Aiden and Quinlan Vivar (19 and 21 years old) come from Tulsa, Oklahoma. They are two of the dozens of international students that we have this year at Colegio Mayor Larraona. You have probably seen them in our facilities or around the university’s campus, separately or together, as they have a very strong sibling bond. Although they speak English between them, they have a fairly good level of Spanish, since they came to our country three years ago, in 2019.
Aiden likes photography, “messing around” with his midi keyboard (making music and funny clips), playing chess, solving the Rubik cubes very fast, and going to the gym. Quin enjoys watching films, listening and playing Irish folk music with his octave mandolin. Keep reading to know more about this friendly pair of brothers.
Figuring out what to study
The brothers Vivar went to the School of Arts and Sciences in Tulsa until the moment they moved to Sevilla with their parents. “I went to the British School of Sevilla”, explains Aiden. “A-levels were very different from the American ones. Then, it was the confinement; the pandemic was a difficult time”. After finishing high school, the youngest brother took a gap year. “It was definitely helpful. I got a job as a baker and saved up some money, and while I worked, I figured out what I wanted to study. I originally wanted to be an engineer, then an architect, and finally, I found Design a lot more interesting”.
Quin arrived in Andalucía already knowing what to study, but he hadn’t made the right university choice yet. “I found out I was interested in History as a kid”, relates Quin. “When I came to Spain for the first time, in 2016, I remember being in a castle in Oviedo, Asturias, and thinking: I’m in a real place that’s actually ancient, and I can see the work that people did in the building. That’s how I got interested in material history”.
He started to study Archeology in the University of Sevilla, but he felt he didn’t have the adequate level of Spanish. He attended the university for a semester and then started studying in a British online university. “This time it was in English, but we didn’t have lectures. They just sent us the reading material, so it wasn’t very motivating. I didn’t continue there, either”.
The life in Pamplona’s American-style campus
Now Aiden studies the Design’s degree of the University of Navarre, and Quin does History with Archeology diploma. Both degrees combine subjects in English and in Spanish.
“A couple of years ago, we came to Pamplona and took a tour. We really liked it. It has an American-style feeling, the whole campus is in one place. And teachers seemed very devoted, that’s refreshing”, states Aiden. “This is the best university experience I’ve had”, agrees Quin. “One of the things that drew me here is the campus, it’s like a small community. On top of that, when we were having the visit, I had an introductory conversation with two third-year students from Archeology, and they were very welcoming. I thought: ‘Here they have a supportive academic community’.”
Although they are happy with their choice, the academic life is challenging. “I don’t have a lot of spare time here. In Design the workload is very high, we have a lot of homework and projects to do. But I do like the topics of the subjects. If I had to put myself into a dream job, probably it would be furniture design, which could lead to interior design”.
“I suppose we are going to study specially the Pre-history period, since in the north of the country there’s a lot of interesting stuff in that regard. Personally, most of my interests go from Pre-history to Middle Ages, from about any part of the world. In Sevilla, walking past the cathedral every day, I started to get an appreciation of the cathedral, of gothic architecture and of churches in general. In the States, all of them are white wooden buildings. Here you can see craftsmanship, stonework…”
Adaptation to Spain
There are obvious differences between our country and theirs, but they seem to really like our culture and our lifestyle. “It seems calmer. There is no rush. In America you have constantly to be doing something: eating, driving… Spain is very walkable”, points out Aiden. “I don’t think I’ve ever been happier than I’m here in Spain. Wherever you go you’ll have problems, and it’s always difficult to adapt to a different culture, but I think that here the way of life makes more sense. If you go to the States, there’s a lot of people that focus their entire life on just getting into a better place, a better job. Here I see people just enjoying their life where they are”.
The adaption was fairly quick for them, they made friends right away and they enjoy the food we eat in Spain, and in the Colegio Mayor.
“It’s really nice”, says Aiden. “I cannot emphasize how different it’s to have real bread and actual olive oil”, adds Quin. “Before coming to Spain, I didn’t know why people put olive oil in salads. Here I discovered that it has flavor, a nice texture… and that is not just yellow liquid, as it tends to be in the States. The basics are good, that’s the important thing, to have real cheese, vegetables… That’s what I really like about being here”.
“It has been a smooth transition”, confirms Aiden.
First weeks in Larraona
Mr. and Mrs. Vivar were looking for a Colegio Mayor for their children, and they found Colegio Mayor Larraona, which they liked because of our closeness to campus and our way of doing things. “I’ve made lots of friends, Spanish, and English, and it feels like a nice community”, acknowledges Aiden. Quin has also made English friends easily, and claims that he is starting to make more Spanish-speaking friends. “I think me and my brother, whenever we go to a new place, we subconsciously try to chatter in English a bit loud, so if there’s someone else who speaks English, he’ll join us”.
Although each of them has their own personal life, they like to spend time together. “We thought after school we’d had to go separate ways, but as soon as we found that the University of Navarre had degrees that suited both of us, we decided to come, as we wanted to be together”, confesses Quin. “The relationship with my brother is very strong. I’d say, in general, I got very lucky with my family. I really like my parents, I like to spend time with them, and I think they did a decent job raising us up. If my brother and I weren’t related, I think we would still be best friends”. “Me and my brother are very close”, coincides Aiden. “We always get along. He is a good guy, always has been”.