On January 14, 2022, I wrote a letter to my future self after studying abroad. My plan was, and still is, to respond to that letter when my program ends. However, I thought it would be fun to do a mid-semester reflection as well. So, without further ado, here are my responses to the questions proposed by my past self over two months ago.
As you look back on your experience, what was the scariest moment? How did you get through it, and how did it help you grow as a person?
So far, the scariest experience for me has been sharing a kitchen with a local student. It’s scary because so far, we haven’t connected. I’ve tried reaching out a few times, but our schedules just don’t seem to align. I feel scared and worried that we may not connect at all, and that sort of feels like a waste of a great opportunity. Likewise, I am trying to push through the awkwardness and find a time for us to hang out, so we shall see how it goes! Not only that, but I am trying to push myself to make some sort of overture because I believe that it will help me grow my language skills.
Another scary moment I had was when I signed up to do an ‘intercambio’ with another student. We planned to meet in the Plaza Mayor and talk for an hour–30 minutes in Spanish and 30 minutes in English. It felt awfully similar to a first date because I had to think of things to share about myself for an hour, with the added pressure of a language barrier. After rescheduling twice, I finally made it to the plaza and had a great experience practicing my Spanish. Like anything that scares me, I always feel incredibly empowered on the other side.
What was the most exciting, prideful moment in your language-learning journey?
This past weekend, my parents came to visit. Not only was I ecstatic to show them my new city, but I also got to show off my Spanish skills. For example, I helped them check into the hotel, order at restaurants, make reservations, get food and drink recommendations, and find our way around during day trips. Sometimes it’s easy to catastrophize my language learning journey and claim I “don’t know any Spanish,” however, one weekend of being with people who actually don’t know any Spanish proved me wrong. I can 100% get around Spain and speak Spanish that others understand.
Who are the people you met during the semester that made a true impact on your life?
I have gotten the chance to meet people from all over the world during my semester so far. For one thing, spending time with people who grew up in completely different countries than I did is so interesting. A lot of our basic childhood experiences are different—like foods we ate and shows we watched. Yet, at the same time, so much is the same.
Who are the friends you stayed up with all night, laughing and making memories you'll remember forever?
I’ve certainly made friends that like to stay up and make memories. Late nights in Spain have been some of my favorite experiences so far, like running through the streets singing and eating Durum, or riding electric scooters home at three in the morning.
What are some of the coolest places you saw? What was it like to live and breathe around buildings from the 1200s?
Last week, my parents and I visited La Alberta, a town where I felt like I was walking around the set of Beauty and the Beast. Cars are not permitted on the cities cobblestone streets and the culture of the town is very traditional—filled with vibrant religious life. Young women were selling homemade candy at small stands on the streets, and many artisan shops were open selling leather goods. I had such a fun time exploring the town and have truly never been in a place that felt like a frozen moment in time until then.
What was your special spot in Salamanca?
It is nearly impossible to declare a favorite, special spot in Salamanca. The golden city has truly stolen my heart. Some honorable mentions include the Calixto and Melibea Garden, the Roman Bridge, and Mandala Cafe.
What was the best meal you ate? What was something you tasted that you were skeptical of, but wound up loving?
Jamón ibérico! As someone who has just brought meat back into her diet, I was incredibly skeptical of jamón at first, but now I love it. My favorite ways to eat it are on toast with tomato (especially from Mandala cafe) and on honeydew!
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<p>Hi! My name is Nicole Stein. I am a Spanish major at Kenyon College from Montclair, New Jersey spending the Spring of 2022 in Salamanca, Spain! My favorite things to do are travel, try new food, swim in small bodies of water, pet baby animals of all kinds, spend time outside hiking, skiing and exploring, and making connections with people from all walks of life.</p>