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Mexico native studies in Germany, Alabama

Alejandra Guillot-Ontañon, a senior majoring in anthropology and German, is from Mexico City originally but has studied abroad in Germany as well as The University of Alabama. Photo courtesy of Ellisa Bray

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Often when people think of international students studying abroad, they only consider them coming to the United States to get a taste of another culture. Breaking the mold is Alejandra Guillot-Ontañon, a senior majoring in anthropology and German, who is originally from Mexico City but studied abroad in Germany as well as at The University of Alabama.

Why did you decide to come to The University of Alabama?

When I was a senior in high school, I moved to Birmingham with my parents. I lived there for a year and it was time to go to college, so I visited a few places and [the University] was the best fit.

What do you like about campus? What do you not like?

The campus itself is really nice. It’s really pretty. In Mexico City the universities are usually in the city and not on a separate campus, so I think ours is really beautiful. I can’t think of anything I don’t like. I love it.

What is most different here than in Mexico?

The culture, definitely. For example, in Mexico we’re used to everyone being the same religion. We learn about Catholics and Protestants, but we’re never told that there are so many different Protestants, and not everyone here is openly religious so you have to be careful in a way.

Was it hard to adjust?

I wanted to adjust, but I knew I was only going to be there for a year, so it was hard. Once I went to college, everything changed because there are a lot more people from different backgrounds, whereas at the high school I went to, my brother and I were the only international students.

What is your favorite thing Americans do?

Well since I was in Germany for a year, I love that the stores and everything are open on Sundays because in Europe they’re not, and on Sunday, you just don’t know what to do. In Mexico, not all the stores are open on Sundays, not like here.

How do you feel about football?

I’m starting to like it more, because that’s a must here. At first I wasn’t too into it, but since I live in Alabama I have to, and now I really like it.

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Mexico native studies in Germany, Alabama