Salamanca, the place I will be living in for the next few months. That’s right, living – not visiting, but living.
I must admit that it has been a little strange after all of our travels to finally have a place to call home. It has been nice to unpack our backpacks, eat home cooked meals, and have time to sleep and wander by myself. However, living here means that I have to come to terms with the things that make me uncomfortable, and create relationships with the people I meet, because I won’t be moving on in a day or two.
Going into studying abroad in Spain, I didn’t expect the Spanish component to be that big a deal. I’ve taken Spanish for years in school, and always figured that I’d be able to stumble my way through most conversations. While I can understand all the ISA directors and my teachers, who have been trained to speak slowly using elementary phrases, the public population of Salamanca is a different matter. People speak quite quickly, and often use phrases or words that I don’t know. It doesn’t particularly hinder my day-to-day life, just makes integrating myself with the locals (as well as not sticking out as an American) quite difficult.
On a more positive note, Salamanca is a beautiful city. In the center of town is a giant plaza, called the “Plaza Mayor” where everyone in the city gathers at all hours of the day. It’s an awesome place to meet up with friends, people watch, observe the local students, and revel in the beauty of the city. So far, I haven’t had any trouble walking – everything is pretty close to everything, but the streets are quite narrow and confusing. I’ve learned to carry my map with me at all times so that I can wander freely. The University of Salamanca is spread throughout the city, but all of my classes are in one building. There are many cathedrals and old school buildings that have a distinctive sort of architecture(I believe it’s called the plata style) in which there are intricately carved shapes and images all over the buildings.
As I referenced several days ago in a post, I am staying in a residencia. Before arriving, I had no idea as to what to expect. Here is how I would describe it: a cross between a dorm, sorority house, and boarding house. There are 15 to 20 students who live here (a few Americans, an Italian, a Swede, and about 10 Spaniards). We all eat together for lunch and dinner in a little dining room type area downstairs, and there is a young woman who also lives here and is in charge of the residencia. It has been more of a challenge to meet the other students living here than I anticipated, the Spaniards speak quickly and I have trouble holding my end of the conversation up. We occasionally will have a short conversation with the other American students, but mostly just eat our meals in silence. It makes me thankful that I am here with Riley and have the ability to meet up with the kids from ISA when I want social interaction. The residencia itself is quite nice. Riley and I share a bathroom with 2 or 3 other students (3 rooms are grouped around a bathroom), and we have our own very large and new room. (In fact, the room has large empty areas that we won’t be buying furniture to fill – does anyone have any ideas as to what to fill that space with instead? Remember, we’re only here for 3 months and will have to leave it behind, so cheap and easy would be ideal.)
Anywho… I will post about classes tomorrow after my schedule is finalized, but wanted everyone to see and read a little bit about my life here so far!