IES Abroad Salamanca - Advanced Spanish Immersion
92% Rating
(27 Reviews)

IES Abroad Salamanca - Advanced Spanish Immersion

The program allows you to be involed in the academic and social life of the Universidad de Salamanca (USAL), the oldest university in Spain and one of the most prestigious in Europe. Learn alongside your Spanish peers by enrolling at USAL or the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca (UPSA). Regardless of your major, you may combine your interests in linguistic and cultural proficiency with your academic pursuits.

Program Type
Subject Areas
Degree Level
High School Diploma
Academic Year
Host Family
Online Application
Official Transcripts
Language Requirement
GPA Requirement
Health Requirement
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Program Reviews

based on 27 reviews
  • Academics 7.9
  • Support 8.5
  • Fun 9.1
  • Housing 9.4
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 16 - 27 of 27
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Experiencia fenomenal

As a Spanish major and language enthusiast, it only made sense that I would study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country, and after the recommendation from a professor and a little more research, I settled on Salamanca because of its history (it has the oldest university in Spain, dating back to the early 13th Century), its size (not a big city), and its connection to the Spanish language (it advertises itself as “La Ciudad de Español”). This was a fantastic decision.

I lived in homestay with a host mother and host brother. My host mother teaches Spanish to foreigners for a living. This wasn’t the case with everyone’s host families, but I couldn’t be more grateful that it was the case with mine. If I ever didn’t understand something, she was eager to help me understand the concept and would explain and explain in an effort to eliminate the need for a dictionary.

The classes were definitely challenging. Of all of them, the required language class is the most invaluable. The professors are some of the best I’ve had, and their approach to teaching is totally different from any traditional “grammar class” I’ve had in the U.S. Two great opportunities were the internship, which let me work in English classes at a local school, and the university classes, which not only taught me the material in the class, but also gave me the chance to say, “I did well in classes designed for native speakers,” which is a huge confidence booster.

Our program went on a number of trips, and I got to travel on my own. I chose to stay in Spain, so I had the chance to experience a number of cities and the process of planning transportation, lodging, and activities while managing to not go home broke. The abundance of cultural activities and ways to experience the culture in Salamanca ensured that there was always something to do.

The only thing I wish I had known prior to choosing Salamanca is that it’s an immersion program. That means the staff speaks predominantly in Spanish (though some of them do speak English) and all the courses offered are conducted in Spanish. This would’ve been a selling point for me had I known it, but it’s still good to know.

And to top off the experience, its Plaza Mayor is one of the most beautiful in Spain (Google it if you don’t believe me—it’s practically a fact).

As Cervantes said, "Salamanca, que enhechiza la voluntad de volver a ella a todos los que de la apacibilidad de su vivienda han gustado." Salamanca became like another home to me, and I’ve already started looking at ways to get back there.

How can this program be improved?

When it came to registering for classes, I feel like the process should have started earlier (that is, before we arrived).

Yes, I recommend
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Four Balanced Months Abroad

The keyword for IES Abroad’s program in Salamanca is ‘balance.’ The setting itself is about as balanced as can be, uniting a classic Spanish university town with ancient architecture and a modern, bustling city like any other in Western Europe. Given that my home school is a small school of about 1,600 students, Salamanca was perfect for me because it was big enough to be exciting, but not so large as to be overwhelming. Because of the constant influx of American and other European students into the population, Salamanca manages to possess something of the international flavor that you might find in larger Spanish cities like Madrid, Barcelona, or San Sebastián, while imparting a more intimate and welcoming cast to one’s experience. There is no shortage of cultural programming in Salamanca, which consists mostly of literary discussions or readings and theatrical productions. I was able to see a very good performance of Verdi’s opera 'Nabucco' in town for only thirty euro; a production of a similar caliber probably would cost in the hundreds of dollars in the U.S.

The nature of the program itself is also very finely tuned, as it effectively balances structure with freedom. The weeklong orientation program at the start of the semester is exhaustive (and often exhausting). However, as the semester progresses, it becomes clear that the program allows you to budget your time and plan your activities as you see fit. Nevertheless, the IES Abroad staff is always available should you need guidance with some aspect of life abroad, and the Center puts you in touch with cultural activities throughout the program, most of which are free. At least in my case, I felt that the level of counseling on classes that I received on picking classes was appropriate, although I did hear of some of my classmates having difficulties with university courses which are not frequently attended by foreign students. In particular, I cannot say enough about the mentoring program which connects local university students to IES Abroad participants—this was a major help in navigating the social scene in Salamanca.

