Studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain was one of my best experiences to date. When applying to travel overseas for the summer, I was unsure if I really wanted to go or if I just liked the idea of going. The reality of me leaving the United States for a whole month and being an eight-plus hour flight away from all of my family and, frankly, anyone I knew, didn’t entirely hit me until I landed in Madrid. I had never been this far away from home for so long by myself.
Even though I knew another student from Fairfield that was a part of the same program, I had never met her and felt incredibly alone. However, all of that changed the minute I met my señora, the woman who was kindly hosting me for the month. Although there was a huge language barrier because at the time I spoke very little Spanish and a lot of English, and Tere spoke no English and only Spanish, she made me feel right at home.
She explained that she had hosted students through the American Institute for Foreign Study for many years and loved doing it. The food that my señora made was exquisite and so different from any meals I have had here in the United States. Not only did I enhance my Spanish speaking skills, but I also strengthened my knowledge of Spanish culture. After all, there is only so much one can learn in the classroom.
While studying in Spain, I met so many different people from all over the world such as Dubai, France, Belgium, other parts of the USA and more. We all shared a desire to learn more Spanish and more about the Spanish culture which is what brought us all together. In our classes at the University of Salamanca, we could only speak in Spanish because that was mainly the most common language. Granted, many people spoke a bit of English, but not everyone! Many of the people I met in my courses quickly became my close friends. After class ended, we always went out to lunch or to various popular locations in Salamanca at night.
The classes at the University of Salamanca are tailored to you and your knowledge. Before getting your class assignments, you take a placement test, which directs you to the appropriate level based on your performance. I could not have been happier with my classes, for all of the lessons I took were perfect for me. While I was always learning new things, I understood what was going on (which is one of the essential qualities to have in classes, in my opinion).
Studying abroad and being “on my own” for five weeks in a foreign country was life-changing for me. Although it was such a short time, I am dying to go back. I learned so much about myself, my language learning skills, the Spanish culture and the other surrounding countries I visited. If you are even remotely thinking of studying abroad this summer in Salamanca, I could not encourage you more to go – it is so worth it!