Salamanca – A Golden City Steeped in History and Education

This past July I had the pleasure of participating in a Short International Program (SIP) in Salamanca, Spain.

Salamanca is located in the community of Castile and Leon, in the north-west region of Spain.  I attended Spanish lessons in the morning at Universidad Pontifical de Salamanca, and I spent my afternoons and weekends sightseeing.

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School

Spanish lessons consisted of the basics – counting (cero, uno, dos, tres…), eating (yo como…), drinking (tu bebes…), days of the week (lunes, martes, miércoles…), months (Enero, Febrero, Marzo…), and colours (negro, blanco, naranja, roza…).  Did you know that there are 27 letters in the Spanish alphabet?  The additional letter is between N and O and looks like this – ñ – and is used in words like “niño” and “niña”.
Even though our classes were 4 hours a day for 4 weeks, we learned quite a bit in that short time span.  Everything from animals to different verbs to family members, we learned it.  During our last week was our final exam, graduation and grad party.  Graduation Day was absolutely one of my best days in Salamanca.

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Culture

When I wasn’t learning in the classroom, I immersed myself in Spanish culture, which is its own education in and of itself.

My first week in Salamanca coincided with 4th of July celebrations, and those of us that found our way to Plaza Mayor was fortunate enough to be serenaded by a mariachi band.  That weekend I rented a bike, grabbed a map and took off on my own Tour de Salamanca.  The city is small and compact with loads of bike trails, so it was very easy to navigate.  I rode along a Roman bridge, through Jesuit Parque that had a pond in the middle of the park, filled with swans and ducks.

That same week my flatmates and I went to a Flamenco show which was outstanding, and the rest of the audience must have agreed as shouts of “Ole!” and “Guapa!” came from the crowd.

Being the adventurous type, I took a bus from Salamanca to Saville – the capital of Andalusia community one weekend.

First up was the Real Alcázar, which is Spanish for Royal Palace.  The palace is still the primary residence used by the royal family and certain rooms were closed to the public.  I have no words to describe just how drop-dead beautiful this palace was.  Gorgeous doesn’t even come close to describing its stunning beauty.  I could’ve spent all day there and still not see everything.  Everywhere you looked, there was art to be found, even on the ceiling!  The palace is the perfect mixture of Christian and Arabic influences.  And if I was gobsmacked by the inside of the palace, I had a shock waiting for me on the outside.  Real Alcázar has not one, not two, but three gardens, the next one more beautiful than the last!

Up next was Plaza España (Spain Square) which was walking distance from Real Alcázar.  Also another piece of stunning architecture, that was relatively quite new compared to Real Alcázar.  Plaza España was built in the 1800s for the Ibero-American Exposition World’s Fair.  It is a semi-circular park with a large and beautiful water fountain in the middle and a pond that surrounds it.  You can rent rowboats that take you around the pond and under gorgeous bridges.  While exploring Plaza España I ran into impromptu Flamenco dancers and singer.  I ended my day with tapas and a well-deserved sangria.

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Trips

My final weekend in Spain was by far, the best of my entire trip! Our school organized weekend trips for my classmates and me so that we could practice our Spanish.  On Saturday my classmates and I went to Segovia to see the Roman Aqueduct, Alcázar of Segovia, and Segovia Cathedral, which was absolutely beautiful.  Alcázar of Segovia is now used as a war museum and had a very pretty garden in the shape of a maze. 20180721_111923

After lunch, we made our way to Avila, which was only a short bus ride away from Segovia.  Avila is famous for its medieval wall, which provides beautiful views of nearby cathedrals and the town.  On Sunday, some of my classmates and I went on one of the school-organized weekly beach trips to playa Suances.  Suances is a 3.5-hour drive north of Salamanca and it was the best 35 euros I’ve ever spent.  The beaches were spectacular, clean and not over-crowded, the ocean wasn’t cold, and the weather was hot, hot, hot!

