4 weeks of work and 5 1/2 weeks until I depart for Spain for just over 3 months. This will be my longest time abroad and will long surpass my 5 week trip to Peru three summers ago. While I am filled with excitement and anticipation, I'm nervous to be going away for so long. I know I will be homesick for the first few weeks, but I'm hoping I will adjust quickly and fall in love with living in Europe. For those of you who don't know exactly why I am going and what I'll be doing, I will do a quick summary.
I have been working on learning Spanish for many years. I started learning in middle school, continued through high school and college and now through summer trips to Latin America. While my language skills are o.k., they are not to a level in which I can actually do something with the language. My long term goal is to get my World Language and Cultures teaching license so I am able to teach Spanish. I have been working in Special Education for a long time and am itching for a change. I love languages and Spanish is the best choice since I already have a solid base. It has long been apparent to me that I need to live abroad for more than a few weeks to get a good handle on the language through immersion. I will be living in Salamanca, Spain and taking Spanish classes at the University there. I chose Salamanca for a few reasons. One, my friend Ana who is originally from Spain, mentioned it when I was asking about where to go. Second, a woman from the Spanish department at the U of Mn also mentioned it to me when I was there for an oral proficiency exam. Finally, after doing further research, Salamanca is in a region where they speak fairly "clear" Spanish, meaning it is not a region of strong dialects and other versions of the language such as Catalan. So that is how I ended up choosing Salamanca. Here is a map of Spain so you can see where it is.
Here is a little information about Salamanca that I cut from a website:
Salamanca is part of the Spanish region known as “Castilla y León” (Castile and Leon). Despite being a medium-size city (with around 170.000
inhabitants), Salamanca is famous in the world for its culture and for its student atmosphere. In fact, the University of Salamanca is said to be the third
oldest university in Europe, founded in 1218.
Located in the western part of Spain, right besides the border with Portugal, Salamanca is in the inner part of the country, 200 kilometers west of
Madrid, which made it difficult to reach for tourists. Thanks to the recently renewed airport of Valladolid, which offers flights with Ryanair and Air
France, now Salamanca is an accessible destination, only at a one-hour drive from Valladolid.
Tourism is probably the most outstanding industry of the city, thanks to its historical heritage and to the charm of the city itself, since Salamanca can
be considered one of the most beautiful Spanish cities. It is also in Salamanca, where the purest Spanish (or "Castellano") is spoken, which makes the
city a popular destination for students wanting to learn Spanish.
Weather conditions in Salamanca are quite extreme, with cold winter, hot summers and few rain.
In its gastronomy pork meat is the star, the cured hams produced in Guijuelo, a village in the Southern part of Salamanca, are among the most famous
Salamanca has been declared World Heritage City by the Unesco, and in 2002, it was chosen as European City of Culture, together with Bruges in
Belgium. Dance, music and art filled the streets of the city, and remain still today. You will surely enjoy your visit to Salamanca.
Stay tuned! I will update my blog regularly when I'm in Spain. Please feel free to make comments! I am also excited to hear from all of you from home. It helps with homesickness :-)