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National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) Fall, Spring & Year



This guide was created to help you navigate the different aspects of travelling abroad as a UCEAP student. All important aspects of attending university in your host country are addressed here, including academic information, extension of UCEAP participation, cultural awareness, orientation, transportation, finances and much more.

Remember to also visit the Participants section of the UCEAP website for important information and deadlines.

“I can honestly say that if it were not for my study abroad experiences, especially in Mexico City, I would not be the woman that I am today. I had come to learn more about my roots, perfect my Spanish, travel, and make new friends, but I gained so much more than that; I was able to grow on an academic, professional, and personal level in ways I couldn’t even begin to imagine before.”
-Maria Beltran, UCSB
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Your UCEAP Network
 
 
 
 
Academic Information
Program Overview
The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) is the number one– ranked university in Latin America and is one of the world’s largest public universities, with over 300,000 students enrolled and 35,000 professors and researchers on staff. An internationally recognized university, recently awarded the Prince of Asturias Award in Communication and Humanities, UNAM offers the opportunity to make progress toward your major in a wide variety of fields in a world-class academic environment.
 
Academic Culture
The UNAM campus is a hub of Mexican educational and cultural activity. The central campus (ciudad universitaria) is expansive yet accessible and is served by good public transportation, including a free university bus service that traverses the campus. The university hosts countless concerts, lectures, and sporting events. The campus is also home to the National Library, which students and scholars may access.
 
As in many other countries, students in Mexico choose their major field of study before entering the university and primarily take courses solely related to their major. Therefore, Mexican students at UNAM are often more advanced in their field than UC students when they arrive. The university curriculum is well established for each major in any given facultad, with limited flexibility or course choice for Mexican students. You should understand that course content is based on this cumulative knowledge. Given that each course builds on the previous courses, coursework may be much more theoretically advanced than it is at UC. You may need to do extra background reading to bring yourself to the level of your Mexican counterparts.
 
Mexican students, particularly in the social sciences and humanities, tend to assume their social responsibilities by being knowledgeable about and vocal in their concern for issues and problems facing society. At times, UNAM can seem highly politicized. UCEAP participants generally have found their Mexican classmates to be stimulating and accessible, and although often critical of the U.S., they are usually interested in and open to various viewpoints, especially well-argued, thoughtful opinions. It is important that you demonstrate a similar respect for alternative viewpoints.
 

Class Format & Grading

Although you are free to apply to and take courses from more than one facultad, remember that you will be circulating among students who are already familiar with the reputations and expectations of their professors. Many teaching styles exist in such an enormous university, and it is essential that you check with the Study Center Director and staff as you make your course choices so they can guide you into academic situations that will work for you. Classes are normally smaller than those at UC, so there is more teacher-student interaction. There are many top-quality professors at UNAM, and you can take advantage of the opportunities presented in a small class. Mexican faculty members are not expected to maintain regular office hours. Thus, most UC students find it easier to meet with professors before or after class.
 
Generally, professors are more likely to require oral presentations than is usually the case in UC classes. Outside of science courses, objective tests are rarely given, and in many classes professors tend to assign brief written reports on required readings. The workload is much heavier toward the end of the semester since a majority of the final grade is based on a final paper and/or presentation. The amount of required reading can be heavy for certain courses, but overall it is equivalent to UC classes. Essay exams are also common and involve extensive writing. 
 
Course Information
The UNAM website offers course listings and many course descriptions that indicate the depth and breadth of this prestigious university. Visit the UNAM Oferta Académica web page for information on how courses are distributed among the facultades(Facultades, Escuelas y Centros). You can also search by area of study (Índice Alfabético). Courses taken by previous UCEAP
students are listed in the MyEAP Course Catalog, which also includes detailed descriptions and the number of UC quarter units assigned to these courses.
 
Although you must indicate the faculty from which you will choose your classes during the initial application process, you can always apply to and take courses from more than one facultad. Students typically take classes in the faculties of Economics, Filosofía y Letras, Ciencias Políticas y Sociales, and Psicología. Classes in the Facultad de Derecho as well as the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas (ENAP), one of the most prestigious art schools in Latin America, are also open to UC students. If you are interested in art or design courses at the ENAP, you must bear in mind that the school is located 45 to 60 minutes from the main campus, ciudad universitaria, so you'll need to be more flexible in arranging your schedule.
 
