The first three and a half days in Salamanca made me wonder why I'd ever been excited to study abroad. I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, and always a little confused. There were too many faces, places, and names to remember—and why did all the Spanish men seem to have the same haircut from behind? Orientation was leaving me even more disoriented, and I felt like something was wrong; studying abroad was supposed to be fun!
The evening of the fourth day, after returning from a fun, but exhausting (like everything else) day, I was expecting to eat dinner and go to bed, like the three days before. However, our orientation leaders had something else in mind: they encouraged us to go out to the discotecas, a staple of Spanish nightlife. I was hesitant—I'd heard about how late the Spanish keep the party going—but I agreed to go out, because I figured it was physically impossible to become any more tired than I already was. At midnight, I left the dorm, and went to see what could be fun enough to justify the insane hours. I expected to be back home by 2:30 or 3:00.
I got home at 6:30, with all my doubts about discotecas and late nights erased. I now understood why Spanish people wanted to stay out so late: Latin beats are easy to dance to, and friends are easy to find. I had originally gone out with other IES Abroad students, but I ended the night with new Spanish friends, and a phone full of new numbers. Even though the music was loud, the lights were bright, I had even more names and faces to remember, and I hadn't stopped dancing for six hours, I no longer felt exhausted or overwhelmed. Dancing and talking with new IES Abroad friends and even newer Spanish friends had helped me to find a place in Salamanca, and remember why I had been so excited to study abroad. For me, it's the people that make a place feel like home, and that night was the beginning of many friendships that I hope will last beyond this semester.
This past weekend, I went out to the discotecas again. Although I came home "early" (at 4:00!) I was able to meet up with some of my new friends from the first weekend, and make plans for next weekend too. In addition to going out, we also made plans to get coffee and do an intercambió—a conversation half in Spanish, and half in English, so we can strengthen our language skills as well as our friendships. I can't wait to spend four months here in Salamanca, building a home through dancing to Enrique Iglesias and drinking coffee.
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Whenever I have access to a kitchen, my hobby of baking and decorating cakes, cupcakes, and countless other sweets gets out of hand! Not even a tiny dorm kitchen can stop me from making enough cake to last my entire hall a week. A fun fact is that I have only been to Taco Bell once in my life.