Making the decision to study with IES abroad in Salamanca, Spain during my spring semester of 2016 was one of the greatest decisions of my life. Having studied abroad with a different institution in Madrid during the fall semester of 2015, I was well prepared to start the second semester of my abroad experience in a totally different city that carried with it a very historically unique college-town vibe. Being just one of two incumbents familiar to the study abroad experience, I enjoyed my role in being able to assist other students with their endeavors alongside the incredible teaching and administrative staff of IES abroad Salamanca.
Granted I knew what to expect in regards to studying abroad and its learning process, Salamanca itself was a city that I had visited just once before and was not all that familiar with. The administrative staff and group of Spanish student mentors at the local university assisted myself along with the other study abroad students in every step of the way, from picking us up at the airport, to walking us through orientation to hosting our fare-well departure ceremony at the programs end. At times I did feel as if my freedom was cut short to meet this program’s expectations, however, these mandated obligations such as frequent meetings with IES abroad teachers and administration regardless of need did nothing but bring out the best in me over the course of this program.
Though I did not get as many opportunities to travel Europe as I had the semester prior, there is nothing I would have changed about my overall experience with IES Abroad. In electing to directly enroll in the University of Salamanca and to live in the dormitories with Spanish natives, I was assured to have the most authentic, culturally immersed experience possible over the course of this 16-week program.
The most difficult part of this experience was not the beginning, but rather the end. Finals were difficult and adaptation can be rocky, but saying goodbye to some of the best friends I had ever made and leaving the peers who enabled me to achieve what
I had achieved was the most difficult of all. Nonetheless, on the plane ride home in reflection of everything that I had accomplished it was evident that this experience was without a doubt beyond worthwhile.