As this experience comes to a close, finals quickly approaching, friends buying their bus tickets home it becomes important for me to spend more time processing this past month. This month, having gone by in what seems like a week, has served as more than an intensive language course or an extended vacation but instead as a crash course to crucial life skills. The reason a student should go abroad isn’t simply to learn a language or meet new people but to have the opportunity to absorb a culture unlike anything they have experienced before. Even for people like me, a Puerto Rican already accustomed to hearing Spanish, and an active participant in Latino culture, this experience has once again reminded me that Latino and Hispanic culture cannot be encapsulated or summarized in one experience. Instead, chipping away at the tip of this iceberg relies on an understanding of an endless collection of distinct countries, municipalities and traditions. Though, of course, I have not accomplished it in one month in Salamanca, the opportunities I have been given to visit Segovia, Aviero, Porto and Madrid have helped me understand how important traveling really is.
Though my first recommendation would be to spend a year traveling, a more reasonable suggestion would be to study in Salamanca with IES. If you only have a short period of time, as I did, to see Salamanca, having it personally curated and arranged by a group of caring and thoughtful people really takes away much of the stress and pressure that I felt being alone and abroad for the first time. IES is a program that both facilitates students independence and at the same time is able to offer students help without them asking. For me this was especially important seeing as students with learning disabilities often are forced to become accustomed to doing a lot of asking.
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<p>I am a rising senior at Sarah Lawrence College, double-majoring in Spanish and Journalism. When I'm not studying, I love practicing Jiu Jitsu and cooking in my tiny kitchen. As a Puerto Rican Jew, I love cooking everything, from my great grandmother's noodle kugel to my mom's tostones. My dream is to travel to every continent and as of right now, I have been to more than fifteen different countries.</p>