Julie Day - 2015 Program Participant
Traveling to Salamanca with Ryan Air
What attracted you to study abroad?
Being a language major, I was particularly interested in being able to immerse myself in the Spanish language and culture by living with a Spanish family and taking classes at the local university.
Why did you choose IES Abroad’s program in Salamanca?
IES Abroad is affiliated with my home institution, so I was able to learn about all of the amazing opportunities that they offer through my study abroad office. I was looking for a true Spanish experience, one where I would be able to become integrated in the local community through volunteerism, but also take challenging classes not only in the program but at a local university. IES Abroad was the perfect fit, and I was able to do all of these great things during my time abroad.
What was your favorite part about Salamanca?
Salamanca was an incredible city to spend four months of my life in. In addition to having a phenomenal host mother, I was impressed not only by the beauty of Salamanca, but also how safe I felt walking through the streets and the friendliness of the people. It was also a very culturally diverse location, because the local university attracts people from all over the world, making it a truly vibrant community.
What made your program unique?
IES Abroad Salamanca is a very unique program in that it allows for students across a wide range of interests to find something they are passionate about, and it becomes very easy to get involved. They offer internship opportunities, volunteerism, intercambios, and much more, so not only are you having a great immersion experience, but you are able to pursue other passions while doing it.
How did local staff support you throughout your time in Salamanca?
I was very impressed by how helpful and encouraging the IES Abroad staff was throughout the entire semester. Mainly when I was looking for a volunteering opportunity, the staff were very supportive of helping me to be able to have that experience, which proved to be one of my favorite parts of living abroad.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I was very focused on my academics while in Salamanca, and although I highly encourage students to still be very diligent in their studies, sometimes I ended up missing out on some fun activities because I was too preoccupied with studying.
Try not to overwhelm yourself too much. Let go and take the chance to have a little fun every once in a while.
What was a typical day like for you in Salamanca?
Typically we would have language class every morning. Living in a home stay, I would wake up and get ready for school, make some breakfast, say goodbye to our little Yorkshire Terrier Jaco and my host mom, and walk to the center for class with my housemate. After maybe stopping for some coffee on the way, we would go to class. I typically had class until about 1 p.m. or 2 p.m., and then we would stop for la comida, which is the largest meal of the day and eaten with family in the home.
Afterward, I would take a little nap, return to about one or two classes in the evenings, and then either come home and study until dinner at 8 p.m. or volunteer and/or hang out with friends down by the river or in a cafe around the city.
Beautiful view from the Cathedral Tower in Salamanca - I walked down that street everyday for class!
What was your favorite activity outside the normal day-to-day schedule of your program?
I would definitely say one of my favorite activities was a hiking trip that I went on with my program to the Lago de Sanabria. It was a great weekend and bonding experience with my fellow students, and I loved all of the nature hikes and outdoor activities.
Tell us more about your accommodation and how it impacted your experience in Salamanca.
I stayed with a host mom during my semester abroad, and I can say without hesitation that this was one of the best parts of my experience. I still text my host mom every day, and can't wait until I can return to Spain to see her. Our time together allowed me to find my second family. I absolutely loved living with her and Jaco, and my housemate. I learned so much Spanish, too!
How has your time abroad shaped your life at home?
My time abroad was a life-changing experience. I look back on who I was prior to making the nearly 5,000-mile journey across the Atlantic to Spain and then compare that to who I am now, this opportunity has shaped my life and who I dream to become. I have made lasting connections with so many incredible individuals that I would not have met otherwise,. I can only say how fortunate I am to have had the chance to make a difference and gain a different perspective through my study abroad experience.