The University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus (or La IUPI) is unique and one of the best academic institutions in Puerto Rico. Congratulations on being part of this fine system of beautifully intellectual people! So, whether you’re a freshman that is up for the whole university experience, or a student soon to graduate and want to wind up your academic journey with your last adventures on campus, you can enrich your days as a college student from La IUPI, by doing some, or all, of these things.
Disclaimer: Due to COVID-19 the following list can be done once in-person classes resume and if these experiences still exist.
- Watch a play in the Julia de Burgos theater
The Julia de Burgos theater is a stunning and vintage structural work of art at the College of Humanities. For upcoming plays, you can communicate with the Drama Department or stop by to look at any bulletin boards around campus, especially in Humanities, where you will probably find a bunch of overly stapled flyers and announcements. It’s a unique cultural experience you do not want to miss out on, and students usually get great discounts!
- Study (or just visit) in every library of every college and school
Every college has its library. Have you been to all of them? As a student, you’ve probably had a study session in the main library, La Lázaro (as we like to call it), or walked through it as a shortcut to or from the College of Social Sciences. But there are so much more, whether it is a college or random library just hiding from plain sight. My personal favorites were the Law School library (it’s funeral silence in there), the General Studies main library (R.I.P.), and the study rooms in ERA (Ernesto Ramos Antonini building from the General Studies faculty). I encourage you to look for your top libraries on-campus and find hidden study gems.
- Go to las Justas
Sports fan or not, las Justas is the optimal experience to cheer for your university and stand tall and proud to be a Gallito or Jerezana. Though las Justas are celebrated on the other side of the Island in our friendly (and rival) UPR Mayagüez or UPR Ponce, it’s something you have to go to at least once. Get some friends together and make a trip out of it!
- Eat at Avenida Universidad
Whether it’s El Ocho de Blanco, El Vidy’s, Arrope, Los Monkeys, and more, you gotta venture off to eat at any restaurant at Avenida Universidad. It’s basically populated by students, especially from Mondays to Thursdays. Need a caffeine boost? Arrope serves the best coffee and some nice lunch specials. El Ocho de Blanco has great pasta and burgers, and a vibrant taste in music, while Los Monkeys with its pop art walls and tasty tripletas is a mood alone, and El Vidy’s criollo food is just yum! Anywhere in Avenida Universidad is totally worth it!
- Become part of a student organization
*coughs* Her Campus! *coughs*
But seriously, there are a bunch of student organizations to suit your style and personality. Every department has its own clubs, so ask in your department. There’s also the student organization fairs where you can have an initial and proper orientation of the myriad organizations you can choose from. For instance, since I’m an English Major, I know that there’s the English Major Association (EMA) and there’s also two literary magazines, Tonguas and Sargasso, that you could submit your work to when they call for papers. And of course, there’s the beautiful and professional Her Campus UPR community, an organization for writers, editors, social media enthusiasts and more, accepting students from all majors. Do your research! Chances are that you’ll find an organization where you belong.
- Get on board "el troli"
Students like to call the university’s transportation system el troli, referring to the red and white van that stops around specific spots on campus. While it is better to get those legs moving for a boost to your physical health, el troli could really save you some time to get to class, especially if you’re running late. I encourage you to get on board for no particular reason, as well. If you have the afternoon for yourself, hop on el troli. Who knows, you might even crack up a conversation with the driver.
- Visit the UPR Art Museum
Yes, it’s that white building between the train station and the Lázaro library that you typically ignore. Museums are so enriching! Did you know that that museum held El Velorio de Oyer for a couple of years and that it even showcased a mummy?! Who knows what they have on display now. If you’re free, you should totally check it out.
- Listen to La Tuna live
Our university has two of these fantastic medieval, musical agrupations: Tuna UPR and Tuna Bardos. Both are completely remarkable. Tuna UPR has made history on its own with the legendary Gregorio "Goyo" Acevedo who directed the agrupation for 44 years and received the Honoris Causa from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. Also the Tuna UPR became the first Tuna to have both female and male musicians in Puerto Rico and America. As for Tuna Bardos, also an elite group, has been the most awarded Tuna in Puerto Rico and they even have their own Spotify account. Witnessing these performances is an enriching and entertaining experience you do not want to miss.
- Study abroad
If you have the means, you must! Studying abroad is an eye-opening and independent experience that you’ll never forget. UPRRP has affiliated universities in Latin America, Europe, and the United States—Europe being the most popular destination among students, especially Spain. You can choose to study over the summer, a semester, or a whole year. I encourage you to seek discomfort and to have the courage to lose sight of your shores. You will make friends, learn, and grow. Get a proper orientation at Asuntos Internacionales in regard to destinations, financial aid, and requirements.
- Go to a student assembly
Student assemblies are important to keep you updated with issues regarding the university and it gives you, as a student, the opportunity to speak up about issues that are important to you. Student assemblies can get a bit fired up, but they are handled professionally and are pertinent to everyone. You should go to at least one, to have a glimpse of the process and to exercise your right to vote.
- Go to a "jueves social" at Avenida Universidad
Thursday night in Avenida Universidad is for those who want to grab a couple of beers and relax or let loose and have fun. The week is winding down to an end, the bars are open, and the students are feeling alive. The hit bars are usually El Vidy’s and El Ocho de Blanco, but any stop around there is great to tag along with a couple of friends, drink (safely!), and have a good time.
- Buy from “la tiendita”
"La tiendita" is located in El Centro Universitario, or the student center, and they have just about everything: clothing, t-shirts, hoodies, varsity jackets, sweat wear, pants, water bottles, mugs, bags, umbrellas, notebooks, pendants, keychains, headwear, and more! Also, they sell calculators, lab coats, folders, and basically any school supply that you might need in case you forgot. Having at least one item emblematic of your alma mater is a token of your memories and growth.
- Take a picture in front of La Torre
Bonus points if you take your picture in front of the Yo <3 IUPI sculpture. It might be a bit corny or embarrassing to do it at first, but let’s be honest, La Torre is beautiful and it is the symbol of the university, along with the rooster. You’ll be surprised with how many students have taken their picture in front of the sculpture, so go ahead, you won’t be judged.
- Print at UPRINT
If you didn’t know it existed, now you do. In the metro station, below ground, there is a printing station for students. The process is quick, the payment is student-friendly, and it can be a life saver. You don’t run the risk of prints coming out faulty, as you would printing in libraries on campus, and it’s simply easy breezy.
- Go to the libraries in Río Piedras
If you ever took a class in La IUPI, chances are that a professor sent you to buy the course’s text in the Río Piedras libraries, especially La Norberto. Río Piedras’s libraries are the go-to place for students who need to buy books for their classes, everything is always around there. If not in La Norberto then in La Librería Mágica, if not there, then in University Books, or others. These are all at walking distance from the university and you can honestly go without a book in mind, they are libraries after all, and you might find something that you like.
The university experience is boundless and every college encourages experiences of their own. I encourage you to fill your university days with more than just warming up a desk and counting the minutes until you go back home. Create memories, make friends, and explore your campus! It is said that college years are the best years of your life, so make them count.