Friday, October 02, 2009

Jenn K. - Salamanca, Spain - Fall 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On the first day of class, my Comparative Religion professor told me to get drunk.No, not from sangria (it makes me sleepy anyway) or the glasses of beer called caƱas...but from the Spanish culture.Consider me slightly buzzed.Today I got to take a tour of the gorgeous cathedral in Salamanca, climbing the stairs of the towers, walking along the upper exterior of a prominent, historic building to take in views that few get to see. Saturday I went horseback riding. Last Monday I started a Personality Psychology class - in Spanish, with one other U.S. American and about 30 Spanish students. The weekend before that I went searching for a Woody Allen statue in Oviedo and saw a peacock roaming around a park. On the bus ride there, I drove through the most incredible mountains I have ever seen in my life.In my religion class the first week, I learned that people in Spain say Jesus instead of salud when people sneeze. I've had a wine tasting, enjoyed many nights sitting in Plaza Mayor talking with friends, experienced frustrations registering for classes, discovered I share a love of Bruce Springsteen with my entire host family, learned to dance salsa and flamenco, and decided that I enjoy drinking my coffee at home every morning much more than drinking it on the run. Tomorrow I'm visiting a cemetery for class, I'm going to start volunteer work with immigrants in the next week, and this weekend I'm visiting Granada, Sevilla, and the windmills made famous by Cervantes.This doesn't even cover a sliver of what I have experienced in the past month living in Salamanca, and I still have 83 days to take in the rest of this town and hopefully the rest of the country. I have again taken the chance, this time in depth, to do what I think should be a part of everyone's college experience - travel or live with a group of strangers, communicate in some kind of "foreign language," accept the challenge of establishing connections with people with whom I seem to have little in common, and ultimately appreciate the relationships I establish with them.My time here has been both challenging and rewarding already. There are so many cultural intricacies that are necessary to pick up in order to really get along in Spanish society, from vocabulary and manners to night life and food. The university system is entirely different here, and can be really confusing for U.S. American students; the homework load appears lighter, but if I want to do well on the midterm and final - often the only two grades for courses - I know I better be reading my notes fairly often. Many classes are lecture-based as well, which is quite a change of pace coming from Elmhurst. However, traveling is fairly easy here, people and professors are understanding of the fact that I am here to learn, and I have made some awesome friends. With all the ups, downs, and even the current cold that I'm shaking off, it's pretty easy to be utterly content with myself for being here, for taking advantage of all the opportunities I have here to learn, explore, and teach, and to continue taking my life in the direction in which I want it to go. Yes, consider me buzzed indeed. Perhaps by the time I leave in December my professor will approve of my drunk-on-Spanish-culture status.Nevertheless, I think it's important to remember that I am going to return home eventually; there is a large portion of my life waiting for me outside of Salamanca. As I am here, I am finishing my applications for graduate school. It's not really making me miss out on any opportunities here because I have managed my time really well thus far, but it has been constantly reminding me to think about how this experience fits into the grand scheme of things for me. Having a concrete connection to the future, working toward my next goal while completing a different one at the same time, really makes me think about the decisions I make here. I think so far I have done a pretty good job of taking care of myself and my responsibilities, while still managing to have a ton of fun. Studying abroad is all about balance in so many different ways.I hope that sharing a bit of my experience encourages some of you back home to pack your bags, take a risk, and head out somewhere new. I'm keeping my own blog while I'm here as well, so if you want to stay really up-to-date on my experiences and see more pictures, you can visit me at

Hasta luego. ;-)

~ Jenn - Salamanca, Spain


Post a Comment

<< Home