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What I’m going to miss about Spain and Salamanca particularly is the manana lifestyle and siestas (seriously). I’m definitely going to miss the food, the beautiful architecture, the gorgeous beaches, and going to bed every night to this view.

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If you get a chance to participate in a SIP, I highly recommend it!
You won’t regret it!

Ouida Shiers – SIP, Salamanca, Spain

Want to experience a SIP yourself?

When in Oviedo…

¡Hola! 

My name is Jodie and I am in the Travel and Tourism program. I did the SIP program in Oviedo, Spain, which is located in the Asturias region (north of Spain), for the month of July. I applied to the SIP programs for the fun of it and to be quite honest, I didn’t expect to get in. But to my surprise, I got an interview and then found out I was accepted to the program while I was away in Colombia.

Before I departed Canada
From Toronto, connecting in Brussels, and finally Madrid

Before departing to Spain, I knew some Spanish but I didn’t know enough to have a conversation with somebody or even ask for help. I only learned on my own by listening to Spanish music, watching telenovelas, and by observation whenever I visited Colombia. I was scared when I arrived to Madrid because I didn’t feel comfortable speaking Spanish since I lacked the confidence. This quickly changed because I was forced to speak Spanish since that was the sole purpose of me going therefore I needed to try. Also, majority of the people in Oviedo didn’t speak English because it wasn’t a city with many tourists.

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I was in the Intermediate I Spanish class and my teacher didn’t speak ANY English. At first I thought this was a little bit of a challenge but this actually helped me improve my listening skills. My conversations class not only gave me the opportunity to practice speaking, it also helped me to be more confident to speak. With the help of all three of my teachers, Lorena, Pablo, and Gloria, my Spanish has improved in every aspect.

To wrap it up, I was genuinely sad to leave Spain and I actually cried while I was on the bus to get to Madrid’s airport. I will never forget Oviedo’s overwhelming architecture, the relaxing lifestyle, and all the people I have encountered during my stay. I have a lot of stories to share about Oviedo and these pictures and videos posted don’t do much justice. One thing I could say is that this was definitely a life changing experience for me and I would do this again in a heartbeat. Te extraño mucho, Oviedo. ❤

Besitos,

Jodie

 

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SIP – Alcala de Henares

Hello,

My name is Yonghui. I have stayed in Alcala de Henares, Spain, for a month with my wife studying Spanish and traveling around. Alcala is the city where I would love to spend the rest of my life after retirement.  People are nice and kind, city is not too crowded, beautiful and natural… It is such a blessed city! Thank you for this great opportunity.

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Study Love in Spain.

Alcala de Henares, Madrid, Spain

Hello everyone!

My name is Bianca, 20 years old. I am Brazilian and this Summer of 2017 I have been part of the Summer International Program in Spain.

The total length of the program was one month (August). As you might already know, it is one of the hottest months of the year in Europe, so obviously I was melting everyday over there; but I can’t really complain about it. Everyday I would wake up with this huge sunlight coming into my window, would have breakfast with my lovely Spanish family and go to school by walking and laughing with the best roommates in the world.

During class, I will admit, we have learned a LOT of Spanish. All of the professors would only speak Spanish, so we had no other choice than learned it (some would say by the hard way, I would say by the funny way lol).

After class, me and my friends used to go out for lunch and everyday try a different Spanish dish. So on Mondays, for example, we decided to always go out for Tapas, which is kind of (INCREDIBLE DELICIOUS) side dishes given to you when you ordered any drink. Unfortunately, I don’t have any picture of it, cause I was always starving for lunch after class. PS. OUR CLASS USED TO FINISH AT 3PM, so you can imagine how hungry we were.

So having lunch, we normally went back home to take a nap because of the SIESTA. As Spanish people says “dormir la siesta”. Can you think of any better way to spend your day with a full belly? We slept around one hour and went back to streets for shopping, or eating more, or visiting some new places. The funny thing is, our small city would be completely empty from 3pm to 5pm. I guessed everyone was also taking a nap. But as I mentioned, the same time we went back to the streets, everyone else was also there, which always meant partyyyyyyyyy!!!