All courses at UNAM are taught in Spanish.
 
For fall semester 2013, you also have the option of taking a course, Sonic Identities in Modern-Day Mexico City, taught by Visiting Professor Elisabeth Le Guin of UCLA.
 

Registration & Requirements

You must register with both UNAM and UC and the Study Center staff will assist you in this dual process. In order to ensure that courses and grades are recorded on your UC transcript, you must complete your MyEAP registration by the deadline specified by the Program Coordinator or staff at the UCEAP Systemwide Office. Pay close attention to the way courses are listed on your MyEAP registration; this information is what will appear on your UC transcript.
 
  • You will enroll in regular classes with Mexican students at UNAM and be fully immersed in your academic subject and the intellectual culture of the country.
  • UCEAP requires you take a full-time course of study
  • Fall and Year students must enroll in a minimum of 18 quarter units each semester
    • if you are a Berkeley or Merced student, consider keeping your Study List between 19.5 and 22.5 UC quarter units (equivalent to 13 to 15 UC semester units)
    • In most cases, this means four or five regular university courses, depending on the number of units in each.
  • Spring (Advanced) students do not have an ILP and so must enroll 21 to 24 quarter units (equivalent to 14 to 16 semester units) of UC credit for the semester

 

If you find that a course is not yet listed in MyEAP, please note the following:

  • Units often correspond to the number of official class hours listed on the syllabus or the online class schedule.
  • Courses in the social sciences often have more class hours and therefore more units than many classes in the humanities.
  • Provide a copy of the course syllabus and course schedule to the Study Center staff
  • Ask if you are not sure of your total UC units for the semester!

Graduate Coursework

If you are a graduate student, you are welcome and encouraged to participate in the immersion program. You must submit all the same application materials as undergraduates. If you want to enroll in graduate-level courses, you must submit a copy of your transcript or other documentation describing where and when you finished the undergraduate degree. You must also translate this document into Spanish.
 
Some graduate courses are available to undergraduate students who have advanced standing (junior or senior) with 18 units of upper-division units basic to the subject matter of the course. You will need to submit a General Petition prior to finalizing your course registration to request approval from the UCEAP Associate Dean.
 

Independent Study & Internships

UNAM is an important center for all varieties of scholarly research and offers many courses that could lead to additional research opportunities. Independent study is possible in most disciplines. Consult with the Visiting Professor and Program Coordinator early in the program to determine opportunities in your selected field of study. Internships are possible, but more difficult to arrange. If you are determined to have an internship, you may need to be flexible.

Intensive Language Program

The fall and year programs begin with a four-week intensive language program (ILP), which consists of a Spanish language course worth 4 upper-division UC quarter units and a Contemporary Mexico course worth 4.5 units. Both courses are designed specifically to help you prepare for UNAM. In the language course, provisions are made for different language levels.
 
The Contemporary Mexico course provides the academic background that will be vital to your success once you enter regular university classes. The course instructor is familiar with UC students and presents contemporary Mexican culture, society, and diversity in addition to a historical perspective. Excursions in and around Mexico City complement lectures. Assignments include the sorts of reading, discussion, and composition that are expected in UNAM classes.
 
The ILP is not offered for Spring (Advanced) students going for the spring 2014 semester.
 
Grades
UNAM professors may maintain your academic records, but the grades you receive from UNAM professors are not the final UC grades. Grading scales used or published by UNAM are not automatically applied in awarding UCEAP grades.
  • Be aware that grades for UNAM may be delayed by the host university and are often posted later than grades at a UC campus.
  • Fall grades are usually available by mid-February or early March.
  • Spring grades are usually available in mid- to late-August.
You will receive an automatic e-mail notification when your grades are transmitted to the UC Registrar, at which time you will be able to view your grades through your MyEAP account. You will need to wait a while longer after this notification for grades to be posted to your official UC transcript by the Office of the Registrar.
Extending UCEAP Participation
 

Planning for Extension

At UNAM, you can extend UCEAP participation from the fall program to the full year in Mexico.

Process

  • Before you depart for Mexico, indicate your intent to extend your studies on a completed Departmental and College Preliminary Approval to Extend (DPA) form.
     
