Program alumni are the best resources for students interested in studying away, and they are available to answer your questions. If you would like to talk to a recent student about their experience in Puerto Rico, get in touch with the advisor, Alessandra Capossela

Student in a basecall cap smiling on the beach

Teddy Parkinson, Middlebury College, Mayagüez

I lived in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, and attended the local University of Puerto Rico campus there (aka El Colegio). My experience there, like any study abroad experience, came with plenty of surprises (Where is everyone on the weekends? Home. Why are there so many people wearing jeans in this HEAT?) but overall was resoundingly positive. 

From the second I left the airport, the Middlebury staff made me feel welcome and supported in my new home, helping me get settled into my apartment, giving me a tour of the campus, and even taking me snorkeling in Rincón. 

When classes started, the Exchange Student Support Association (ESSA) provided me with an instant group of local friends and introduced me to other international students. The organization ran excursions every two weeks throughout the semester and took us all over the island, including to the beautiful little island of Culebra at the end of the semester!

Over my study abroad semester, I had my own apartment and had to cook for myself for the first time. I discovered that I actually really love to cook (turns out I’m a no-recipe sort of chef). I made friends from many countries (Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Colombia, Honduras, etc.) and explored the mountainous center of the island through my geology internship with SLIDES-PR: a university organization investigating and tracking land sliding in Puerto Rico.

I learned about the rich culture of the island, met wonderful people, and had too many adventures to possibly describe here. I’m so grateful for my experience and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Student smiling in front of the Puerto Rican flag

Nick Paneto, Middlebury College, San Juan

Enamored, captivated, and charmed – my glance studies the Santurce streets of “la isla del encanto” like it’s the first time on the walk we managed to make almost every day from La Universidad del Sagrado Corazón to the beach. Only a hop, skip, and several kioskos (home to various frituras) away, Playa Ocean Park became our carefree haven as we were remembered by our discernible footprints in the sand and our glistening sun kissed skin. From January until May, sunrise until sunset, the beach coached us through our “professional” volleyball tournaments, supported my running career, kept hush about the countless times we cheated in Uno or Scala Quaranta, and witnessed us study hard and relax harder absorbing all that Puerto Rico had to offer. Although the serendipity and multiplicity of its beaches are inviting it would be wrong to typecast Puerto Rico as exclusively a “Caribbean island beach resort.” 

Turquoise waters and Viejo San Juan, yet the evergreen mountain ranges rise and fall like a scatterplot from coast to coast; sugar cane and reggaeton, yet the dulce cariño of the boricuas amables is sweeter than sugar – Puerto Rico is a land where its beaches are as precious and valued as its people and culture. Where the Puerto Rican flag is a marvel whether it is waving in the sand or hanging from your car, there is no such thing as being too patriotic because Puerto Rican pride is at another level. My memories glimmer with experiences only my first-year persona dreamt about; these dreams were realized courtesy of the Middlebury School in Puerto Rico. This is the land where we drove from Cabo Rojo to Humacao, and Yabacoa to Aguadilla, just shy of the 78 municipalities that I was able to reach with my very own hands behind the wheel. I was able to climb the trees to retrieve coconuts from Carolina, collect mangos from Mayagüez, shell tamarindo from Toa Alta, and jump from the cliffs of Charco Azul. This is the land where I discovered the Puerto Rico advertised on the laminated hallmark postcard, the Puerto Rico where my aunties and uncles grew up, and the jewel of the Caribbean treasured with historic artifacts of a rich history. Where happiness can exist as fritura and a Medalla in hand, la familia en el balcon, or a simple side of mayoketchup, and where any given day of the week had a jangueo that needed patrons: this is Puerto Rico.