The morning started at 2:30AM; goodbye redeemed sleep schedule! We had an hour bus ride to the London airport, a two hour flight to Madrid, and then another two hour bus ride to Salamanca. To be honest, I felt terrible from lack of sleep after days of nonstop movement and adventure, but I was still very excited to meet my roommate and host mom/Señora. She picked us up from the bus stop with another woman who had been her resident student seven years ago and was visiting, and the two of them walked my roommate and I to our new home.
For those who are curious, here are some of my first impressions on the home, the city, and the people I’ve met:
- My Señora is wonderful. She’s been doing this for a long time, and she lives alone but she has family that live on the next floor of the apartment complex. She also has a dog who is perfect and a huge comfort. Also, she has not spoken a single word of English since I got here, which is wonderful and challenging and intimidating, but I think we’ve done a decent job of understanding and communicating with her. I’m just excited to get better at Spanish and be able to have better conversations with her. She also makes sure we feel like this is our home, is a great cook, and will definitely not let us go hungry. (For people who know me pretty well, she’s already offered us ice cream twice, so I think it’s going to be pretty great.)
- My roommate is also great. She described herself to me as being “easy” or low-maintenance which is what my family has always said about me, so I think that is going to work out really well. She’s very nice, also loves our Spanish dog, and also wants to be very respectful to our Señora. She’s also really good at navigating the city which is a bonus. We have a nice room with plenty of space for all of our things, and together I think we understand our Señora pretty well.
- The city is very beautiful. There are lots of stores, but the signs are all pretty small so they don’t overshadow the architecture. I didn’t take many pictures today because I was mostly taking it all in, but I definitely will soon so I can share them. Everything is cobblestone streets and beautifully carved stone, and pedestrians seem to have more right of way than cars around the main part of the city. The streets are somewhat narrow and tall buildings run all around them, so it’s difficult for me to know where I’m going, but I’m sure I will figure that out soon. My apartment is just a five minute walk from the famous Plaza Mayor (in the picture above) and very close to school. Ultimately, it’s a gorgeous city and I am very excited to explore it!
After arrival and lunch at around 4:00, we relaxed during the siesta time, which apparently our Señora takes very seriously. Then we showered and went out for a walking tour of the city with an AIFS representative and dinner at a nice restaurant. All of the students in my program and our program director shared multiple dishes, including patatas bravas, salad, a Spanish tortilla (which was like a potato/egg bread), calamari, and the famous paella. To drink they gave us sangria. The food was great, the atmosphere was nice, and we got to learn more about Spanish customs as well as the other people in the program.
Overall, my first day/night in Salamanca was wonderful. I feel extremely welcome and at home with our director, the other students, and my new temporary family. I am excited for the challenge of really learning this language and getting outside of myself and even the program to really immerse in the culture. And now that I’m not traveling quite as hectically, I can start taking time to write more thoughtful/in depth posts!