Location: Salamanca, Spain
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Major: Media Arts and Science
School: School of Informatics and Computing
Program Name: Salamanca Summer Program
Studying abroad helped me gain a much broader understanding of the world. I appreciated being able to experience firsthand life in another country and learn how different other cultures can be.
How did the study abroad program fit with your required coursework?
I'm minoring in Spanish, and this program provided the 300-level credits required for the minor. I had taken Spanish courses during my freshman and sophomore years, and participating in this program got me the last credits that I need to complete my minor.
Initial Thoughts on Arrival
What struck me first about Spain was how old the architecture looked. It was surreal to be going to a university that is more than twice as old as the United States. The city of Salamanca had such an impressive design that really made me feel like I was in a different place, and I was consistently amazed by the beauty of the country as a whole.
I stayed with a host family in Salamanca and had one roommate from IU who was also participating in this program. My host family was a great way to learn about the city and culture, and speaking with them on a daily basis tremendously improved my Spanish skills. They were very experienced, having hosted students for 40 years, so I felt very well taken care of during my time in their household.
I attended the University of Salamanca and took three courses during the six-week program. There was a grammar course, a culture course, and a conversation/writing course. I really liked all of my professors; they made my learning experience very fun while being incredibly educational.
If you want to travel during the weekends, definitely plan to spend a majority of your money during those weekends. Travel doesn't cost all that much, but when you have to pay for a place to stay as well as meals for a whole weekend, it can add up. Try not to go out to eat very much during the week, as you are turning down free meals from your host family.
Leisure & Travel
The program was in Salamanca, which is in the Castilla y León community of Spain. The University of Salamanca offered weekend trips that included guided tours, but you can also plan your own weekend trips. I went to Andalucía through the university one weekend, touring the cities Seville and Granada. Another weekend I went to Porto, Portugal as an independent trip with many of the other IU students.
What was it like talking and interacting with the local population?
At first, it's very nerve-wracking to be thrown into a country where English isn't the native language. Having a host family really helped me get accustomed to speaking Spanish all of the time, and it soon becomes natural to go to a little shop to buy ice cream or tell a taxi driver where you need to go.
Spain's lifestyle and culture is much different than the United States and even most other European countries. They eat lunch and dinner much later than we do, and of course take a siesta every day after lunch. It took a little bit to get used to this different schedule, but it definitely made me realize that it was just as viable of a way to live as the schedule we are used to in the United States.
I highly recommend studying abroad to anyone who is remotely interested. I would say to be prepared to try a lot of new things in Spain and to research as much about the culture as possible before going. You will probably spend more money than you plan to, so just keep that in mind when thinking about budgeting for the program.
When starting college, I made sure that I would absolutely study abroad before I graduate. You always hear people say they wish they studied abroad while they have the chance, so make sure you aren't saying that in the future! As cliché as it may sound, living in another country for an extended amount of time really is a life changing experience. If you have the chance to study abroad, don't let it pass you by.
Effect on Career Goals
While Spanish doesn't directly tie into my career plan, I definitely have a much greater interest in incorporating Spanish into my future. I'm much more confident in my speaking and understanding of the language and want to make sure that I put that to use in my future.