So I finally made it. After a year of paperwork, bureaucracy, and luck, I finally made it to Spain. A little over one week has passes, so I wanted to reflect on all that has happened since I believe the first week sets the tone for the rest of the trip. The three main points I want to hit are my home-stay, my group, and my city.
First, the home-stay was sold to me as this incredible experience that provides unparalleled integration. That may be true, but they neglected to tell me how excruciatingly difficult it is when neither the host and hosted speak the same language. The first couple days were difficult, but I am slowly beginning to relax, and my elementary Spanish is starting to surface. On the bright side, my host mother is very patient and helpful when it comes to communication.
Next, this study abroad was facilitated through ISA, a third party liaison, so there are 11 people in my group from all over the country. We are mostly comprised of upperclassmen and women. I am one of three boys on the trip, but this seems to hold true for all other study abroad programs that I have seen. Everyone gets along, but there are some noticeable fractures among the group already. People are beginning to pair off and do their own thing, while other people in our group think we should all be together whenever we have free time. I believe we should all venture off to find our own way while maintaining contact with our immediate program. Aside from that, petty drama is beginning to occur more frequently, but I know this is unavoidable. So far, everything is just fine.
Finally, the city itself, Salamanca, is completely breathtaking. This city is completely different from any other place I have been in Europe. The streets are immaculate, the people are kind (but rarely speak English), and the architecture is awesome. Something distinct that I have noticed is that all of the older buildings, such as churches and the main cathedral, are made of sandstone. This gives the city a nice golden hue, and the buildings seem to glow during sunrise and sunset. Furthermore, the city is extremely affordable, and there is just about any shop anyone would need.
All in all I’m extremely happy with this program, and I can’t wait for whats to come.