Michelle - Universidad de Salamanca

B Arts
Semester 2, 2017

Academic Experience

At the University of Salamanca I studied 5 courses, which included Lengua Espanola, Introducción a la fonología y fonética española, Gramática para la enseñanza del español I, Segunda lengua III: Italiano, and fonetica del italiano. The professors are really kind and understanding and will happily help you out because they are eager for you to pass. I wouldn't recommend taking Introducción a la fonología y fonética española - it was super difficult and only 40% of the class passed the final exam.

I really enjoyed having my classes in Spanish, and that the class sizes were generally quite a bit smaller than UQ, so it was more personal. It was difficult at the beginning trying to understand how the system worked - especially signing up for subjects, and trying to fit my timetable together. Everything is so relaxed in Spain, and with the help of the filologia ladies, everything turned out just fine! It was also challenging going from UQ where all the lectures are recorded, to Salamanca where there were much fewer online resources.

Personal Experience

My exchange has been one of the best experiences of my life. Salamanca is a student city, so I could not have picked a better place to go! I met so many people from all over the world and have made some really good friendships. I was really sad to leave because Salamanca and its foreign community really became a home away from home for me!

Salamanca has a ridiculous amount of bars - which makes a lot of sense given that the students practically run the city. I would recommend Paniagua (get an agua de valencia to share) and the Irish Theatre haha (they have parties every tuesday night!). Salamanca also has some great Tapas options near Van Dyke Cinema. And my favourite cafe of all time was Don Quijote near the Facultad de filologia - because you can get a tasty tapa and coffee for 2 euro.

My Spanish definitely improved from being here. At the start I was a shaky B1/B2, but by taking classes in Spanish, and living with Latin American and Spanish housemates, I really improved. Just a heads up, the common language between all exchanges students is generally english, so I did end up speaking a lot of english.

Accommodation 

I lived off campus in an apartment with 4 other housemates. It worked well for me because I was staying in an all-spanish speaking flat and had my independence. I wouldn't recommend living on campus because I hear it is pretty expensive, and the food isn't all that great. I lived just outside of the old town and about 10 minutes walk from the train station. I would recommend either staying in the old town or just outside it, anywhere more than 15 minutes walk from uni is a bit too far.

Advice for trying to find an apartment would be to get to Salamanca at least 2 weeks before classes begin. Apartments go really fast because there are so many students looking at the same time as you. And there are a bunch of facebook groups where you can apartments, so I suggest joining those before you arrive.

Budget 

So Salamanca was pretty cheap compared to Brisbane. I paid 275 euros per month for rent which included everything. That was on the upper end though so you can find places for much cheaper - it depends on the location. For everything regarding food and entertainment I budgeted 100 euros per week, which I think is more than enough. I paid 30 euros a week for food, and another 20 on eating out/going out. Everything is walking distance so there is no need to take the bus. I paid about 10 euros a month for my phone plan as well. 

The only big expense I guess was travel - especially getting to and from Madrid everytime I wanted to travel to a different country. But there are heaps of places in Spain you can easily explore by bus from Salamanca - I went to Segovia, Avila, Oviedo, Cadiz etc.

Professional Development & Employability

I became very independent. This was my first time living out of home so I had to negotiate everything myself, and in Spanish! I think communicating in Spanish all the time made me try a little harder at university because I had to put in that extra bit of effort to make myself understood. Also, I feel that from being surrounded by people from different countries I became more understanding of cultural differences.

Highlights 

There are too many great memories from my exchange to choose from. I loved meeting people from all over the world, and sitting in a room and realising that everyone was from a different country! You meet so many extraordinary people on exchange. 

I honestly cannot recommend more going on exchange to Salamanca. The thing I loved most was that it was not a very big city, so it was pretty hard to get lost. Everything I needed was in a 15 minute walking distance, and it was so safe. I felt perfectly safe walking home at 5am after a fun night out with friends.

Top Tips 

I think the most important thing is to make sure you have enough electives to go to Salamanca, because it is really hard trying to credit subjects and half of the time if you find a match they aren't available or they don't fit into your timetable. And just a heads up, the subjects that are worth 6 credits require A LOT more work than the 3 credit subjects - so I would advice taking more subjects with lower credits. 

I would recommend doing Lengua Espanola if you want credit for SPAN3120, just make sure you keep up to date because there is a lot of content! I would also recommend Gramática para la enseñanza del español I, because it is really easy and helpful for your spanish!

Also another tip - try to experience the nightlife as much as you can! It is a city that is practically catered to Tapas and bars! Some of my best memories have been from going out with my friends, meeting more friends, and ending the night with a 5am kebab.