... in Salamanca, Spain
Hello everybody! My name is Viktoria-Luise Kastner and I had the opportunity to spend my semester abroad in my 1st preference and therefore also in my dream city Salamanca. To express my enthusiasm right at the beginning, I would like to recommend you to consider this small, unknown city in the northwest of Spain. Why and how I try to explain in the following.
When did you start your exchange semester?
I traveled to Salamanca in February 2020 and was looking forward to a great 5-month exchange semester until June 2020. It was great, no question, but unfortunately it did not last 5 months. Due to Corona, I was more or less "forced" to leave Spain and fly back to Austria after 6 weeks. Nevertheless, I had an incredible time and experienced a lot.
Why did you decide to go to Spain?
I decided to spend a semester in Spain because I speak Spanish and was not only fascinated with the language itself but also with the country itself. During my school days, I was in Salamanca for a week and stayed with a host family for a language week. Even back then, I liked the city very much and we saw a lot of the buildings and structures, but also gardens and parks. At that time, one week felt too short, which is why I gave Salamanca my 1st preference when I applied for a semester abroad. I often heard that people living there speak a very clear, distinct and beautiful Spanish - unlike in Barcelona, for example, a city which naturally seems dominated by tourists. After my Matura, I have lived in the US for a year in whch I could perfect my English. I was very motivated to bring my Spanish to a similar level. That's why I decided to go to the beautiful España.
As I mentioned before, I already had experience what it is like to live abroad, but it was different in Spain because I didn't know anyone at the beginning. However, I can immediately take away your fear because in Salamanca you get to know other students or young people almost by yourself. The city isn't very big, but it's teeming with students. Erasmus students in Salamanca organize many meetings, club visits or excursions, where you have opportunities to socialize. Studying was a bit complicated at first, especially since we, coming from WU, are used to different standards of organization. In Spain, classrooms are often changed or courses are cancelled, so it is not always certain whether you will be informed or not. The university is rather small compared to WU but after a while it becomes manageable. The language was a challenge but after 6 weeks I had the feeling that I could understand 80% and the content became easy to understand. If you ask for help, you get it. So here, I can only recommend to be open and to address incomprehensible things directly to the professors or the secretary's office.
What was it like to study at a foreign university and to live in another country?
I quickly got to know my best friend in Salamanca, Ioanna, with whom I went out 2-3 times every weekend, which was also my little personal highlight. Since the city is not big, you can easily walk from bar to bar and go to many clubs in one night. The Spaniards start very late with "predrinking" and it happens quite often that you don't get to the first club until 1 am in the morning. Everything is super cheap in Spain - a schnapps, for example, costs only 1€ and there are all possible and impossible flavors. This can be good luck and bad luck at the same time! During my time there, we celebrated some birthdays and were often out walking in parks or on hiking trails.
"I was lucky to meet many friends from all over the world: from Colombia, America, Greece, Spain, Italy, Germany and Finland. I am still in contact with some of them and plans for summer vacations are already being made".
What makes Salamanca special for you?
In Salamanca, there is a very old bridge, the "puente romano", which is a meeting point for many young people and also the river is a great place to meet with friends on a beautiful day, which is almost every day in Spain. No matter if you play games you brought with you or just chat, I enjoyed every minute there because of the wonderful and dynamic atmosphere surrounding it. The city itself and the Plaza Mayor is a magnet for young people and is well visited every day. There are not only numerous cafés, but also souvenir shops and stores like Mango or H&M. The cathedral in Salamanca is a tourist highlight and the adjacent garden is beautiful and a perfect place to meet. Also, a visit alone to read a book or to learn is a great afternoon.
How could you develop through this experience?
From a social point of view, an exchange in another culture is priceless and that is why I can only recommend it. I was able to develop enormously on a cultural and intellectual level and gained a lot of autonomy and independence. Of course, you have to take a semester abroad to get the most out of it. The course "Intercultural Competence" gave me a good basic knowledge and revealed some prejudices, but also revealed clear characteristics of the Spanish people.
I can only recommend to spend a semester abroad and choose Salamanca.
Universidad de Salamanca
Location: Salamanca, Spain
Population of Salamanca: ca. 332.234
Number of students: ca. 31.834
Exchange level: Bachelor