The Golden City of Salamanca is a Gold Star! Past Review

By (Human Development, University of California - San Diego) - abroad from 08/29/2013 to 12/14/2013 with

API (Academic Programs International): Salamanca - Universidad de Salamanca

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained so much from studying abroad. It changed my life. I became more independent, culturally aware, open-minded, responsible, and flexible because traveling and living in a new country for an extended period of time will bring new challenges and experiences. Before studying abroad, I was straight on the dream career path. Now, I caught the wanderlust bug and I'm considering teaching English abroad to gain more wonderful experience. It is definitely worthwhile, and I always tell everyone study abroad while you can because it is such a great opportunity.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

This program was absolutely amazing. All of my courses were held in Spanish, and there were plenty of electives to choose from. The courses weren't difficult, and all the teachers are very experienced in teaching Spanish as a second language. They make courses fun and interactive, and they urge you to use your Spanish speaking skills. The school actually gives you a good amount of days your allowed to be absent, so traveling is pretty easy on the weekends.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The API site supervisors were very helpful. Each session I tested into a lower level Spanish class than what I had hoped, and they were able to help me switch into more challenging classes. They even escorted me to the doctor when I was sick. They did a great job finding me a host family because I absolutely loved mine.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived with a host family, and the couple I lived with were fantastic. I lucked out. My particular family was very open and accepting, and they always double checked if I needed anything. It was also nice having another API student living in the same family as me, so we could bond and be a little more comfortable living in someone else's house for the first time.

* Food:

The food was also great in Spain too. My host father was the chef, and he prepared great meals. They also served a ton of food. They always pushed us to eat more, despite being stuffed.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt very integrated with the culture because I lived with a host family, volunteered at an English School, where I met a couple of great Spanish friends, and I babysat a Spanish family. My new Spanish friends took me and some other Americans to dinners and parties, so it was nice being around people my age from a different culture. I was very proactive and tried to integrate with the culture. If you put the effort in, Salamanca will definitely give you the cultural immersion you are looking for.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I got a sinus infection while I was abroad, and it was very easy for me to meet with my API advisor and then go to the doctor. I didn't have to wait long at all because I believe the health insurance API provides is very good. The advisor helped me obtain the medicine I needed. I don't remember if there were specific vaccinations I needed for the program, but it's probably the same thing required by public schools.

* Safety:

I felt Salamanca was very safe. I could walk home late and not feel scared. I was always cautious, but the city is pretty small that there isn't anybody on the streets who would seemed a little sketchy. I also never felt like I would be pick pocketed in Salamanca. Maybe you have to weary about pick pockets when there are street performers during fairs and festivals, so be careful when those times are around. Overall, I felt very safe in Salamanca.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

I felt Salamanca was relatively cheap for being a European city. I'm not too sure about groceries because I lived with my host family, and they did the shopping. From going out to eat, it is cheaper than the U.S.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

The classes forced us to use Spanish, but outside the classroom, the program had no control. It's up to the student to keep speaking the language. There are also services to help you set up Spanish conversations, but it really depends on the student. Living with a host family also forces you to use the language too.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Intermediate Spanish
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Intercambios are Spanish/ English conversations with a Spaniard, and those were helpful. I highly recommend making Spanish friends because they force you to speak Spanish. If you're around Americans most of the time, it will result in a lot of English speaking rather than Spanish.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Spanish Immersion
  • Very resourceful Site Advisors
  • Host Family and Spanish Friends
* What could be improved?
  • More organized excursions
  • More volunteer opportunities
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Your study abroad experience is really what you make of it. If you want to get true culture immersion, go out and find friends, volunteer opportunities, or conversation partners. You don't have to settle for people in your program because personally, out of a group of 50, I spent time with only three of them, and the rest of my time was with Spaniards. I also say don't feel pressured to fit in with people in your study abroad program because you're there to experience a new culture. Go out and meet new people! You'll meet plenty of Americans when you go back home.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!