It has been three days since I have returned to the United States from my Off-Campus Study Semester in Salamanca, Spain. After having some time to recover from the six-hour time difference and acclimate back to life in America I have been able to reflect on my time abroad. My time in Salamanca was one of the most unbelieve experiences I have had in my life. There were many aspects that made it a wonderful time, from being emersed into a completely different culture to meeting people from around the world were some of the many highlights.
Beginning with my time in Salamanca, I quickly found that their culture differed from the United States in many ways. Normally many people in Salamanca don’t eat very much for breakfast in the morning which was a change for me because I was very accustomed to eating a large breakfast in America. The only thing I had before my five hour school day was one cup of black coffee. The first week proved to be hard because I got hungry during the day, but eventually, I became accustomed to this way of life. When I returned to my house at 2:30 in the afternoon a large lunch would be waiting for me. The next meal would be dinner at 9:00. I would normally eat my meals with my host mom and a few of the other foreign students that were also living in the house. The meals would be a time that I would be able to speak lots of Spanish because my host mom would normally ask us specific things about ourselves or about living in Spain. Other than having all of my classes in Spanish, this was the other time that really helped me improve my speaking and understanding Spanish skills.
One of the greatest parts of the Salamanca program was being able to meet people from all around the world. We had four different classes every day and during that time I was able to build relationships with people from different cultures. My favorite foreign people that I met were from Japan and China. I become very close to two Chinese girls that were in my conversation class and we would converse in both English and Spanish. I learned about how their cultures and lives were different than mine in the United States. On one of my last days in Salamanca, two of the Chinese girls took me out to dinner to their favorite authentic Chinese restaurant. Together we talked about our time in Salamanca and how much fun we had. They will be some of the people that I will miss most from my Off-Campus Study.
The trips that I went on throughout Spain and Europe were spectacular. The Colby program had many organized trips around Spain and my favorites were our excursions to the North and South. The North trip brought us to Basque Country and during that time we saw historical sites as well as having time to enjoy the beautiful beaches that lined the coast. The trip to the South was different but just as enjoyable as the trip to the North. The cities that we visited in the Andalusia Region were all very beautiful in their own ways. My favorite city that we visited was Málaga because there were lights all throughout the streets to get into the Christmas spirit. During my time in Spain, I found out that celebrating Christmas was something that was very important to them. I took some personal trips throughout my time abroad and my favorite places that I went to were Barcelona, Spain and Amsterdam, Netherlands. I enjoyed my trip to Barcelona because of the sites and the architectural masterpieces by Antoni Gaudí. The Sagrada Família was amazing to see and experience because of all the detailing on the church. Amsterdam was a fantastic place to travel to because throughout the streets there were also canals. This made it a very stunning city especially when I went on a canal tour. Other notable things I did in Amsterdam were visiting the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum. The food in all of these places proved to be astounding and that will be one of the things I will miss most about being in Europe.
Finally, I’m so fortunate I was able to study abroad in Salamanca. The program directors were amazing and the program was very well organized. In the future, I hope I am able to travel to more places around the world because it is something I really enjoy.