Health and Safety
Universidad de Sagrado Corazon - San Juan, PR
Submitted by Julia Browne - | January 05, 2010
Academic quality: coming from the competitive atmosphere of Davidson college, my classes were really easy, even though they were all taught in Spanish. I took a mix of classes, mostly those that weren't offered at Davidson, include a Communications class, Oral Speaking, World Religions, Film and a Government class. Even though Spanish is my second language (at best), I didn't find the course load to be difficult as homework was minimal and tests/papers weren't lenghty. However, be sure to double-confirm with you school about credits before you choose your classes; my one spanish film class ended up not counting towards my major, as the level wasn't high enough. Nonetheless, all of my classes counted as credits towards graduation which was a plus.
Party atmosphere: Party life on campus was virutually non-existent given the stringent rules of dorm life. However, that didn't keep us from going out and having a good time. One of the huge pluses about this program was that it fully integrated us into Puerto Rican culture and with a group of barely 10 exchange students from all over the world, we quickly found the local hang outs. Santurce itself isn't the safest place to be wandering after dark, but plenty of places nearby that are a short cab or car ride away.
Living situation: I chose to live on campus in the dorms, as did most of the other exchange students. Best part was that they paired us with current students rather that housing us all together. Current Sagrado students can volunteer to live with an exchange program, which meant that roommates weren't completely random. My roommate, Janice, was wonderful - forced me to speak Spanish, brought me home multiple times to meet her family and fiance (now husband- their wedding was gorgeous)! My other exchange student friends had very similar experiences with their roommates, and for me it formed an instand friend group and connection to local life. However, dorm life is somewhat of a bubble, given that the Catholic school requires separate buildings for men and women, with curfews and "hang out rooms" on the first floor where the guys and girls can hang out together. Despite how that sounds, I rarely felt this was a burden because the curfews are reasonable and weekend rules are more flexible.
Cultural exposure: I can't say enough about this one - definitley top notch. I was looking for a program that would allow me to be be fully integrated as a student rather than a tourist in a foreign town for 6 months. Living on campus, taking classes on campus, joining the swim team, all allowed me full cultural integration to the point where I felt like a Puerto Rican college student.
Program administration: While some of my fellow exchange students had some problems with credit transfers and processing, I found the program administration to be supurb, far and above the regular university administration. Our program leader was very involved in our activities and daily life, by being a support system when we were homesick to organizing weekly field trips (optional but we all went). She also worked very closely with the Resident Advisor for the dorms, which was really important in my opinion.
Overall, I would highly recommend this program to anyone who wants to go to Puerto Rico (particularly if you like having some of the comforts of home, like working cell phones and some recognizable brand names in the grocery store). I will say, however, that you will need to make a concerted effort to break away from the other exchange students, but if you live on campus take advtange of the other students there and make friends.