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Oaxaca, Mexico

study abroad program, Spring 2012 as seen through the lens and pen of Sara Marquardt

flight to Oaxaca: January 16, 2012

Before I left Minneapolis to fly to Oaxaca, I didn’t know what to expect. All I really knew for sure was that Oaxaca was going to be different from anywhere I had ever lived before. I was excited about that, but uncertain what “different” would look like. I did my best to keep an open mind and minimize what my expectations were. There were so many unknowns, and I tried to remain at peace about that. I packed fairly light: all of my clothes and architecture supplies fit in one Osprey Backpack and a large purse as a carry-on. Early on I learned that I had forgotten to buy and bring some essential architecture supplies that were not readily available in Oaxaca. This made me panic during the first week of the program. But by the time I really needed those tools, my studio had developed a communal mentality, sharing what we had brought with one another. The frustrating part about the communal sharing of tools was that occasionally you did lose a ruler, pencil, or something of the like. The wonderful thing was that you were not out of luck if you had forgotten to bring something.

the Zocalo, Oaxaca

Sara and Sam

Lauren and Travis

the Zocalo, Oaxaca

“The Point”

(L -> R) Joe, Travis, Katie, Tom, Poom, Sara, Holly, Collin, Lauren, & Sam

Santo Domingo

mass on Palm Sunday

Instituto de Cultural [our school]

The studio culture our group formed was a very special part of the experience. There were seventeen of us, and we became family. We worked collaboratively, using each other as resources at all hours of the day/night. And in the moments when I needed support, I was overwhelmed by the love my friends showed me. Our professor, Lance Lavine, did the same. Professor Lavine not only invested in our development as students but also took the time to get to know us as people.

Sara and Sam inside a leaf

Instituto de Cultural [our school]

Collin being pulled by Travis on a fallen branch

“Taking a siesta� was a new concept for me. In the heat of the day, typically between 2 and 4, the whole city shuts down. Shop owners go for lunch, workers roam the parks, and adolescent teenagers take that time to publically display their affections. t was a really beautiful thing to be a part of a culture that takes a moment to breath and moves a little slower all together.

(top left) Spanish class, final day

Don’t make functional: that will kill you. -Lance

This was supposed to be fun!

studio life

Joe, speaking grudgingly about modeling

Floor, Wall, & Roof final project

This is the second time I’ve measured a bathroom on this trip.

studio life


final drawings for Soledad proposal

final project group Cody (left), Sara, and Tyler (right)

Juanito, RIP our studio pet for three days

(Top R) Katie (Mid R) Sara (Top L) Sam (Bottom) Juanito

Home Life La Casa de la Tia, Calle de 5 de Mayo

We can’t control everything, but we can control ourselves. Sara, speaking of being late to class as a collective whole

(L->R) Sam, Holly, Alyssa, Lauren, Sara

Birthday Celebrations

(above) Sara, Lauren, Poom, Alyssa, Katie, Sam, Allison, & Holly

Cody, Katie, Matt, and Tom

“I’m developing an opinion as we speak. It’s kind of exciting actually.” -Vincent, guest critic from VJAA

Street Level

Oaxaca is a place that will forever remain close to my heart. The city is rich with color and warmth—both in a literal sense and inter-personally. In the historical center of the city, where we lived, the building style is uniformly traditional: stucco façade over stone and brick construction, rarely more than two stories tall. To me, the best part of these stucco buildings was the vibrant colors that building owners chose to paint their exterior. No building was ever simply white and no two buildings were painted exactly the same. Each building was nestled into its neighbor and came right up to the sidewalk. We had to laugh because some of the sidewalks were so narrow that it felt as if the building was spilling over onto the street.

Street Level

The people of Oaxaca took every opportunity to celebrate. If there was no reason to have a parade one week, it seemed that they made up a reason to do so. I saw one parade for “National Water Day,� another for a political cause, and a huge processional for Good Friday, to name just a few. When there is a wedding, the family hires a band and people to spin around with double-life-size puppets for the groom and bride. The family all gathers outside the church and in the street passing around bottles of mescal.

The Alcala

I loved the Mexican normalcy of celebrating.

Centro Academico y Cultural San Pablo

Soledad Plaza


I have a hang over from Architecture. Andy

El Olivo “beer bar”

Andy and Sam

Final Meal at our lunch place, Maria Bonita

Fernando, owner of Maria Bonita

Holly, Sam, Tyler, Collin, Travis, Lauren, Tom, Cody, Allison, Tori, Katie, Andy Joe, Alyssa, Matt Sara

Granen Perua

“Daniel, is this a courtyard?” Matt “For me, yes. For Lance, no. Renata, she doesn’t care.” Daniel

Puerto Escondito, Oaxaca, MX

Puerto Escondito, Oaxaca, MX

(Top R) Sam

Puerto Escondito, Oaxaca, MX

Holly and Joe

Tule Tree

San Jeronimo Tlacochahuaya, Oaxaca

Joe sketching

(L) Sara sketching (R) Sam sketching



Lauren and Katie

Mayan Site


Katie, Joe, Sam, and Tyler


Monte Alban

Sam, Poom, Holly, Joe, Katie, Matt, Travis, Tyler, Collin, Alyssa, Sara

Neal and Sara

Paper Factory museum in san Agustin Etla

Santiago Apoala

Andy, Matt, Tyler, Katie, Tom, Alyssa, Tori, Collin, Sam, Holly, Lauren, Allison, Cody, Travis, Sara

Anthropology Museum



four million bats coming out of a cave at dusk




(above) Sara (below) Collin

San Cristobal

Sumidero Canyon

crocodiles on the riverbank

Mexico City Site Seeing


cathedral at the Zocalo

Mexico City Site Seeing


Diego Riviera murels at the National Palace

Mexico City Site Seeing

Post Office

Art Museum

Mexico City Site Seeing

Revolution Monument

Katie, Holly, Sara



Mexico City Site Seeing

UNAM campus

Mexico City Site Seeing

Olympic Stadium

Contemporary Art Museum

Flight to Minneapolis: May 8, 2012

Sara, you have the potential to be a good architect. You’re sensitive, you’re smart. I’m trying to save you from the intellectuals. -Lance

Oaxaca Study Abroad 2012  

Snapshots and sketches from University of Minnesota's study abroad trip to Oaxaca in Spring 2012. Assembled by Sara Marquardt

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