In sum, I highly recommend IES Abroad Salamanca, with glowing reports for both the program and the city.

How can this program be improved?

In one of the local university classes I took, the professor was confused by my presence for a couple of weeks while my information was transmitted by IES to the university and processed. I think that, in the future, it would be advantageous to warn students of the confusion that may arise when they don't immediately appear on a class roster.

Yes, I recommend
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Living and Growing in Salamanca

From the moment I first stepped foot on Spanish soil, I swore to never be afraid to try new experiences, and to not let any opportunity escape my grasp. And by studying abroad through the IES Salamanca Program, I found such an amazing array of opportunities to get involved not only by taking stimulating courses on the Franco Regime, medieval literature, and a linguistics course at the local university, but also to become a part of the community through intercambios with native Spanish students and volunteerism at the local cultural center for immigrants to Salamanca as a volunteer English Instructor. In my home stay, I lived with my host mother, another American student, and our Yorkshire Terrier, Jaco. This became one of the most memorable components of my time abroad, and I can definitely say that through IES, I found my second family as a part of the experience. I still text my host mom every day, and hope to return to Salamanca to see her as well as all of the IES Abroad staff! Everyone at the center was so helpful and encouraging throughout my time there. While at first it was challenging to become adjusted to a completely new language and culture, I was pleased to find assistance and guidance throughout the entire semester, especially when I expressed interest in pursuing a volunteer opportunity within the community. We also took a lot of different trips around Spain and beyond -- during the Spring semester we were able to travel to Segovia, Toro, Zamora, Madrid, and Portugal. Not only a really fun time, these trips were a great way to form close bonds with students from across the United States in the absence of our native language and culture. I made some life-long friendships with several amazing people I met through my program, and I will never forget some of those long bus rides and the many memories we all share together. Overall, the entire semester was filled with so many different ways to become immersed in the Spanish way of life, and I can say without hesitation that my time abroad through IES became a life-changing experience, one that has shaped who I am now and who I dream to become.

Yes, I recommend
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IES Abroad Salamanca- AN IMMERSION PROGRAM (seriously, no one in my program including me knew this)!

1) Housing: If you choose to live in the dorm, you will have quick access to the faculties for Ciencias Sociales and Derecho: it is a five minute walk from your room to half of the department classes (it's a 15 minute walk to the IES center, where the mandatory IES Lengua class takes place). Also, you will have your lunch paid for on a once-per-day meal swipe (a worth of 6 euros) at one of three dining halls. The food is good, but absolutely forget eating there is you have food restrictions (like being gluten-free or vegetarian/vegan). Also, if you like healthy food like fruits and veggies, be prepared to eat lots of potatoes, plain iceberg lettuce, canned vegetables (or vegetables cooked with mystery meat) and other non-healthy food that they will claim is healthy! The dessert of any given day is your choice of a piece of fresh fruit or yogurt. As a dorm resident, you will have to pay for your breakfast, dinner and snacks. There is a small supermarket (El Dia) about 5 minutes away, and a larger all-purpose one (Marcadona) about 15 minutes away. There is also a small gym, study rooms on every floor, inexpensive wash/dry (4 euros per load), and a gaming room (billiards, tv, ext). If you are in a home stay: know that your food schedule is completely decided by your host family. The food is not always varied, but they are able to accommodate food allergies/restrictions. There is even a family that is great with providing food for those with Celiac-- the moral of the story is don't pick your housing based on food restrictions! As a student staying in a home stay, you also will have more of the money you saved/brought to spend on what you want (instead of what you need) because your host family will provide three meals a day and snacks. Be ware that host families can be a little overbearing and/or may not want you in their space-- they do not always consider you part of their families. Some students who lived in home stays were not allowed to be anywhere in the house except their rooms and the dining room (and especially not allowed in the family room where the tv was).

2) Internet: You need a connecter for the ethernet. Some laptops ave it built in, others you will need to buy a convertor for the thunderbolt (for Mac, not sure about PCs). The dorms do not have wifi in the rooms, but fast and reliable internet on the ethernet. You can also set it up so your computer emits wifi (just look it up) so you have it on your phone in your room. In the home stays it is hit-or-miss: some houses are great, others have spotty internet.

