I got the chance to travel to Puebla recently with Jessica as part of an ATMEX (Adventure Tourism in Mexico) conference we both attended. What struck me about Jessica was how she lived and breathed Mexican culture – it was so visible that it was her passion, and there was no other place in the world that I could see her living. This is a girl who loves Mexico and who wants to share Mexico with the world – do not hesitate to connect with her to ask her any of your Mexico questions!
Jessica immersed herself in an internship with the Mexico Tourism Board, and then at 22 achieved the goal of living and working in Puerto Vallarta. After 10 months at the beach, she decided it was time to move inland and now lives in Mexico City. Her current projects include being a Mexico Today contributor and handling social media and online marketing for Journey Mexico.
Where are you from originally?
I am originally from Sterling Heights, Michigan – a suburb of Detroit.
What prompted a move to Mexico?
I have been in love with Mexico since my first visit in 2002. Since then, I just always felt like it was where I belonged. I got the urge to move to Mexico when high school started but I didn’t really think it would become a reality until I spent a summer studying in Puebla. After that, I knew as soon as I graduated college, I would come back to Mexico to live and start the next chapters of my life.
The thing all expat wannabes want to know – how do you support yourself abroad?
That is something I hadn’t given much thought to before I moved to Mexico, but I didn’t care – I knew I would make it work. I made sure I got a full-time job as soon as I arrived that got me by and then some. I truly believe because of my heart and passion, new opportunities found mewhich helped make ends meet. I have a lot of school debt hanging over me but I’m not letting it define my life orstop me from reaching my goals. I’m not sure how smart that is, but all I know is that I am incredibly happy and life is too short to be anything but.
How did your family and friends react when you first mentioned that you were moving?
Well, my Mom knew I wanted it for years, so when the reality hit that I actually was going through with moving to Mexico, it wasn’t that hard for her. She knew it was my dream, so she supported me. Plus, she knew she would be visiting a lot! I felt the rest of my family (the majority) wasn’t at all supportive of my dreams and it really hurt.
We have spoken before about how connected we both feel to the Latino culture. Can you explain a little of the parts of Mexico that suit your personality well?
What drew me to the culture was that I perceived that the majority of Mexicans weren’t as money-hungry as Americans. It seemed as if living life, having family close and experiencingnew experiences mattered more than an all-encompassing professional life. I knew that that was the type of lifestyle I wanted for myself.
What drives you absolutely crazy about living in Mexico?
There are a few things! More than anything, customer service – it is practically non-existent. Dealing with the bank, phone companies, credit card companies, you name it, is a nightmare. They almost never have the answers you are looking for and if they do tell you something, it is usually wrong — there is never consistency.
It also drives me crazy that Mexican’s don’t have that instinct to ‘go to the left’ when someone is walking toward you, so you always end up doing the awkward dance on the sidewalk or in a mall.
You work with English speakers quite a bit – do you find that you hang out with more expats or locals?Do you get treated like a local by other locals, or still as a foreigner?
I hang out with more expats than locals, however I am totally open to making local friends. Working from home, I don’t really mix and mingle with the locals, so it is very hard to make friends. Where I live specifically, no one can really tell I am a foreigner until I open my mouth — but either way I have always been treated with kindness.
What it is it that makes Mexico specifically hold such intrigue for you, as opposed to moving to a different Latin country such as El Salvador or Costa Rica or Ecuador?
I have no idea, but like the name of my blog, I am just Mexican at Heart. I think I was Mexican in another lifetime or something.
What advice do you have for someone still back in the US who is on the fence? Their heart wants to move abroad, but maybe the logistical aspects or fears stop them…
That there is nothing to be afraid of and that it will all work out as long as you want it badly enough. I promise this! I think there is no better time than NOW because in reality, there is a chance that it might not work out, but that’s okay… If you go, at least you know. And you experienced it. And you are ready to set new goals and aspirations for yourself! I actually wrote a blog post about it, called “Change is an Opportunity to Grow”.
Do you hear a lot of concerns from family or loved ones in the US who feel that Mexico is an unsafe place for a younggringa to be living?
I hear a lot of it and I just tune it out now. Mexico is a giant country, with 31 states. When people tell me “Mexico is unsafe” I tell them to get a map, do their research, and to stop being so ignorant! Bad things happen all over the world, you just have to be aware of your surroundings. I grew up not even 3 miles away from one of the most dangerous cities in the world, Detroit, but do I generalize it and say “USA is unsafe”? No, that is foolish!
Any plans to ever move back to the US? What would it take, and what are the things that you feel would be hardest to readjust to once back stateside?
I don’t ever plan on moving back. I even joke around with my Mom that once I have babies, she is going to have to move here (I am an only child). I don’t think it would be hard to readjust if I did have to go back though.
How can we keep in contact with you?
The best way is my Facebook: www.facebook.com/jessica.seba.mx
Facebook Blog: www.facebook.com/mexicanatheartj
You can also track what I do in my day to day life in Mexico City on foursquare – https://foursquare.com/mexicanatheartj