So from there to night time, the city was really alive and we had a lot of fun. I have many stories I could tell here, but I think I will just live some pictures from my GREAT Spanish adventure. Love to share my experience =)

 

 

 

SIP Salamanca

Stepping into the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca for the first time was an unbelievable experience. The school was beautiful and old and bigger than I ever imagined. The first day we had an orientation where we were split into classes where we took a placement test to determine our level of Spanish. Following this we went on a tour of Scala Coeli, a large bell tower with an amazing view of the city. Over the course of my two week stay in Spain, I met many new people, ate delicious food, and learned a lot of new Spanish words and phrases. The teachers at the university were excellent. We had writing class in the morning then lunch and afterwards pronunciation class. The accommodations at the university residence were perfect, I had wifi, 3 meals a day, and my own room (with its own bathroom). The food was great at the residence and there were lots of options for every meal. There were many different people staying at the residence who I go to know during my trip. In addition to classes at the university, I visited an art museum and a car museum while in Salamanca, as well as a cathedral that took over 200 years to build. Overall, I had amazing time on the SIP Salamanca and I cannot wait to revisit Spain in my future travels.

 

La Rioja SIP 2017

Hola chicos!

My name is Tobi and I am a second year Baking and Pastry Arts Management program student. I attended the SIP this summer at the University of Logrono, Spain. I stayed in a residence close to the university and got to experience all the flavours and colours of Spanish life. I arrived in Spain, knowing very little Spanish. It was definitely a culture shock not understanding everyone speaking around me…and to me. However, as each day progressed over the four weeks, I learned more and more. I met some amazing locals along the way and even had the opportunity to hike one of the mountains in the area with local friends.

Spanish culture is amazing! The siesta  – they are not kidding about this. Many businesses close by 3pm and do not open until after 5pm…and for good reason too. It is hot in Spain in the summer! Temperatures can soar during this time and it can be just plain uncomfortable to be outside at times given my Toronto blood! The days are longer and dinner starts later, after 9pm. The food is unbelievable and I recommend to everyone to sample the wonderful variety of tapas (or pintxos in Basque language). My favourite is patatas bravas. Fried potatoes plus liquid mayo plus tomato sauce is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

In terms of the course, I took level A1 Spanish and was in a class of about 13 other students from all over the world ranging from South Korea to Australia to the Ukraine. We each shared our cultures and truly embodied the beauty of diversity. We all successfully completed the course through the caring guidance of the most charismatic and engaging profesora. I started the course a bit intimidated over whether I would be able to grasp the concepts. I finished more eager than ever to tackle the next level. It was an absolutely life changing experience and I recommend a global experience such as this to anyone. I met some amazing people, was immersed in a vibrant culture and have lots of stories to last a lifetime. Thank you SAGE and Centennial College!

Hasta luego,

Tobi

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Studying at Oviedo of Spain is an unforgettable journey in summer of 2016

by Meiling Miao

I am so lucky and I feel so proud of being a Centennial College student. This summer, I was selected to learn different language and culture in another Country- Spain by Summer International Programs. Fortunately, it is second time to be selected. Life is a continuous journey. Some journeys are short and some long. Some journeys are unforgettable to be erased by the sands of time. The journey of Spain I had was one memorable experience.

I was arranged living with a local family called a homestay. We lived along with each other, just like a real family even we were not able to communicate too much by language barrier in the beginning. My homestay mother is an elegant and knowledgeable lady whose name is Elizabeth. She has passion to teach everything to me and my classmates Faye, Jessie and Minyung whenever we need her.  She invited us to go to the concerts for many times. She introduced about history, food, culture and music of Oviedo to us. After 20 days, we were able to talk to each other in Spanish. Can you image we just stay there for 20 days? Ali is another wise lady I want to mention. Ali is a coordinator of University of Oviedo, she can speak many languages including Spanish, English, Chinese and some French. We were used to meet up in order to improve our languages. Also, Ali helped us a lot. I think there is no better way to learn a new language and culture.

