This week, we celebrate "Mexico Week" in honor of the University of Oklahoma's International Study Center in Puebla, Mexico. Each year, growing numbers of students choose to study abroad on summer, semester, and year-long programs in Puebla. Just a day trip away from Mexico City, the city of Puebla is known for its beautiful Spanish colonial-era center district, its historic churches and its world-renowned culinary scene. It also happens to be a mecca for college students. The city is home to a long list of prestigious universities, one of which is the private Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP), which partners with OU in Puebla to offer courses to study abroad students. This allows OUP students a dual experience: they can take Spanish-language courses alongside Mexican students as well as courses with OU in Puebla. It's the optimal balance of exciting cultural immersion and the comfort of a close-knit community.
With any study abroad program, safety is paramount — which is one of the many reasons OU chose Puebla as its home base in Mexico. Despite being the fourth-largest city in the country, Puebla is considered one of its safest, and has even won awards for public safety. Due to this, tourists have been flocking to the city in larger numbers, though students still tend to praise its down-to-earth, friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
The tourist are coming for good reason — Puebla manages to fly under the radar, yet offers something for everyone. At about 7,220 feet above sea level, it is situated in a breathtaking landscape with a spectacular view of the Popcatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl volcanoes. Puebla's Historic Centre dates back to the 16th century, when it became an influential center of commercial and cultural trade. Many of these buildings are adorned with Talavera — famous ceramic tiles made in the area — and the architecture throughout the Centre shows the city's evolution from the 16th through 19th centuries. Because of these features in addition to its well-preserved Cathedral and other churches, Puebla's Historic Centre was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city also boasts a thriving art scene (with a number of museums and galleries) and an exciting nightlife. A center for industry as well as culture — large companies such as Volkswagen and Audi are headquartered here — Puebla is also a good place for students in a variety of fields to pursue internships.
But there's one aspect of Puebla that stands above the rest, for students, tourists and residents alike: the food. Puebla is know as home to a proud culinary tradition and a staggering number of chefs and cooks. The late chef, author and television host Anthony Bourdain once wrote that "if there was a mandatory day of rest — or a public holiday for all Poblanos [the term for people from Puebla] — a lot of restaurants in America would have to close their doors." OU in Puebla hosts an annual summer program entitled "The Cuisine, Arts and Culture of Mexico," in which students learn about the food of the region, visit restaurants and meet local chefs. Some Puebla specialties include mole poblano, the most popular mole sauce, which originated here; the cemita, a meaty sandwich resembling a torta; and chiles en nogoda, a stuffed-and-fried poblano pepper garnished in the colors of the Mexican flag.
It's difficult to capture the vibrant nature of Puebla's community, culture and food in a simple blog post. But those who have studied abroad with OUP usually return with tales of enchanting sights, sounds and tastes, welcoming locals and experiences that with stay with them forever.
Would you like to study abroad with OU in Puebla and experience the city for yourself? Visit the Education Abroad website to begin your journey!