  • Submit the DPA form with your UCEAP application. It is often possible to submit a late DPA during the predeparture phase, so check directly with the Operations Specialist.
  • Once abroad, meet with the Study Center Director and submit a Request for Final Approval to Extend (RFA) form. The deadline to submit an RFA is November 1.
     
  • Requests for extensions are considered when there is space at the host university and the request is supported by the Study Center Director, UCEAP, your UC campus department head, and your UC dean or provost.
  •  
  • Once your extension has been approved, UCEAP will notify your UC campus registrar, Financial Aid Office, and Campus EAP Office. For information about the steps you need to take in regards to finances, see the Extension of Participation chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
     
If you are admitted for a full year program, you will be expected to complete the academic year in Mexico. Any request to shorten the stay will be treated as a withdrawal from the program and UC, with possible financial penalties.
 
 
Cultural Awareness
Educate Yourself
Get acquainted with your new host city, country, and culture before you leave California. The Inside México website provides information regarding current events, arts and culture, and other practical information for English speakers traveling or living in Mexico. Travel guides and travel-related websites such as Lonely Planet are also helpful resources.
 
As you prepare to study at UNAM, think about the subject areas most interesting to you, and select a few texts to read. Any amount of preparation you do now will help you once you are in Mexico.
 
Keep up with current events by reading articles in newspapers, magazines, and journals. You will also need to understand the local culture and history. These sources will help you prepare before departure.
 

Recommended News Sources

Official Start Date & Mandatory Orientation
 
You will attend a required orientation administered through the UCEAP Study Center. During orientation, you will participate in lectures and activities designed to help you acclimate to Mexico City and the country as a whole, and become familiar with the Study Center. The Study Center organizes a number of excursions and activities for you. A typical semester may include weekend day trips to such locations as Cacaxtla, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Teotihuacán, Puebla-Tonantzintla, or Xochicalco.
 
Fall and year students will meet the Study Center staff on arrival day. During a group dinner that evening, the staff will provide you with a welcome package that includes metro, city, and campus maps; a schedule for the semester; phone cards; and emergency phone numbers. In addition, the Study Center staff will review all practical components of the program, including the program calendar, academics, housing, student services, computer access, money and banking, telephones, mail, public transportation, and health, safety, and emergencies.
 
Spring students will go straight to their housing arrangements on arrival day.  On the second day, you will meet the Study Center staff for a welcome lunch and orientation.
 
Travel Planning
Travel to Your Host Country
You are responsible for reserving and purchasing your tickets (even if you are on full financial aid). Your Financial Aid Office is not responsible for purchasing tickets. You are strongly urged to purchase a changeable airline ticket. Standby tickets are not appropriate for EAP.
 
When traveling, always carry your passport and visa, ticket, prescription medications, and money. Never put valuables in checked luggage. In addition, do not ask others to carry any items abroad for you (laptop, camera, extra bags, etc.) and do not volunteer to do so for others. Airlines will not allow you to take them and customs abroad may charge you a high duty. This is a concern particularly with electronic goods.
 
You must arrive in Mexico City by the Official UCEAP Start Date. The official date/time and meeting place is provided on the Arrival Instructions sheet in the UCEAP online Predeparture Checklist—print this and take it with you. The program calendar is also frequently updated on the UCEAP website. You are strongly urged to purchase a changeable airline ticket. Standby tickets are not appropriate. Flights are routinely changed or canceled. Confirm your flight schedule before your departure date.
 
If you fail to appear on the Official UCEAP Start Date, you may be subject to dismissal from the program (see the Student Agreement in MyEAP). If you arrive early, you are responsible for finding your own lodging until the program starts.
 
Although late arrivals are generally unacceptable, certain unusual cases can warrant an exception. Late arrivals must obtain advance approval from UCEAP. Contact the Operations Specialist at UCEAP well in advance of the Official UCEAP Start Date.
 
Update MyEAP with any changes to your address, phone number, and e-mail in order to be kept informed of program changes. Predeparture updates will most likely be sent via e-mail.
 
