I’ve written a lot about my travels away from Salamanca on the weekends, but having a home base in this city is very important for my experience. We were told when we arrived that we have to be careful if we were planning on traveling every weekend because we are here to immerse ourselves specifically in the culture of Salamanca, so it’s okay to stick around sometimes. During orientation we were also given ideas about how we can get involved while we’re here.
IES provides activities every month that we can attend if we wish. Many of these are cultural activities such as flamenco and salsa dance classes, paella night, and next week I’m going to a cooking class to learn how to make traditional Spanish food when I’m home! My favorite events (and the ones that are most attended) are the ones that include free food.
IES has also hosted two “intercambio” events, one of which I could attend. “Intercambio” means exchange, so these events are essentially language exchanges. American students from IES come to speak with university students in English, and then we switch off and speak in Spanish. I don’t have pictures of the people from the event, but I did make sure to snap a photo of the food.
In addition to intercambio nights hosted by IES, we have the opportunity to sign up for one-on-one intercambios. I put my name, age, and email onto the University of Salamanca website and students email me if they want to meet for an hour and learn English while I learn Spanish. I’ve met with one student multiple times for coffee, and it’s a great experience to meet natives, especially for those who aren’t taking classes at a local university.
Other students from IES have joined a choir, an ultimate frisbee team, and the mountain exploring club. On my own I’ve recently been getting involved with a youth group type organization for university students. There are many American students who attend as well as Spanish students. I’ve also met quite a few students from Germany who are studying in Salamanca. This organization provides activities throughout the week so that everyone can get involved, and it’s another cool way to meet other people in town. I usually go to the Bible study and the event that’s most like a typical youth group with food, songs, then a message or “algo profundo.”
Although the only photo evidence I have at this point are pictures of food, I promise that the activities here include people! While abroad for a semester, it is SO important to make connections with people and I’ve had the opportunity to meet some great people while I’ve been here. I’m thankful for the freedom to get involved during my semester and make Salamanca feel a little bit more like home.