A Bison Abroad | An Introduction to Monterrey

Off in the distance, behind a statue of José María Morelos, lies Cerro de la Silla, a natural landmark unique to Monterrey.


In the state of Nuevo León, just two hours south of the Texas border, lies the heart of international business and the largest university system in Mexico.

While not immediately recognizable compared with Mexico City, Playa del Carmen or Cancun, Monterrey is Mexico’s third largest metro area and ninth largest city. It also has the second worst traffic, after Mexico City, or so I’m told.

Monterrey is known as the “City of Mountains” (or el ciudad de las montañas, for those who want to practice their Spanish) because it is surrounded on each side by the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range, with Cerro de la Silla as its most recognizable formation.

Cerro de la Silla is the most recognizable formation in Monterrey’s mountains and gets its name from its distinct saddle-shape. The Sierra Madre mountains provide ample hiking opportunities for those who love the outdoors or those who just want to view the city from above.

Monterrey is also a hub for Mexican and international business. Prominent Mexican companies like OXXO, CEMEX and Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma Brewery (that produces local favorite beer brand, Tecante), and international businesses, including Whirlpool, Sony, Caterpillar and Boeing, have locations in Monterrey. This creates a vibrant population from all over the world and all over Mexico.

It also creates plenty of jobs for the students graduating from Monterrey’s largest university, and Mexico’s largest university system, Tecnológico de Monterrey.

Tecnológico de Monterrey was founded in 1943 as a college meant to teach mainly engineering and technical-related job skills. Since then, it’s expanded to include a variety of degree paths, plenty of athletics and cultural activities and 31 campuses spread throughout the country. Tecnológico de Monterrey, or “Tec” as it’s affectionately called by its population, gained prominence not only in Latin America but also around the world as a leader in education and research.

Despite being considered by some the most “Americanized” city in Mexico, Monterrey is thoroughly Mexican. Carts serving tacos at all hours dot the streets, a truck selling Mexican sweet bread out the back passes through neighborhoods throughout the day and the city is starkly divided not by football teams, but by fútbol teams: los Rayados and los Tigres (I haven’t been here long enough to tell you which my personal favorite is, but I’ll keep you updated).

Monterrey is a bustling, friendly city that provides physical landmarks and natural landscapes to visitors and residents. During my semester abroad, I’ll give you a glimpse into this haven in the mountains, from local recipes and customs to museums and murals.

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