NYU and Cornell University Logos, in the middle photos of Claudia Rodríguez and Andrea Valdes.

As everyone who experienced it knows, Hurricane María left a nasty scar on the island and its residents. The uncertainty of when life would go back to normal was looming over everyone’s head. However, in the most trying of times, the universe’s generosity shines through. For University students, this came with the opportunity to study abroad at well-known and highly regarded universities such as: NYU, Brown, Tulane, Cornell etc. The students who embarked on this journey were able to experience a whole semester at these universities and have brought with them their knowledge and motivation to continue their hard work. This article will feature two of these experiences: Claudia Rodríguez at New York University (NYU) and Andrea Valdés at Cornell University.

A group of NYU students sitting on a couch, with UPRM student Claudia Rodriguez laying on their laps

Claudia Rodríguez (Middle, pink shirt) and the members of UP

Claudia Rodríguez, a linguistics track student in our department, was accepted to attend NYU. There she had access to their complete roster of classes, and she took quite a variety of them, from Creative Writing and Korean, to a unique course on “The Science of Happiness.” Claudia also made use of NYU’s many extracurricular activities such as: k-pop dance classes and University Hall Parliament (UP). UP opened doors for her to make friends, with which she had many wonderful experiences in and out of the university. Claudia expresses her gratitude for this opportunity below.

I want to thank the English Department for this opportunity. If it wasn’t for the link that was posted on their Facebook page, I would have never been able to even think about applying to NYU. I also want to thank NYU and all the coordinators who made this program possible. NYU took us in at a time of inner turmoil and wondering what was going to happen after the hurricane. NYU gave us a home, fed us, and made us feel safe while being able to continue our studies. This program was a great experience made possible by both UPRM and NYU, and I am immensely grateful for it.

A group of students standing at the Cornell Hockey Rink

Andrea Valdés (third from the right) at the Cornell Hockey rink

The English department’s very own student representative, Andrea Valdés, spent her semester at Cornell University. As a literature major, she was able to make use of their varied courses and further expand her knowledge with courses such as: New Latinx Writing and Introduction to Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. While at Cornell, Andrea made new friends and had wonderful experiences, such as exploring New York, and visiting Niagara Falls. It wasn’t all fun and games, however, Andrea and her fellow Puerto Rican exchange students became ambassadors for the country. They held panels speaking out about Puerto Rico and what it was like to live in the post-María stricken nation. After an unforgettable semester and thinking back on her time there, this is what Andrea had to say.

Being out there made me realize how much we do here in spite of our circumstances. At Cornell, students have huge libraries, a well-funded amount of databases, and opportunities galore to succeed. For the English program in particular, it made me reflect on how behind the UPRM curriculum is in terms of offering new and exciting electives to students each year due to curricular or economic stoppages. I love how together our community is since we’re so small, and the difference in size was definitely felt. Also, the emphasis Cornellian professors and students put on research and future prospects is something else.

Now, Claudia and Andrea have returned, and are continuing their studies here at UPRM with all the more knowledge to share with all of their peers. Many other students were able to embark on similar adventures to Universities all over the United States, and they will also share their experiences through this platform.