Home Alumni Alumni Spotlight: Niki’s Summer Abroad in Salamanca, Spain

Alumni Spotlight: Niki’s Summer Abroad in Salamanca, Spain

by AIFS Abroad
AIFS Abroad student while studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to study abroad in Salamanca, Spain? This charming city in northern Spain has so much to offer college students interested in a global education experience, and we happen to offer programs there all year round! We recently caught up with Niki, an AIFS Alumni Ambassador and a Fairfield University student who spent a summer abroad in Salamanca for the experience of a lifetime. She shared a little bit about what a typical day in her life is like with the hopes that it will inspire prospective students to take the leap and do it, too.

Getting the inside scoop from alumni about their time abroad can help inform your decision! Hear from Niki about her daily experiences in Salamanca.

Morning Routine

Rise and shine! Waking up in the Golden City isn’t like waking up for class on your home university’s campus. As your feet will hit the floor, you’ll be met with gorgeous views of 4th century buildings outside your window and the sounds of people walking the cobblestone streets. In Niki’s case, she got up around 8:00 AM in her homestay, as she lived with a host family during her summer study abroad program.

“Breakfast is a family affair with my Señor and Señora. At around 8:30 in the morning, we would all sit down together and talk about what we were going to do that day while eating breakfast. Breakfast there was usually on the smaller side, consisting of a muffin or a piece of toast along with a pot of coffee or tea.”

But wait, isn’t breaking bread with a family you’ve just met a little tough with language barriers? Not for Niki!

“[Our host family was] incredibly warm and welcoming. They went out of their way to ensure that we felt comfortable and at home… Despite the language barrier (since they only spoke Spanish), communication was never an issue. In fact, it was an excellent opportunity for us to immerse ourselves in the Spanish language and culture. Our hosts were patient and understanding, always willing to help us find the right words when we got stuck in a conversation even if it meant playing charades.”

University Life

After starting the day out right with a hearty breakfast that’s traditional to Salamanca, it’s time to venture to class! As a university town full of students from all over the world, you’ll make your way to the University of Salamanca alongside other students — both local and international. When it comes to classes, Niki shares:

“After breakfast, my roommate and I would head to the Universidad de Salamanca for classes from 9:00 am to noon. I took 2 classes — one that was 2 hours long and one that was 1 hour long. The classes were both really entertaining and I think that they greatly helped me improve my Spanish-speaking skills. I also met a lot of friends in the university who were also abroad and from a variety of different countries which was really interesting.

My courses in Salamanca provided a unique perspective on my field of study. Interacting with professors and students from different backgrounds broadened my horizons and enhanced my academic growth.”

University of Salamanca in Spain
University of Salamanca

After Class Adventures

Who wouldn’t love a little pick-me-up after a long morning of putting the “study” in “study abroad”? It’s the perfect time to gather with your new friends and meander through the city to your favorite local spots. Niki’s post-class routine included grabbing a traditional Spanish pastry with others on her program and making memories together:

“Post-classes, it’s time to roam the streets of Salamanca. A visit to a nearby bakery is a must—sweet pastries, anyone? This was the typical routine for me and my friends we would always go to this one little bakery in the Plaza Mayor of Salamanca where we would always try something new. Then we would walk around the town and explore before it was time to return to our host families for lunch. Whether it’s exploring markets, boutiques, or just chilling in the park, every moment is a chance to soak in the local vibes.”

Lunch and Host Family Bonding

You may have heard of the Spanish tradition of “siesta.” While Americans tend to think of this as a time to take a nap (and some do!), it’s more frequently used as a break during the day to reconnect with family over lunch. When you live with a host family during your study abroad experience like Niki did in Salamanca, you’ll find this part of the day incredibly meaningful, should you take advantage of it.

“Around 1:30 pm, my roommate and I [would] head back to the homestay for lunch. More than just a meal, it’s an opportunity to connect with our host family.”

Afternoon Tapas

A staple in Spanish culture, tapas are small plates that are meant to be shared and enjoyed amongst friends with a drink. Grabbing tapas in the late afternoon is a great way for study abroad students to try new things and dabble in local cuisine alongside locals. It’s not just a way to grab a snack — it’s a way to connect.

“Around 4:00 PM, Salamanca gears up for tapas. My friends and I had one favorite tapas restaurant even though we explored a lot of different ones. This tapas restaurant had a variety of small sandwiches and appetizers along with our favorites their potatoes. We would usually hang out at the tapas restaurant for a while before going for a walk.”

tapas in spain
Tapas in Spain

Dinner

In Spanish culture, dinner is a bit later than what we’re used to in the United States. It’s not uncommon for Spanish families and locals to eat anywhere between 8:00 PM and 11:00 PM! While this can be an adjustment for study abroad students, Niki saw the silver lining during her summer in Salamanca:

“It wasn’t long before it was time for dinner at 8:00 PM where I would tell my host family about my day and ask them about theirs. This was a great chance to get to know them and also practice my Spanish.

[Food] was more than just sustenance; it was a window into Spanish culture and cuisine. From paella to churros, we savored every bite and learned the importance of food in Spanish daily life.”

Reflecting on the Experience

Doing a study abroad program can be life-changing. Now that she’s a member of the AIFS Abroad alumni community, Niki can reflect on the impact of her summer in Salamanca.

“Studying abroad can be intimidating, but it’s a transformative experience that is well worth the initial challenges. My time in Salamanca taught me that with determination and an open mind, you can overcome any obstacle and make the most of this incredible opportunity. By embracing the unknown, I not only improved my Spanish language skills but also gained a deeper understanding of the world and myself. So, if you’re considering studying abroad in Salamanca or anywhere else, I wholeheartedly encourage you to take the plunge. It might just be the most rewarding adventure of your life.”

Ready to take the leap and study abroad? We’d love to help you start your journey!

Here at AIFS Abroad, we know a thing or two about helping college students and pre-professionals study and intern abroad. Our programs are incredibly inclusive, which takes a lot of the stress out of planning. From coordinating your housing to providing things like cultural and social activities, excursions, comprehensive insurance, 24/7 emergency support, on-site staff, and more, you’ll take comfort in knowing you’ll have support throughout your entire experience abroad.

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