Now that orientation has come to a close (and we all feel sufficiently oriented) things are really getting under way! IES classes started this week. I’m taking Spanish Film Noir and Social Reality and Surrealism in Spain, which are sure to be engaging and both taught by top-notch professors. Because classes at USAL haven’t started yet, I had more space in my schedule this week to do what I’ve been most excited about: integrating myself into life in my new city. I’ve found that the best way to get to know the city is to just take the time to explore with a friend, even getting a little lost on purpose to explore a new neighborhood. There are beautiful parks throughout the city and there’s a lovely bicycle path close to Río Tormes which my housemate and I walked on a sunny afternoon last week.
More important (and fun!) for me than getting to know the geography, though, has been getting to know the locals. There’s a service offered by USAL to find people to practice languages with, and I’ve already had quite a few intercambios. I’ve learned from my new conversation partners which other cities in Spain I should visit, where the best cafés in Salamanca are, and lots of new slang terms to describe everything from overeating to being flat broke. I’ve even made some true friends through the language exchanges, and now when I go out on the town in the evenings it’s with a mixture of Americans and Spaniards.
My favorite intercambio adventure was with a nursing student named Ester, who brought me to her favorite place in Salamanca, El Huerto de Calixto y Melibea. From within the walls surrounding this gorgeous and peaceful public garden we could see the cathedral illuminated for the night and the countless little lights of the entire city below.
I’ve also discovered that another great way to meet new people is to participate in activities attended by a mixture of Spaniards and foreigners. This week I attended a free Latin dance class and a few days later went on a tapas tour of the city with other members of the class (and some friends from IES). We sampled local cuisine and enjoyed the varied ambience of five different tapas bars, and at the end of the evening we went to the club where the salsa and merengue classes are held every week, mingling with our new friends and practicing our newly acquired dance skills.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I am a junior at Bowdoin College, where I am majoring in Spanish and minoring in Art History and Teaching. I'm outgoing and inquisitive, and getting to know other people is how I make sense of this mixed-up and beautiful world. My favorite hobbies are baking bread, playing ukulele, and camping. I love exploring new places and am looking forward to getting to know Salamanca as well as the fun and challenges I'll encounter in my travels around Europe.</span></p>