Around three years ago, the 18 year old me happily accepted a last minute clearing offer from the University of Sheffield for LLB Law with Spanish Law (and a compulsory third year adventure abroad). Third year felt so far away and the actual logistics of how it would all work were a task for future Stef and not then. All I knew was that I wanted the experience of living abroad, meeting new people from all around the world and making my Law degree more than just a degree in English law. Two years have flown past, and after an 8 hour journey from home to Spain feeling like Tomy Ali Baba’s bucking camel (childhood game where you hook as much as you can on the camel before it jumps up at you), I’m now happily settled in Salamanca, northern Spain.
So what’s it been like?
Firstly, the Spanish social clock is very, very different. 9am to 2pm is business time, then there is around 2-3 hours of siesta (sleep and rest time, yay!) where the majority of shops close. Afterwards, many business open again until 10pm. Eating dinner before 10pm is seen as strange, arriving at a party before midnight is unheard of and many clubs don’t open until 3am… the time when you can normally find myself and my British friends feasting on chips and garlic bread ready to go home… I feel even the educational system for university here has adjusted to this social cycle as the dreaded post night out 9am lectures are quite rare and some days, my classes don’t start until 7pm in the evening.
Secondly, Salamanca is beautiful. My walks to the Law school and casual strolls around the city are never ever an eye-sore. From traditionally old buildings and small artesian shops to churros stalls and modern graffiti art painted by local students with permission of the council, the city is a perfect blend of the old and the new. I also arrived at a high-point in the annual social calendar of the city, midway through the Feria de Salamanca (Festival). With the city heaving of people celebrating everything Salamancan (not sure if that’s a word), there was always something to do – from tapas bars in the streets and free live music in the Plazor Mayor (main square) to riding camels in the park and watching children practicing to be matadors with an older boy pretending to be a bull.
Thirdly, being such a student city, I have met so many amazing people! Salamanca is a popular destination for international students from across the world from places such as Brazil and Japan, on the other hand it’s also been a small world when bumping into students from my home county in England. I think what I’ve loved the most about the students is the general community feeling of being abroad, we’re all away from home and speaking in some pretty broken Spanish (for now). In my classes, I have met some really welcoming Spanish students who have kindly shared their Spanish apuntes (notes) with me and slowly explained what the professors have said. At each social event, you’re almost guaranteed to make at least one new friend and one new friend after another soon adds up to many friendly faces and happy greetings when wandering around Salamanca.
So far, it’s been amazing and I’m so excited to see what the forthcoming year will bring. If you’re at the stage where you’re debating whether or not to do a year abroad, I would definitely be voting yes!
PS. If you want to see regular photos of my Salamancan adventures, check out my Instagram. 🙂