At the young age of 8, I fell in love with the world and other cultures. I started begging my parents to let me travel anywhere and everywhere they would let me. Before college, I had already traveled abroad many times, so I knew that I wanted to Study Abroad to fully immerse myself into another culture.
Summer after freshmen year, I had the opportunity to study in Salamanca, Spain for a month. I studied at one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world: La Universidad de Salamanca.
After months of dreaming of this day and a few flight delays, my friend and I finally arrived in Madrid. Since our flight was delayed over 24 hours, we now had to face the obstacle of finding a bus to Salamanca barely knowing Spanish. After our 2-hour bus ride to Salamanca, we finally got to meet our host family. Going into this adventure, my biggest worry was living with a native family. We were placed with a nice Spanish family and these two strangers quickly became our “Spanish Mom and Dad”. This unique experience was the biggest blessing during my time abroad. Living with a native family forced me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to fully immerse myself into the Spanish culture. In just one short month, I became more proficient and confident in my Spanish speaking skills.
My program offered 4 excursions and many extracurricular activities. I took full advantage of every opportunity possible, from seeing sights in Toledo to taking a cooking class and many more. One of my favorite activities was horseback riding through the countryside and rivers of Spain about 45 minutes away from our University. The woman who was in charge of the lesson did not know much English and my Spanish was not adept at horse vocabulary either. As you can imagine, this situation caused some miscommunication and fear.
After learning how to ride and becoming more comfortable, I was thankful for this unique opportunity. Not many Americans can say that they learned how to ride a horse in Spain! Another fun adventure I took was to San Sebastián, Spain. During our free weekend, my group and I decided to explore this invigorating city on the beach. It was so exciting to relax on the beach and take in the last couple of days in Spain together. Throughout the course of my time abroad, the strangers on my program became some of my very best friends. Even after returning to Auburn, I still talk to them on a daily basis. They have become my piece of Salamanca in Auburn. Who would have thought that you could meet some of your best friends 4,298 miles away?
Even though I had traveled abroad many times before, this experience was so different than any other international experience I had ever encountered. Salamanca will always have a piece of my heart and be one of the places I call “home”. From this experience, I learned new qualities about myself and grew in ways that I never thought was possible. I developed problem-solving skills, independence and strengthened my decision-making skills all in one short month.
AU Liberal Arts Salamanca, Spain – Summer 2017