Conquering all of Iberia

Maria Amorosso
March 31, 2017

My travel philosophy for this semester has been based on deliberate intention. That means that when I’m planning a trip, I want to get a real taste of the culture and not just go to a country because I can. I want to go to places that have meaning or excitement to me, and I also wanted to do my trips at convenient times. For that reason, a little under a month ago, I went on my first trip out of Spain. It was an IES Abroad sponsored trip, which was nice because I didn’t have to agonize over housing or transportation plans. I also think that Portugal was a good first out of country trip because it was so close. I hadn’t really thought of this until I was agonizing over Semana Santa plans, but Spain is pretty far from everything, as it is located on a PENINSULA. Portugal was a refreshing change from Spain for a variety of reasons, including the following.


Language. As you may have guessed, people in Portugal speak Portuguese. While it is a semi-close cousin of Spanish, there were times where I was thoroughly confused. Portuguese also sounds like Spanish people speaking French, and that definitely confounded me. On top of that, Portuguese people would rather you speak English with them than in Spanish. Many of us  didn’t want to be typical American tourists asking for people to speak English, but more often than not, we were encouraged to speak English, especially because the areas that we visited were tourist-y. To my immense guilt, I spoke a lot of English on the trip, and to top it off, I had trouble transitioning back to Spanish-heavy days in Salamanca.


Food. I personally like Spanish food. It doesn’t have the flavor of Italian food, for sure, but, in general, it’s a part of the culture here and I enjoy it. That is, until I tried Portuguese food. The first real meal that I had in Portugal was a sort of sandwich/wrap from a Portuguese chain, and I was thoroughly impressed. I can’t really speak from a strong culinary background, but they definitely used more spices and cooked differently.


People. Keeping in mind that I have spent more time in Salamanca which, while it has a lot of international students, many of them are European, and not in a cosmopolitan city such as Madrid, I was blown away by the diversity in Portugal. Again, we were in Lisboa and other tourist destinations, but I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity. In the United States, at my university, I feel generally very distinguishable because the vast majority of students are white and, for me, race is more of a contentious point in the United States, especially on liberal arts campuses. Coming to Salamanca, I wasn’t nervous because I had been in Spain before, and the people I interacted with generally had positive reactions to my being biracial. I felt a similar sentiment in Portugal, in addition to the fact that there were so many people of color, and people of color who had olive/tan skin and dark curly hair. I felt that I blended in, which is not something that happens often for me. Needless to say, I enjoyed it.


Landscape. As someone who currently resides in Florida, I love the sun and the water. Like many people, it brightens my mood. While the weather is generally agreeable and much warmer than at my university, Salamanca is quite landlocked. You can imagine my happiness when we got to visit the rocky cliffs of Cascais and the beach, in addition to seeing a bridge in Lisboa that looked a lot like the Golden Gate bridge, and tour the hilly, scenic landscape. I loved being able to take part in that, but I was also incredibly grateful to be back in Salamanca, where pretty much everything is in walking distance and the hills are negligible!

Stay tuned for my next post, which will be on Semana Santa, (Holy Week in Spain), which is IES Abroad’s spring break!

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Maria Amorosso

<p>Hi! I&rsquo;m a junior attending Colgate University. I&rsquo;m majoring in Psychology and minoring in Spanish &ndash; I practice it whenever I can! As a multicultural student (half black and half Italian), I consider myself a city girl and am drawn to vibrant, diverse areas. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with friends and family, traveling, going to the beach, and watching or playing sports. I can&rsquo;t wait to head to Salamanca, sharpen up my Spanish and share my adventures!</p>

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