3) Walking: be prepared to walk everywhere. Two weeks after your arrival here in Salamanca, you will think a 20 minute walk is short. On average, I walked 6 miles a day in Salamanca without even trying. From the dorm to the IES building, it's about a 15 minute direct-route, downhill walk (nearby there is a dining hall). It is about 5 minutes to the Ciencias Sociales/Derecho faculties, about a 5 minute walk to the nearest dining hall, about 20 minutes to the Plaza Mayor, about 15 minutes to calle Van Dyck (a well-known, tapa bar street), and about 25 minutes to the Cathedral (and the plaza that has the Filologia/Language faculty). If you live in a home stay, it can be hit-or-miss. I suggest that you put location as one of your top priorities for housing because it will make your life much, much easier! No home stay was more than 25 minutes away from the IES center (which is about 5-6 minutes away from the Plaza Mayor).

4) Communication while in Salamanca: you are required to have a phone where you can be reached while in Salamanca with IES. Some students used their US phone and cell number. Others bought the Spanish SIM card (usually from a store named Orange) and added euros to it as necessary. Still others had two phones: their home one and a cheap (about 40 euro) flip-phone with a Spanish SIM card. Do what is best for you, but know that it is IES policy to have a working phone with you at all times!

5) Registering for classes: GOOD LUCK. The IES staff here are the least organized people. They also don't seem to care to help you, yet have all these obligatory/mandatory titles on everything. It was BS.

Overall, I loved my time, made great friends and got to travel plenty while still getting to know Salamanca but if I could do it all over again, I would do Madrid if I was studying in Spain.

No, I don't recommend
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Melting pot of cultures

My favorite memory includes Spanish, French, Italian and American students cooking traditional dishes to celebrate "la noche vieja universitaria"! Salamanca will give you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the beautiful cultures of the world we live in while perfecting the castellano language and learning about Spain's captivating past and present.

Yes, I recommend
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Loaded with history, lacking academics (Salamanca, Spain)

Typical Day:
8:15 am: wake up, eat breakfast (cereal)
8:45: Walk to class (10-15 minutes)
9-11: Class at the Universidad de Salamanca
12:45-1:45pm: Required grammar class with IES
2-3: Lunch @ home, prepared by host mom.
4-6: Spanish Cinema class with IES
7-8: Art History class at Universidad de Salamanca
9-9:30- Dinner, cooked by host mom
10 onward- relax/homework

Though my schedule changed from day to day, this is pretty typical during Monday through Thursday. Highlights for my time included the most wonderful host mom, a great roommate, fun classes with IES, fieldtrips with IES, and the ability to travel during the 3 day weekends most students had (if they didn't schedule Friday classes at the University).

Difficulties included: being very, VERY frustrated with the lack of work with my university classes and the fact that Spanish students rarely participated in class and instead spent the times on their phones or talking with each other. It was difficult to have about 70-80% of my final grade based on the final because we never had any homework (reading/writing) during the semester and no midterm to see how you were comprehending the material. I often had to look to outside sources to understand my classes better. Some students chose to take more classes with IES, whereas I only took the grammar class and one other. You have to decide whether you want a more challenging semester with credits that will transfer to your major/minor at your home university or whether you want to try direct and roll and understand the culture better.

My social life in Salamanca was great--the city is beautiful and there is TONS to do during the day (museums, shops, parks, cafes, etc) as well as at night (bars, clubs etc.) Be prepared to be forced to be social. It was difficult for me at first but I eventually got used to it. Spanish students are sometimes uninterested in foreigners because there are so many, but I was good friends with the two Spanish student assistants who worked for IES and I made some other European friends in my university classes.

All in all, loved my experience in Salamanca even though I was supremely disappointed by the level of local academics.

How can this program be improved?

The program should work harder to accommodate the schedule to fit the universities. main issue: the grammar class went from 12:45-1:45 which created a problem because there were a lot of 11-1 or 1-3 classes at the local universities. This created a conflict when we signed up for classes because it eliminated a lot. I also would have liked to have had a little warning for the lack of work I did for my university classes, though that may just have been my luck with the classes I happened to choose or the university professors I happened to have. (Greatly enjoyed both my IES classes.)

