Mexico

Welcome to the Mexican Culture Guide!

This page, like all of our cultural guide pages, will forever be a work in progress. Please check back at a future date for additional information. If you have cultural or culinary expertise when it comes to Mexico, please do share! We’d love for you to email us at with your thoughts.

Mexico has grown to be one of CHI’s biggest sending countries for international students. Chances are, you’ve already become somewhat familiar with Mexican culture, either through students or your own travels. Below you’ll find a few notes & tips we feel are especially pertinent for hosting.

Cultural Pointers

  • Physical contact is very common among Mexicans. Your student may greet you with a kiss on the cheek (or two), or may stand very close, or perhaps put their arm around you while sharing a laugh.
  • It is common for Mexicans of different generations to spend time together socially - consider inviting your student along to events even if you presume they wouldn’t be interested.
  • Individual greetings and farewells are important in Mexican society.
  • Many hosts describe their Mexican students as relaxed, easy-going, and very social.
  • There is a strong class system still at play in Mexican society. Your student may be used to private schools and conspicuous consumption. Equality in Canadian society is an important message.
  • Don’t be offended if your student calls for your attention with 'psst!' - It’s a common sound in Mexico.
  • Mexicans are masters of celebration! Ask your student about their national or cultural holidays in any given month.
  • As with other Latin American cultures, most Mexicans go by two family names. The first of the two comes from their father’s side and is the default surname.

Language- Spanish.
However, there are as many as 100 Native American languages that are still spoken in Mexico. The most important of these languages is Nahuatl, and is spoken by nearly one fourth of all native Americans in the country.

Family is very Important
The needs of the family are usually placed before individual needs. There are very strong bonds and frequent interaction between a wide range of kin.
Students are usually very attached to their parents, and their parents to them. Communication between them might seem excessive or even inclusive to others.

Parenting and Authority
Respect to elders is one of the most important values in hispanic culture. Parents in Latin cultures can be very “strict”. Children don’t usually get to many opportunities to “talk back”.
Students might feel like taking advantage of the “freedom” experienced away from their parents.
They might find it hard to establish their own boundaries in absence of their parents.

Gender Roles
Gender roles are taught early and are relatively strict. Ex. Men provide and women take care of the household. Fathers usually have prestige and authority, and sons have more and earlier independence than do daughters. However, it is important to know that gender roles appear to be relaxing as the woman’s role is redefined.
Male students might now know how to do many house chores, or get offended to be asked to perform “women’s work”. Their parents might get upset at this also. It is important for host to understand that students are not trying to be rude or lazy, they are simply learning a new gender role.

Food
Meal time is a very important social event in Latin America. The main meal is usually served between 1pm and 4pm. This meal is particularly elaborated, with soup, salad, main dish, dessert and other side dishes available.
Students from Mexico are used to eat meals with lots of Protein and carbs. They might feel hungry at times due to a new diet. They also might feel that their meals are “plain” or with little flavour. Host are recommended to have a home made salsa available for students to condiment their meals.

Communication
People from Latin America tend to be very loud and expressive. They usually speak with many hand gestures and with an “emotional” tone. They also prefer communication that is non confrontational in nature.
Some students might feel that their hosts are being rude or angry to them when they explain things such as rules of the home, and expectations

Socialization
Latin Americans tend to be very sociable. They constantly move in groups, and place an emphasis on Interpersonal relations. They are also very physical with each other, hugging and kissing social acquaintances is very normal.
Students might prioritize social interaction before school chores and responsibilities. They might also get depressed if they don’t make friends quick enough.

Time Management
In Latin America, plans are considered more general guidelines than anticipated outcomes. There is usually more time flexibility in regards to appointments.
Students might find it challenging to be on time.

Tips for hosts
Cook Together- A meal from students home is a great way to figure out what your student likes to eat.
Negotiate, but do not cave in: Present options to reach an agreement. ex. curfews.
Discuss expectations with your student. Ex. everyone contributes to household chores.
Latinos are very social: Physical and emotional interaction is very important.

Further Reading