Vice: Ay caramba, look at you. Why did you decide to come all the way to London?
Monica: I left Mexico City with my parents due to my dad’s job and moved to the States for around two years. Then we moved to France, then to Geneva, and then my dad decided to go back and work in Mexico to help his homeland. What a hero! I was given the option of going back or going to study in the UK. I was 15 and I thought, yeah, why not? So I went to a small town in Essex, finished my college, and went to a foundation course in Cambridge. But I got bored and wanted to go to a big hectic grimy city, so I came to London and started at Goldsmiths University in September.
What did you think of London when you first arrived?
I arrived in New Cross, so the first thing I remember thinking was how annoying the pigeons were and how little respect they have for humans. I hated that and still haven’t come to terms with it, but I loved the diversity and cosmopolitan side of the city! I like the buzz it has, somewhat like Mexico City but without the good food.
Do you know any good Mexican restaurants in London? There are definitely a lot of shit ones.
I actually work in one! There is a good one in Covent Garden called Pacifico, and mine is called Cafe Sol in Greenwich. It’s not exactly Mexican food but it tastes good.
Do you find London is tame and safe compared to Mexico?
Not New Cross! New Cross is like Mexico City in many ways: men yelling and honking at anything that can be even vaguely classified as female.
Do you find English men are horrible pervs?
Men will be men! I walk around much more in London so therefore I notice it more. But the comments are definitely more original in Mexico!
Do you miss Mexico?
I miss my family and the food but I’ve moved around so much that I feel I can adapt well to other cities. It helps that London is so cosmopolitan: I’m a stranger in the middle of more strangers!
Do you think Mexico is portrayed badly in the UK?
When it’s portrayed like “fiesta fiesta arriba arriba,” it’s not so bad. But then it’s also portrayed as a place full of guns, drugs, and dirty people, which is completely ridiculous!
What about Mexico would you like to bring to London? Sunshine? Cheap beer?
Apart from myself, I would bring the chili candy, the sense of “fiesta,” and there is also a great sense of family in Mexico that I don’t find here—but I blame it on the weather!
INTERVIEW BY BRUNO BAYLEY
PHOTO BY BEN RAYNER