Location: Salamanca, Spain
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Term Abroad: Summer 2017
What's your best memory from your time abroad?
My best memory from studying abroad was the night before returning back to the US, we had a huge group dinner at a really nice restaurant. We went into the trip as complete strangers and left as a group of best friends. The dinner was really nice and long, which is very typical in Spain. We all talked, laughed, and reflected on our time together. It was so nice to spend the last night at such a nice restaurant with the people I went to the other side of the world with. We now share a special bond.
What was your first impression of studying abroad/initial thoughts on arrival?
My initial thoughts were: I can do this, I’ve been studying Spanish for a while, and then I heard a lot of locals speak Spanish, and I was a little intimidated. I took a deep breath and remembered why I came; to immerse myself and learn the language, two of the many things I accomplished while studying abroad.
What do you think you gained from studying abroad?
I gained a sense of independence and worldview while I was studying abroad. When you are so far away from your friends and family, you really have to adjust to spending more time alone. I usually do not like to be alone, but this trip changed that aspect about me. I spent a lot of time alone in airports, buses, trains, walking, and exploring. It gives you time to learn about yourself and discover your likes and interests without anyone there to persuade you otherwise.
What advice would you give to other students thinking about studying abroad?
To other people thinking about studying abroad, you have to do it. It is a once in a life time experience. You leave your normal American life for the summer and immerse yourself into a completely different culture. You learn how to be independent and problem solve in a whole new way. You will meet so many amazing people on the way and make memories that you will keep with you for the rest of your life.
What type of housing did you stay in?
I stayed with a family in Salamanca, which I highly recommend because it’s the best way to learn Spanish and be a part of the culture. I had a roommate who quickly turned into a great friend. We each had our own bed, closet space, and a desk to share. Most places in Europe don’t have air conditioning, which I didn’t mind. We had a balcony with a nice view and breeze. We also had a bathroom to share. The family provides you with three meals a day, all authentic to Spain. My roommate and I always played a game before dinner, we called it “guess that meal”. As dinner was being prepared we would always try to guess what it would be based on the smell and the sounds from the kitchen. It was a great joke between the two of us. Staying with a family made me feel like a true Spaniard.
What type of additional traveling did you do? How did you go about it?
On the weekends I did tons of traveling. I visited Portugal, Germany, Paris, Italy, London, and tons of towns throughout Spain. In some cities, I had friends from previous traveling, so I went alone and stayed with my friends and their families. On other trips, I went with people from our IU group. If you are looking to stay more local and explore Spain, the school has trips planned on the weekends that are decently priced. With the school trips you get a tour guide, free entrances into sites, a hotel/hostel, and food.