Anyone who has visited Santa Clara knows of its beauty – immaculate rose gardens, arched pathways draped with wisteria, palm tree-lined courtyards, and the iconic Mission Church. I’m very fortunate. Attending SCU has warped my idea and expectations of a typical college campus. Needless to say, it’s not everyday that you hear visitors mistaking your university for a luxury resort.
In Sevilla, the participants in my abroad program attend la Universidad Pablo de Olavide (UPO). The Sevillanos are very proud of their public university, home to 10,000 students. Many universities in Europe lack a central campus – the UPO is an exception. The university, located on the outskirts of town, is a forty minute commute from Peppi’s apartment.
When I first arrived on campus, I wasn’t sure if I had disembarked the metro or a futuristic time capsule. Boom! I left the modern world at Nervión Station and was teleported to a high school frozen in the 80s. Open-air hallways, yellow brick, maroon lockers, and seam-foam green bathroom stalls. Retro with a capital “R”. In addition, landscaping at the UPO is almost as foreign as the international students. Dirt walkways connect the outdated buildings. The only hint of greenery comes from patches of weeds that sprout through the cracked concrete.
During our UPO orientation, the university’s international studies president welcomed the American students with an avant guard Powerpoint presentation. In her opening speech, she discussed two important university facts.
1. To dispel any rumors, the university is not and has never been, at any time in history, a prison or asylum.
2. Don’t be alarmed when you don’t find toilet paper in the bathroom.
Imperfection is beauty, right? I can’t complain – I’m in Spain. It’s all about the stories!