What to Expect When Studying Abroad in the Yucatán

Mérida, Mexico is just one of CIEE's many amazing options for study abroad in Latin America. The city is the vibrant capital of the Yucatán state, and home to countless reminders of the of the early Mayan civilization, the indigenous people of Mexico and Central America who’ve occupied the region for more than 3,000 years.

What else can you expect during a study abroad adventure in Mérida? 

  • Mérida is among the safest cities in Mexico. In fact, the entire Yucatán Peninsula boasts some of the lowest crime rates in the country. You can expect to see police patrols often and the streets are often filled with local families on the way to the town Plaza. Of course, just because the city has an excellent safety record doesn’t mean you should ignore the advice of CIEE staff, who always recommend you travel with another student.
  • Chaya is life. Chaya, or tree spinach, is a leafy green attributed to the Maya Indians and known as “a miracle plant.” It is used in a multitude of ways: whipped into smoothies; cooked into meals; as a decorative garnish on plates; and for medicinal purposes like stimulating circulation and improving digestion. Some believe it can also help with ailments like acne, kidney stones, eye problems, and more. It’s proven though - Chaya is a great source of vitamins, antioxidants, protein, calcium, and iron. When you study abroad in Mérida, you’ll have plenty of chances to give Chaya a try!
  • Pork, turkey, and chicken are on every menu. There’s no shortage of incredible food in Mérida. Good restaurants abound and many feature Yucatecan cuisine – a combination of Mayan and Latin American techniques and flavors. Pork, turkey, and chicken are common – but the preparation is nothing like you’re used to. Citrus marinades, pickled onions, pumpkin seeds, and achiote paste are all common additions and generally result in exquisite meals.
  • Two temperatures. The locals like to say Mérida has two temperatures – hot and hotter. The coolest temperatures occur between November and January, when highs are in the 80s and lows in the 60s. In the peak summer season, temps average in the 90s, but some days can surpass 100 degrees. Thankfully, Mérida has plenty of ways to stay cool, including a refreshing swim in one of its otherworldly cenotes.

What will you discover when you study abroad in the Yucatán?