Preparing to Leave: The End of a Journey

Woohyun Kwen headshot
Woohyun Kwen
December 16, 2023
Plaza Mayor

Saying goodbye is always difficult, but saying goodbye to Salamanca was especially difficult for me. As I hopped on the last bus ride leaving Salamanca, I realized that this journey was really coming to an end.

I never imagined I would have the opportunity to live in Spain for an entire semester. Living away from home, family, and friends for over 3 months just seemed impossible in the past. However, at the end of my study abroad journey, I realized that a semester is not nearly enough. 

Living in Salamanca was so much more than learning the Spanish language and immersing myself in the local culture. The connections I formed with fellow students, professors, and the IES Abroad Salamanca staff were such meaning parts to my study abroad experience that made leaving even more difficult than I had imagined.

To be honest, I am excited to go back and see my family, friends, and return home. However, I am unsure and fearful of what this transition is exactly going to look like. I already miss the sandstone buildings, beautiful medieval architecture, and cobblestone roads of Salamanca. 

While I am thrilled to share exciting stories from my adventure abroad, I learned during the departure lecture that people back at home may not be as thrilled to listen. Relationships may have changed, there's always reverse culture shock, and the comfort of being back home means less exciting changes.

While my journey in Salamanca has come to an end, I want to leave some advice/things I would do differently for future students here so that your experience can also be an amazing one.

What I would do differently

  • Explore Salamanca more: In the beginning, the exhaustion of traveling from the US and feeling pressured to travel around Spain and Europe made me neglect exploring Salamanca itself to its fullest extent. It was only during the final few weeks when I realized I had never entered the cathedral or been to the beautiful parks by the Tormes River in Salamanca, because I was so busy doing other things. I am so glad I got to explore Salamanca more towards the end of my journey, but I wish I had started earlier.
  • Be more adventurous: This specifically applies to exploring the different cuisine and culture of Salamanca and different areas of Spain. At first, I felt anxious about trying new foods or customs in a new place. I found a few foods I liked, and didn't try anything new. On my last day in Salamanca during the farewell event, I had these croquetas that I thought were beans, but later I found out they were bull's tail! Although I never tried this before because I was too scared, I ended up really liking it and I was disappointed I had only tried it on my last day.
  • Appreciate those around me: In the beginning of my study abroad experience, I did not think I would form such special bonds with the people I met in Salamanca, including classmates, professors, and the staff. After an entire semester, I got to get really close with these people around me, and I regret not spending enough time with everyone and appreciating them. I will really miss all of these people, and I'm so grateful I got to meet everyone!

I hope these last minute reflections about my own experience will be helpful, and thank you for reading about my experiences throughout the semester!

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Woohyun Kwen headshot

Woohyun Kwen

Hi! I am a junior studying Education Studies and Psychology on the pre-health track at Amherst College. In my free time, I love to paint scenery, go on long walks, and sing my heart out to my favorite pop songs.

2023 Fall
Home University:
Amherst College
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