 
Travel Documents

Non-U.S. Citizens

If you are not a citizen of the U.S., contact the appropriate Mexican consulate immediately upon your acceptance into UCEAP to determine your specific visa/ entry requirements. Depending on your country of citizenship, requirements may differ and the process may take longer than it does for U.S. citizens.
 

Mexican Citizens & Dual Citizens

If you are a citizen of Mexico, or a dual citizen of Mexico and the U.S., you will not need to apply for a student visa. Make sure that your Mexican documents are updated prior to arriving in Mexico City.
 

Entry Requirements for U.S. Citizens

Obtain a passport immediately (if you do not have one already) or ensure that your current passport will be valid for one year past the duration of your stay.
  
Year students only: You will need to obtain a student visa in the U.S. before entering Mexico.  You cannot enter on a tourist card and then switch to a student visa.
  • Obtain a student visa prior to departure from the Mexican consulate. You must apply in person with a valid U.S. passport. Details of other required documents are included in the UCEAP Predeparture Checklist and on consulate websites. You should confirm requirements with the Mexican consulate. Most Mexican consulates in California issue student visas for a
    small fee (usually less than $50). You must enter Mexico within thirty days of obtaining your visa.
     
  • Occasionally the consulate staff may instruct you to enter Mexico with a tourist card, and obtain your visa from within Mexico instead. If this happens, locate another consulate that will help you to get your visa prior to entering Mexico. If you are eligible for dual citizenship, do not be surprised if consulate officials urge you to apply for dual citizenship instead of a student visa.
     
  • Complete an FMM (FORMATO MIGRATORIO MULTIPLE) on the airplane when you arrive.  It is important that the box for CANJE is checked.
     
  • When you arrive at the airport in Mexico City, make sure that both your visa and your passport are properly stamped.
     
  • You must register your visa with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office (migración) within 30 days after arrival in Mexico City.  You will need to take 4 passport type photos and fill out a form.  You do not need to pay a fee.  The Mexico Study Center Staff will provide more information during orientation at the start of the program.
 
Fall and spring students: You will need a tourist card to study in Mexico.
  • You only need to fill out an FMM (FORMATO MIGRATORIO MULTIPLE) on the airplane when you arrive. You will need to show your Acceptance Letter issued by the Mexican University, Institution or College and your passport.  It is important to check that you are “VISITANTE ACTIVIDAD NO REMUNERADA”.
     
  • Tourist Cards can be obtained at the port of entry in Mexico; if you are flying to Mexico, you will fill out an FMM (FORMATO MIGRATORIO MULTIPLE) on the airplane as you arrive.  When you go through Customs, an official will ask you how long you plan to stay.  Tourist Cards are granted for 60, 90, or 180 days. You should ask for a card valid for 180 days. You should be aware that if your port of entry is other than Mexico City, you may not be able to obtain the full 180-day card. 
     
  • Fall students, if you decide later on that you would like to extend your UCEAP studies in Mexico for more than six months, you will need to leave Mexico at the end of the fall semester and reenter the country for the spring semester with a new tourist card. 
Packing Tips

Return Travel
 
 If you plan to travel and remain abroad for more than 12 months, consider purchasing a one-way ticket.
 
Financial Information
Understanding Your Finances
 
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
 
 
Handling Money Abroad
The official currency unit in Mexico is the peso (abbreviated MEX$ or MXN).

Contact Your Bank before Departure

Many banks and credit cards offer online services that will allow you to check account balances and pay bills quickly while abroad. Check with your bank and credit card providers before departure to make any necessary arrangements. Also, find out how to contact your bank and credit card companies from abroad.
 
Some U.S. banks issuing credit cards or ATM cards do not have agreements with Mexican banks. Inquire with your U.S. bank before departure. Before you use your ATM or credit card in a Mexican ATM, ask the cashier if the bank will accept it. If the bank does not accept that type of card, the ATM will keep the card.
 
 

ATM Cards

Using an ATM card is by far the easiest way to access your money abroad, and the exchange rate is the most favorable. You can withdraw funds directly from your U.S. account from an ATM in Mexico. ATMs are widely available in Mexico (although they do not always function) and you will receive cash in local currency (pesos).
 
If you do not have one already, obtain an international ATM card from your U.S. bank for use in Mexico. Take two ATM cards with you in case one gets lost or stolen. The ATM card must be international and it must have a four-digit PIN in order to work in Mexico.
 
