pads?

Also, I wonder if Tec students are as distracted in class because they have wi-fi as I am.

 
At 1/20/2007 3:47 PM, Blogger Beachnik said...

OK, this is a trivial point, but I can’t resist.

Since people might be curious about this subject, let’s eliminate one of the myths.

The statements about water pressure and tanks on roofs is mostly wrong. Unlike the toilet pictured here, the majority of toilets that you see in Mexico are just like the majority of toilets you see in the States – with tanks attached. And when you see these toilets with tanks – in hotels, restaurants, etc. – you’ll see the message about not putting TP in the toilet.

Toilets with tanks will flush once, correctly, with the water line disconnected (i.e., with zero water pressure). That’s assuming that someone didn’t set up the toilet to fill the tank half way. The reason it will work without the water line connected -- typical toilets use a 'siphon' action to do their work (and a full bowl of water - which came from the full tank) – not water pressure.

If the pressure is so low that it takes 30 minutes for the tank to fill, that’s a separate issue and not a big problem (unless you’re a compulsive obsessive flusher).

I’d ‘guess’ that the issue is about the waste line, or, possibly the locals don’t treat waste products and they’re trying to get you to limit what goes into the waste water.

 

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