Avani Kolla - 2014 Program Participant
“La Catedral,” one of the most famous landmarks found in Salamanca
Why did you choose study in Salamanca, Spain?
I knew that I wanted to study abroad in a Spanish speaking country and decided to look into programs in Spain specifically so that I could also explore other countries in Europe. Salamanca was one of the few summer programs in Spain, and I had also heard from many people that it is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. Even though I didn’t know too much about the city, I decided to take the chance and study abroad there. Taking the chance was definitely worth it because as I had been told, Salamanca truly is a gorgeous place to be.
What were your housing arrangements like in Spain?
We had the option of staying in a residence hall or being in a homestay. All the students placed in homestays had another student from our program either in the same host family or in a neighboring host family. I decided to be in a homestay and was placed with a wonderful, caring, and kind host mom. There were tons of other students staying with host families in the same apartment complex as my host mom and me. The homestay experience was truly valuable as it allowed me to learn more about the culture and traditions in Salamanca and Spain. It also forced me to communicate more in Spanish, which was a helpful experience.
The famous Roman aqueduct paralleling the city of Segovia.
Explain a typical day for you in Salamanca.
On a typical day, I would walk about 20 minutes in the morning to the university building where college classes take place. After my first class, a grammar class, I had about an hour-long break where I would eat a snack or just walk around Salamanca. I then had a history class about the Arab World in Spain. After this class, I would walk back home, eat lunch, and then either explore Salamanca a little more or take a “siesta.”
Late afternoon, I would walk back to the university area for a conversation class, which was just two other students from my program and a professor chatting and drinking coffee. After this class, sometimes there were IES Abroad events, such as salsa or flamenco lessons. In the evenings, I would go back home for dinner and explore the shops or park nearby.
What was the most memorable experience you had while studying in Spain?
My most memorable experience while studying abroad was visiting Toledo. The city was absolutely stunning. It is also a unique city in that it has a famous mosque, synagogue, and cathedral, which represent how three religions peacefully coexisted there. A lot of the streets were decorated with banners and flowers there was almost magical feeling just wandering around. Toledo is also a city I had been wanting to visit for years, so finally getting the chance to see it was very memorable.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in Spain?
The biggest challenge for me in Spain was the food because I am a vegetarian. A lot of cities I visited while in Spain did not have restaurants with many vegetarian options. Most restaurants would just have a salad made of lettuce and tomatoes. There were a few restaurants here and there that had surprisingly good vegetarian options, though. A lot of the traditional Spanish foods are meat based, so it was difficult not being able to try most of those foods. In general, I did not get to eat out much, but my host mom was very kind and careful about making vegetarian meals for me so it was not too much of an issue.
The Plaza Mayor, a place where people gather for various events or just to hangout in Salamanca at nighttime.
What important tips can you give to future study abroad students in Spain?
The time you spend abroad will go by quickly, especially if you do a summer program. So definitely make the most of every day and take time to go and explore the city you are in during the week. It’s also worth making the effort to travel as much as you can during the weekends. Especially in Europe, it is so easy and relatively inexpensive to travel from city to city or even to another country, so it’s a good opportunity to see new countries and cities. The university in Salamanca offered a few weekend trips for international students. You can also talk to the IES Abroad staff about the best mode of transportation to get to a particular city.