Yes, I recommend
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My time abroad

What at first I thought was extremely cumbersome eventually became one of my favorite things. I am talking about my daily 25 minute walk to and from classes. At the beginning of the program I would hate it but by the programs end I became to love and enjoy strolling the streets flooded with people and excitement.

Yes, I recommend
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Study in Salamanca Success

I am very glad I chose IES Abroad for my study abroad experience this past spring. The staff was all very knowledgeable and helpful, and I ended up assimilating into the culture very well through their help. My host mother was wonderful, and cooked wonderful meals all semester. I chose to take both program classes and university classes, and I'm really glad I chose to do it that way. I wasn't overwhelmed with taking classes with Spanish students, but I was able to still experience the Spanish university system. Salamanca is a wonderful city that's not too big and not too small, so it was relatively easy to become familiar with the city itself, which was great. The history surrounding Salamanca is almost unreal, with famous people living there such as Christopher Columbus, Cervantes, Miguel Unamuno, and other very famous Spaniards. Another wonderful thing is that the food was absolutely delicious. Salamanca is known to have some of the best and cheapest food in the country, so I was able to try a bunch of different kinds of Spanish foods, which is one of my favorite parts. Now that I'm back in the US, I can't stop thinking about the next time I will be able to go back.

How can this program be improved?

The flaws regarding tis program are very minimal. If I had to change one thing, it would probably be administrative knowledge. Although the staff was always willing to help, sometimes there were miscommunications in regards to what certain students needed or wanted to communicate. Registering for university classes was a tiny bit frustrating because I feel there was a tiny bit of a disconnect between what the students found important and what the advisors found important. It all worked out, though and was a very minimal dilemma. I would more consider it to be something frustrating, if anything.

Yes, I recommend
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A solid program

I lived in a home stay in a fantastic location in the historic area of the city. My courses were interesting and I was able to study at the local university as well as within the program. Independent travel was definitely a highlight of my experience, and course registration was surprisingly onerous. Overall I thought this was a good experience.

Yes, I recommend
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Challenge yourself in a new culture

If you're looking to immerse yourself fully in a different culture, then Salamanca is the place for you. Very minimal English is spoken amongst the locals, comprised mostly of university students. This gives you the greatest opportunity to learn a second-language!
Additionally, everything is within walking distance, so you don't have to worry about public transportation in the town. If you're looking for a challenge, sign up for a home stay and test your language skills with a family.

Yes, I recommend
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Semester in Salamanca

The program staff was extremely supportive and always willing to answer any questions that I had about anything from courses to customs for my host family to travel arrangements. My host family has been hosting American students for almost twenty years, so they knew how to make me feel very welcomed, including sharing delicious meals with me three times a day.

I would definitely recommend this program to anyone who wants to experience a culture first-hand. It was an incredible opportunity to learn!

Yes, I recommend
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Salamanca - an ideal Study Abroad city

I would recommend Salamanca 100 times over to any student looking to study abroad in Spain. A smaller, manageable, and less expensive alternative to living in Madrid, this city has a real Castellano feel. The academic program, run by IES and staffed by university professors, was as challenging as it should have been and no more, giving us time to explore the city and the rest of Spain on the weekends. IES also allowed us to take classes at the University (a great experience, but don't expect to make long-lasting friends with Spanish students - they couldn't care less about you).

Most of us lived with wonderful families who had longstanding relationships with IES, and some lived in student housing and did make local friends. My madre took great care of my roommate and me, made the best paella and tortilla I've tasted to this day, and didn't hesitate to correct our Spanish to help us improve. Our IES group went on a few trips to Segovia, Sevilla, Granada, and a bull fight.

Salamanca is full of treasures - the Plaza Mayor and its cafes selling leche helada, tapas on Cafe Van Dyck, the delicious cookies sold by the nuns at Convento de las Duenas, late night churros con chocolate, and the hundreds of bars (gringo and local) along Calle de la Gran Via. I highly recommend going during the school year, when the city is packed to its gills with Spanish students. We arrived in the last two weeks of Summer, and the town completely transformed when the official semester began.

Yes, I recommend

About IES Abroad

IES Abroad offers 140 programs worldwide for college students. We are a highly charged force of study abroad enthusiasts. Every day we have the privilege of witnessing how study abroad changes our students’ lives. We also believe that every student...