Studying abroad is a very independent experience. At times it feels both lonely and empowering to be far from home all by yourself. One thing that has been most helpful in my adjustment has been establishing new roots for myself here in Salamanca. Making friends allowed me to create a support system for myself, so that whenever I struggle, I know I have a network of people that will carry me through it. It drastically improved my sense of belonging and well-being here in Spain and is, in my opinion, one of the most important parts of a successful study abroad experience.
So for all of those who are nervous about studying abroad, or have already began their journey and are in the process of creating their own support network, here are my tips on how to meet locals, and eventually friends, in Salamanca, Spain.
Find Out About Local Festivities
Salamanca is vibrant city that is teaming with tourism and culture. There is always something to do in Salamanca. From festivals, to concerts, to community outreach, I have yet to have a dull day here in this incredible city.
My arrival coincided with the beginning of a week of city-wide celebration, in which dozens of restaurants set up outdoor booths called casetas, selling specialty tapas. Locals and tourists alike flooded the streets each night to enjoy the festivities, which also included live music in the Plaza Mayor, daily open-air theatre performances in La Plaza de Anaya, and parades of college students in silly costumes singing in the streets. It was a week full of great opportunities to go out and meet students my age.
Just outside the city there is a park called Salas Bajas. On any given day, locals can be seen there playing team sports like rugby, tennis, and football. I recently joined a roller derby team, and discovered that joining a team, or even just asking to jump in on a pick-up game of Frisbee in the park can be another great way to meet new people and start forming new friendships. Plus it’s great exercise!
Take Advantage of Your Organization
Every week ISA puts out a newsletter that includes all of the cultural events that are happening around town, such as theatrical performances and exhibits at local museums.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit the Medieval Market, where local vendors sell crafts and foods similar to those that would have been made in the middle ages. It was something akin to a Renaissance festival in the US, and I enjoyed the feeling of stepping back in time. The week prior, we joined up with an environmental organization to lead a recycling and planting workshop at the fairground. We taught locals how to plant strawberries in hanging planters made from recycled materials. This week ISA handed out free tickets to the modern art museum. In the future there will be dance classes, movie nights, and much more. ISA has been a great resource in helping me get involved. Don’t forget to take full advantage of the services they provide!
Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.