Cirrus, Star, or Plus systems can be used in Mexico. There may be a transaction fee involved (inquire with your home bank before departure). ATMs in Mexico frequently require persistence. Having a backup source of funds is strongly advised (e.g., credit card) in case a functioning ATM cannot be located.
 
Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and withdrawing money from an ATM at night, as robberies near ATMs are common.
 

Cash

UCEAP participants note that having some cash in U.S. currency is convenient for exchanging smaller amounts, and it comes in handy for tips, airport purchases, and airport transfers. Take caution, however, as cash is not a secure way to transport funds.
 
 
 
 
Communications Abroad
Internet Access
The Study Center in Mexico City has four computers with Internet access, which are available for exclusive use by UCEAP students. There is also a printer available for academic papers. In addition, the UNAM campus has numerous computers that can be used for a fee.
 
If you take a laptop, you may access the UNAM wireless network, which is available on campus. In order to use it, you must first register your laptop at the DGSCA building. For more information, visit the RIU UNAM website. Most of the housing arrangements include the cost of wireless network access in the monthly rent.
 
Many students also utilize Internet cafés (which are common in Mexico City) to access the Internet, check e-mail, and write and print papers. The cost is about 10 to 25 pesos an hour.
 
 
Phones
 
Mail & Shipments
 
Housing & Meals
Where Will I Live?
UCEAP-arranged housing options include private homes or apartments located throughout Mexico City. There are no housing facilities on the UNAM campus. The UCEAP Systemwide Office will ask you to complete a housing questionnaire indicating your preference. Every effort will be made to provide you with your first housing choice, but this is not always possible. In general, the accommodations are about a 5–10 minute walk or a 20–25 minute bus ride from campus. Most students take the microbus for 2.50 pesos, and some take the metro for 2 pesos.
 
If the Study Center arranges your housing, you can expect to be provided with all bed linens and pillows, but not towels (these are considered personal items). You can bring towels and all other personal items from home or purchase them once you are in Mexico.
 
You can also choose to make your own housing arrangements. However, finding housing in Mexico City for only six months can be difficult. UCEAP recommends that you secure a place to stay before you go abroad. If you make your own arrangements, you must note this in the UCEAP housing questionnaire and include your address abroad. If you plan on living with a relative or friend in Mexico City, make sure you know which part of the city they live in, as commutes from the city center to campus average one hour or more.
 
 
Meals
 
Daily Life Abroad
Local Transportation
Study Center staff will provide more information on local transportation during the initial orientation period.
 
The UCEAP Student Budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.

Public Transportation within Mexico City

Public transportation generally is adequate to meet student needs, both within Mexico City and in the country at large. Mexico City has an excellent subway system (metro) with eight or nine lines traversing the city, including one line running to the UNAM campus. It costs about 2 pesos to travel throughout the city on the subway system. The municipal transit system also includes an extensive bus and streetcar service, which connects to the subway. There is also a widespread system of inexpensive colectivos and peseros, which are taxi-vans that run along fixed routes. Fares are low by U.S. standards. Bus and subway service is suspended just after midnight. Students are advised to call sitio taxis for transportation at night.
 

Taxis

The U.S. embassy in Mexico strongly urges U.S. citizens arriving at the international airport in Mexico City to take only “airport” taxis, which are white with a yellow band, after purchasing a ticket in the airport arrival hall. You should always call for a sitio taxi in Mexico City rather than taking a free-ranging green Volkswagen taxi. Sitio taxis are operated centrally and connected via radio by Servi-Taxis. Tourist taxis are available from larger hotels, but these are expensive.
 

Cars

Do not take a car to Mexico. Permits to operate cars are difficult to obtain, insurance is expensive, and parking and security are serious problems. Renting automobiles in Mexico is also expensive, and you may do so only if you are over 25 and have an internationally recognized credit card. Again, security is a concern. With all the other means of transportation available, driving in Mexico is not advised.
 

Buses

Buses are the most common form of intercity transportation and service is excellent throughout Mexico. Most major lines offer a new first-class service (Plus Service) that is comfortable and reliable. ETN is a reliable service provider with low rates for first-class routes. Routes extend to some of the smallest communities in the most remote places, and fares are relatively low. Purchase tickets online at the Ticket Bus website. See the Safety chapter of this guide for further safety precautions related to bus transport.
 

