Meet the Foreign Exchange Students!

Meet this week's CAAMpus Celebrities, the exchange students who came to UPRM through the International Exchange Network (IEN), a program within the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) alongside the Office of Student Exchanges. The students are taken care of by the members of SHPE’s IEN, starting two months before their arrival on the island. The students receive a ‘buddy’ from SPHE and are shown the ropes at Colegio.  They now open up to Her Campus UPRM to tell us about their experience in Puerto Rico.  

Erik Ibaira Gabaldón

26 years old

Physical Education

Monterrey, Mexico

Arturo Lecumberri

23 years old

Industrial Engineering

Madrid, Spain

Iñaki Enredo Muñoz de la Peña

21 years old

Electrical Engineering

Madrid, Spain

Gibrán Jair Balderas Salais

26 years old

Physical Education

Monterrey, Mexico 

Alex Lokken

21 years old


Arizona, USA

Irvin Morales

23 years old

Physical Education

Monterrey, Mexico

What do you miss the most from your hometown?

            Arturo: “The food, the family, my people.”

            Irvin: "The food and my family.”

            Gibrán: “The food is more expensive than in Mexico and there’s less variety in vegetables and that type of stuff.”

Why did you decide to attend UPRM?

            Arturo: “The climate, also, I find many similarities in our culture (Spanish) and yours.”

            Irvin: “It was definitely a different experience than what we are used to; the climate, the life style, and a change in culture. It’s an experience you have to live, where I’m from there aren’t beaches, it isn’t a climate like here in the Caribbean; it knew it was going to be a nice experience.”

            Gibrán: “Mostly because the Master’s degree program that we were in [in Mexico] didn’t have many options to choose from. To come to a country in the Caribbean, to know the Caribbean and Latin American culture, be in a place full of beaches, an island, to know other places, it was a good experience I wanted to have.”

            Iñaki: “Mostly I wanted to have the experience of being in an exchange program, to live alone for a year and sharing an apartment. I also liked the weather. I wanted to know the Caribbean’s people.”

            Alex: “I chose Puerto Rico because in my mind it’s like an extension of the US and I wanted to see the differences and influences from the US to Puerto Rico. Also, the climate and the beaches, because I’m from Arizona and we don’t have that type of stuff over there."

What’s a memory you’re going take back home with you?

            Alex: “I won’t forget the beaches and the different types of dancing from the US. The food here is really good and the people are very hospitable, everyone is so welcoming, and even if you don’t speak Spanish very well people help you out in English if you really get lost and stuff like that.”

            Irvin: “Definitely what I’m going to remember the most is how well we were treated here by the people that were in charge of us. The truth is we got to visit a lot of places thanks to them, like El Yunque, various beaches, the nightlife here; it was a very beautiful experience”

            Iñaki: “What I’m most going to miss are the beaches, the climate where it’s warm all year around, unlike Madrid where we have very marked seasons. I’ve really liked the typical food here, the culture, the women, and the people in general are very nice.”

            Gibrán: “Just like my buddies have said, we’re going to miss the puertorrican culture, the way they talk, the beauty of their women, the places, the beaches, the mountains, the cascades; places that are very impressive.  Most of all meeting new places that are unfamiliar to you, it’s been a great experience.”

            Arturo: “I’m going to miss ‘La Ricomini’ and the ice creams from ‘Rex Cream.’ I’m also going to miss the price of gas, because it’s so expensive in Spain; but mostly the typical stuff like the beaches, ‘el arroz con habichuelas’, the climate.”

            Erik: “I’m going to miss ‘La Malta,’ Marshalls, and the university.”

What are some differences between Puerto Rico and where you’re from?

            Alex: “One of the biggest differences between the US and PR is that in the US the weekend, (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), are usually the hang-out time, but here it’s always strictly Thursday night. Oh, and Halloween, it was crazy, very different from the US. The streets were full, while in the US it’s little parties of like thirty people; here it’s the whole street. That was incredible."

            Iñaki: “For me it’s been very different celebrating Thanksgiving, since in Spain we’ve never celebrated it and here, like the US, they celebrate it religiously every year. All of us international students went to eat on Thanksgiving and it was very cool.”

            Arturo: “That bars close at 2 am, in Spain we go to sleep after we eat breakfast.”

Would you come back to Puerto Rico if you had the chance? Why?

            Erik: “I’d come back but I feel Puerto Rico, or at least Mayagüez, is more for the youth. It’d be nice to come back with my family and travel to more places around the island.”

            Irvin: “Definitely if I had the opportunity I’d come back here again, I feel that I didn’t experience everything Puerto Rico had to offer this semester. I’d love to come back and experience everything I couldn’t do.”

            Alex: "I definitely plan on coming back to Puerto Rico very soon on vacations, just to visit some of the friends I’ve made down here. I had such an awesome time and everyone is so hospitable and cool. Even though I came here as a blond with blue eyes and stuck out as a sore thumb, no one treated me any different and everyone took care of me. Also, I’d like to come back down to find my Puerto Rican princess.” 

As a foreigner, what do you think we could better here in Puerto Rico?

            Arturo: "Public transportation is almost inexistent here, to come here from the airport in San Juan you’d have to take a very expensive taxi or La Sultana; also, the prices of fruits in the market."

            Alex: "The only thing I’d change would be the Internet service, the price of milk, and public transportation. Other than those three things Puerto Rico is awesome."

What do you think of Puerto Rican women?

            Gibrán: "I think that the Puerto Rican women are very beautiful, have a great good body, a beautiful face, and are polite and friendly. The way they talk is very sexy, it would be perfect if there were Puerto Rican women all over the world."

            Alex: "Before coming to Puerto Rico I wasn’t really in to girls with dark hair or dark eyes, but being here totally changed my opinion; now I’m the other way around. Puerto Rican girls are very good looking."

            Irvin: "They are very charismatic and treat people very well; the fact that they smile at you if you cross them on the street is something that stood out to me."

            Erik: "They’re different from Mexican women, they always smile at you and are always very polite. Something different I experience with a friend was that in Mexico, no matter the hour if you are interested in a girl you go at any time to see her, but here you can’t do that because they get offended. In Mexico the more noise you make the better, here it’s offensive to them; they want to be respected. They are very different not only physically, but also personality wise."

        We'd like to thank Stephanie 'Fefi' Ortiz for giving us the opportunity to conduct this interview