Looking Back on Salamanca: 9 Reasons I Love That City

Liana Cramer is a two-time Aspire by API alum:  during high school, she studied abroad with us on summer programs in Paris, France, and in Salamanca, SpainCurrently a student at the University of Notre Dame, Liana recently studied abroad again with Aspire’s college division,  Academic Programs International, in Granada, Spain.  In the following post, she shares her thoughts on her summer experience with Aspire in Salamanca.

High School Study Abroad and Gap Year Programs Programs in Salamanca, Spain

 

It was on June 30 , 2011 that I fell in love with the Spanish culture and, in particular, the city of Salamanca. On that day I arrived in Spain for the first time. At the end of the summer, I would leave feeling as if I were a local of “Sala.” Parting was difficult, but my time in Salamanca–taking on the Spanish language, culture, and that incredible city–was an unforgettable adventure.

I wear a ring on my finger that carries the symbol of the city of Salamanca. I never take it off. Like the memories of that summer, it comes with me everywhere I go.

Here are 9 of the many reasons that I loved studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain:

1.) Mingling and Mariachi in the Plaza Mayor:
Salamanca boasts what is considered the most beautiful Plaza in all of Spain, and it is absolutely stunning. Locals and travelers gather throughout the day and especially late at the night to enjoy coffee, a meal, mariachi bands, dancing, or simply each others’ company.

2.) Dating Lessons from La Universidad de Salamanca:
I knew my classes at the University were off to a good start when my Spanish professor exclaimed, on the first day of class, that the best way to learn Spanish would be to find a Spanish boyfriend. Throughout the next four weeks, classes continued to be just as entertaining. The professors I had while at la Universidad de Salamanca were incredible. After four weeks of enjoyable summer study, I was able to test out of two additional semesters of college Spanish and sail easily into the next level.

3.) Siesta:
A long lunch followed by a nap seems like a dream, but this is the way of life in the smaller cities of Spain. At lunch time the streets empty out and the stores pause for a mid-afternoon break. I enjoyed the luxury of the siesta while studying abroad and am left wondering why the US does not adopt this tradition. And during those afternoons when my friends and I had too much energy for a nap, we got to enjoy strolling Salamanca, the city all to ourselves.

Aspire by API Summer Program Salamanca1

4.) The Small-city Advantages:
I’ve always thought that I was a “big-city” girl, but after a summer in Salamanca I have come to decide that it truly is an ideal size for students. From shopping, to eating, visiting museums, or enjoying a boat ride along Rio Tormes, Salamanca has plenty to offer and everything is within a 20 minute walk along the city’s charming streets.

5.) “New” dates back to the 1700s:
Two of Salamanca’s most important monuments are the Old Cathedral, which was built in the 1200s and the New Cathedral, which was built in the 1700s. Let me repeat that, the new Cathedral was built over 300 years ago. This should give you an idea of the history surrounding Salamanca. From churches, to monasteries, museums, and noble mansions, the architecture of Salamanca remains an impeccable portrayal of the city’s history and tradition.

6.) The Tolling of the Church Bells:
I remember, fondly, walking home from classes each day and hearing in the distance, “dong, dong, dong…,” the tolling of the bells of Salamanca’s Cathedral. No matter where you are you will always be able to hear those beautiful church bells tolling. I have yet to find anything quite like that in the US.

7.) Nothing like Tapas:
Tapas are small portions of Spanish dishes that are typically ordered to share. Going our for tapas is thus the perfect opportunity to try several Spanish delicacies in one night. It’s also much more of a social activity than just going out to a restaurant. In some tapas restaurants you stand around tables, giving you the chance to chat with others around you…a perfect opportunity to practice your Spanish.

 Aspire by API Summer Salamanca2

8.) Salsa Dancing:
The Spanish love to salsa dance and the men are especially proud of their dancing skills.  We took group salsa dance lessons at a dance studio while in Salamanca. It was a great time and the dance steps we learned were put to good use.

9.) Chic Old Ladies Sporting Fur Coats:
The people of Salamanca, especially the older women, enjoy donning fancy outfits and sipping wine in cafes along the Plaza Mayor. I aspire to be them one day.

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