Planes

Air travel is reliable within Mexico, with modern equipment on most routes. Fares are cheaper than in California, but considerably higher than either bus or train fare.
 

Trains

Train travel is not recommended. Fares are low, but equipment is out of date and sometimes in poor repair. When traveling by train, allow for delays since schedules are seldom met.
 
Extracurricular Activities
Participating in extracurricular cultural and social activities while abroad is an excellent way to meet people, improve your language skills, and integrate more fully into the Mexican community.
 
Join sports teams (soccer, football, basketball); dance (salsa, flamenco, etc.), musical, theater, or arts groups; volunteer at local organizations; attend lectures and receptions held in academic and community circles; and get the most out of your time abroad. There are many gyms or private clubs that you can join. Prices vary depending on the club and can range from relatively cheap to expensive.
 
Mexico City provides a wealth of cultural activity with its many museums, theaters, parks, monuments, and frequent special events. It is also a center for international and national cinematography.
 
Popular websites listing cultural and current events:
 
Information about travel, including youth hostels, can be obtained from travel guides and from the websites of some of the more popular guides.
 
Students with Disabilities
Travel Sign-out Form
 
Insurance
UCEAP Insurance
 
Staying Healthy
Local Medical Facilities
 
Physical Health
Prescription Medication
     
Mental Health
 
Health Risks
Staying Safe
Minimize Risk
Crime & Prevention

Drugs & Alcohol

The use of drugs is strictly forbidden by law. While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.
 
Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Mexican laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking illegal drugs in Mexico are severe, and convicted offenders can expect heavy fines and long jail sentences of up to 25 years.
 
Never feel pressured to drink. Alcohol impairs judgment and reduces safety. It is recommended that you go out in groups and never walk home alone at night, especially if you are impaired by alcohol. If you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, do so responsibly. Your judgment and healthy decision-making will be impaired. Criminals are known to target vulnerable individuals whose judgment is impaired by intoxication. Always watch your beverage. Instances of drink spiking have been reported. Do not leave drinks unattended in bars and nightclubs. Drugs can easily be mixed into drinks when unattended. These drugs can disorient you, dramatically impair your judgment, or cause you to lose consciousness. Once you lose sight of your drink, do not continue drinking.
 
Be aware of how much you are drinking and how much alcohol is poured into your glass, and know the alcohol percentage in your drink (in some countries, drinks have a higher alcohol content and may be served in larger portions). If you are on medication, make sure to find out if it will become ineffective or if it could intensify the effect of alcohol.
 
UCEAP will start disciplinary action for alcohol abuse and misuse.
 

Sexual Assault

Rape and sexual assault continue to be serious problems in resort areas. Many of these incidents occur at night or during the early morning hours, in hotel rooms, or on deserted beaches. Acquaintance rape is a serious problem.
 

Street Harassment

Street harassment is an unfortunate reality in Mexico City as it is in many major cities around the world. While verbal harassment disguised as a compliment is not considered by many as sexual, there is a city law specifying that forms of sexual abuse in public places range from leering, comments, suggestive gestures, and touching. Even with this law in place, you may encounter street harassment. Talk to the Study Center staff if you find that you cannot cope with this.
 
Civil Unrest
 
 
Traffic & Transportation Safety
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
 
Driving styles and road standards and conditions are very different from the United States. Some roads can be poor in some areas of the country. Dangerous curves, reckless driving (ignoring speed limits, lane changes, and/ or not stopping at red lights), poorly marked signs, slow-moving or abandoned vehicles, and other obstacles pose road hazards. All road travel should be limited to daylight hours throughout the country.
 
Never wear expensive jewelry or use electronic devices while using public transportation.
 
Sitio taxis in Mexico City are most often metered and registered by the government. Sitio taxis from Benito Juarez International Airport are paid in advance in the terminal (at the sitio stands) and are well regulated. Robberies and assaults on passengers in “libre” taxis (that is, taxis not affiliated with a taxi stand) are frequent and violent in Mexico, with passengers subjected to beating, shooting, and sexual assault. Do not take any taxi not summoned by telephone or contacted in advance. When in need of a taxi, telephone a radio taxi or "sitio" (regulated taxi stand), and ask the dispatcher for the driver's name and the taxi's license plate number. See below for more information.
 
