Anyone who knows me well enough will be familiar with my overwhelming love of crisp winter days and my corresponding disliking of the summer heat. This raises the question: why am I moving to Spain, a country notorious for its unfailing supply of sunshine?
In an attempt to avoid the scorching remnants of summer as I uproot my life at the beginning of September, I fittingly chose to move to the (slightly milder) north of Spain, in an ancient university town called Salamanca, 200 km north-west of Madrid. The Spanish spoken there is pure and equivalent to ‘the Queen’s English’. Host to the oldest university in Spain and abundant historical architecture, it is no surprise this place has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It will become my home for the next five months as I try to convince you there’s much more to Spanish culture than just the Costa del Sol.
With less than two weeks left until I jet off, final preparations are well underway and a few teary-eyed goodbyes have already been said. However, I have undeniably been embracing the ‘mañana’ approach to my year abroad. Due to my indecisiveness on when to actually arrive, I only booked my flight a few days ago. The good news is a flight to Madrid and the connecting bus to Salamanca cost less than my termly train to Durham; only £18 on Ryanair means there is no excuse for people not to visit (friends- take note!)
Although you hear of many people fearlessly rocking up to their year abroad and finding a place to live once they get there, I decided- partly to reassure my parents- that it is always nice knowing you have somewhere to live. Via the wonders of Facebook and Whatsapp (which Spaniards hilariously call ‘wasap’), I’ve found a flat to share with an eclectic mix of Europeans: two Spaniards, two Belgians and a Portuguese girl. The least I can wish for is an intercultural experience… and hopefully not too much stick for Brexit. It also presents the perfect opportunity to not only improve my Spanish but to fine-tune my French and pick up some more Portuguese along the way!
I decided to rope my older brother into flying out with me to Salamanca since he was in the exact same situation two years ago. Being a fan of the heat- unlike me- he spent his year abroad in the south of Spain in Granada and has since had endless good stories to tell. With this in mind, I booked him a flight and am waiting for him to impart his immeasurable wisdom on me.
Since orientation is not my forte, let’s hope he will help me find my bearings of a new city. Fortunately, I’ve heard that Salamanca is not too big and has even been compared to a Spanish version of Durham! Before lectures start on the 16th September, I’m hoping I will have found my feet and sorted out some of the unavoidable chores that need doing: setting up a bank account and a phone contract and choosing modules await me!
Look out for my next post where I’ll be writing about my first impressions of the so-called ‘golden city’…