City buses are somewhat crowded and can pose problems because pickpockets typically work the crowded, busiest routes.
 
Sexual harassment is a significant problem on public transportation in Mexico City. Because of this, women and men are separated into different Metrobus and subway cars during rush hour. Once people are inside the bus/metro car, however, this separation is not strictly enforced. To avoid being victims of sexual harassment, women should not travel alone during rush hour or at night.
  

Pedestrian Safety

 
As a pedestrian, it is your responsibility to make yourself visible and avoid dangerous behavior and situations. When possible, utilize the sidewalk; if not available, you should walk against the flow of traffic. Always obey crossing signals, but make sure to look both ways before crossing into the street. Even if you have the right of way, it is important to realize that vehicles may not always stop. Make eye contact with drivers and pay attention to the environment around you. If you are wearing headphones or talking on your cell phone while crossing the street, it is important to pay attention to your surroundings and take extra care to avoid dangerous situations. Crossing a busy street while blasting music into your headphones doesn’t exactly enhance your awareness.

IMPORTANT!

Taxi Safety in Mexico City

The best crime defense for any visitor is to avoid the use of libre taxi cabs, which commonly pick up fares on the street after being hailed by customers. Libre taxis are poorly regulated and often linked to criminal enterprises. Sitio, or radio-dispatched base station taxis, are safer, more reliable, and worth the added expense.
 
Currently all taxis in Mexico City are issued registration numbers beginning with the letter “A,” so sitio and libre taxis are virtually indistinguishable. Passengers who use libre taxis are often robbed by two or three armed individuals who enter the taxi a few minutes into the trip, having been called or signaled by the driver.
 
Also, libre taxis are often connected to express kidnappings, abductions where the victim is turned around in a matter of hours for a small ransom or shuttled to a series of ATMs and forced to withdraw funds. Because 24-hour withdrawal limits are now the industry standard on ATM cards, express kidnapping victims are typically held for 24 to 48 hours to maximize withdrawal amounts.
 
  • Due to the danger involved in utilizing libre taxis and the increased difficulty in determining the difference between the different types of taxis, the best practice is to avoid hailing taxis on the street entirely. Instead, always telephone a radio-dispatched sitio taxi rather than hailing a free-ranging green Volkswagen libre taxi.
  •  
  • Ask the sitio dispatcher for the driver’s name and the cab’s license plate number.
  •  
  • Before entering a cab, verify that the driver matches the photo ID posted on the taxi window and verify the name and license plate.
  •  
  • Once in a taxi, remain alert, keeping all possessions close by and in sight. Taxi drivers have been known to take things from passengers’ bags if they are left unattended.
 
Earthquakes
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area or Los Angeles, you live in earthquake country. Much of Mexico’s volcanic and seismic activity is caused by the movement of the North American plate against the Cocos and Pacific plates and it is one of the most active trenches in the world. In 1985, Mexico City was hit by one of the most devastating earthquakes in the history of the Americas. The earthquake measured 8.1 on the Richter scale. Authorities have implemented an early warning system, but it is unlikely that such a system could prevent serious loss of life and property.
 
Earthquakes strike suddenly and without warning. Surviving an earthquake and reducing its impact requires preparation, planning, and practice. Read the informational Emergency Survival Guide prepared by the Los Angeles County, which has valuable information that applies to any natural disaster around the world. You can also access the U.S. CDC Earthquake Preparedness information.
 
Sketch a floor plan of your home, identifying exits and safe and dangerous areas of each room. Mark safe spots (under doorways, in an inside corner of room, etc.) and dangerous spots (next to large windows, tall furniture, etc.) in each room. The best places to be during an earthquake are beneath supported archways, against inside walls and corners, or in doorways. Stay away from windows, hanging objects, mirrors, fireplaces, bookshelves, or tall unsecured furniture. Do not crawl under desks or beds as they could crush you if a heavy load falls on top of them.
 
Travel Warnings & Registration
 
UCEAP Contingency Planning
 
Fire Safety
 
In An Emergency
 
 
 
 
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