The reason why I applied SIPs is that my program is Practical Nursing. Once, I had a trouble in communicating with a client who only can speak Farsi in my placement. I had to spend a lot of time to figure out what she needed every time. Sometimes, knowing one more language can save life. After that, I realized that how important of good communication skills were for people, especially, for a nurse. In this case, I think SIPs is a great opportunity for me to learn another language and culture in order to care clients easily and effectively. Meanwhile, it is a chance to widen my eyes which is beneficial for my future career. It is not only to enhance my global awareness but also to help clients who are Spanish speakers. It will be greatly improved in the programs, which are relevant to my major.

In the end, as a Centennial College student who is studying PN, I am proud of myself. Also, I strongly recommend all students to applied SIPs, you will definitely benefit from SIPs .It will light your future and color you experience.

Meiling Miao (300801439) Practical Nurseing

My adventures in an unknown land – Oviedo, Spain

By Xiuhua Wang, SIPs, Oviedo, Spain, 2016

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Hola, buenos días.

I met my Spanish mother at the bus station, when all we could understand each other were “Hola” to me and “Hello” to her. And that’s how my adventures in Oviedo began…

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Oviedo is the capital city of the Principality of  Asturias in northern Spain. Got a chance to explore this city during the whole August, I have fell in the love with this small but neat and charming city.

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It’s a historical city that founded more than a thousand years ago. And from those ancient buildings, we read the history.

 

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Or, catch a glimpse of their wisdom in those statues…

 

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After class, drinking a cup of Sidra (Cider, alcoholic beverage made from apple ) may be a good idea.

 

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Or, seeing around just a few kilometers away from this lovely city…

 

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Or, how about dance?

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7 Things I Dare You To Do While Studying Abroad

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My classmate and I are in class playing a board game to help us practice our Spanish.  We are holding our list of items we needed to get, such as 1 kg of jamón and 1.5 kg of azucar.

No entiendo is a Spanish phrase I often say when I do not understand what the other person is saying to me while I am here in Spain as part of Centennial’s SIPs.  It is also the same phrase I hear from the other person as well.  In Oviedo, where I am doing my SIPs, I gain more Spanish because the majority of the people you interact with are locals.  One day, my homestay mom wanted to accompany me to places to help with translation.  But I kindly refused and thinking I could do it on my own.  Well, after being laughed at numerous times, receiving all kinds of facial expression from the other person, and even one person stared at me blankly and walked away.  These are the kinds of reactions I received from the locals when we are not interacting with the same language, me with Spanglish, a word derived from English and Spanish, and the other person with Spanish.  But it is when you get out there to self improve on learning Spanish that these attitudes from people will result.  Its actually vale, okay in Spanish!  So, I hope to help you put your newly learn-ing language to functionality by daring you what I had dared myself to do.  I present to you 7 things I dare you to do while studying abroad in Oviedo.

  1. Sign up for a library card at the local library:  I am thankful that it is accessible to sign up for a library card in Oviedo, so I could borrow books to read on my break time at school and bus rides on school trips.  But, it was definitely a challenge when I tried this.  How will this help with your Spanish?  It will help you by giving the experience in signing forms and speaking…attempting Spanish.  There are common words that you can learn as well, such as nombre, apellidarse, and dirección: name, family name, and address.
  2. Ask 2o people in the first week of school, their name and where they are from..in Spanish:  ¿Como te llama? y ¿De donde eres? (You are asking for their name and the country they are from)  Encantado/a means nice to meet you. This will help you practice the basic introduction to others in Spanish and also making new friends 🙂
  3. Order tarrón helado:  I dare you to order something or this typical flavor known in Oviedo at the local ice cream shop. It is an almond ice cream and during the winter holiday, the tarrón fruit dessert is popular as a gift.  In general, I dare you to order food, because my first time ordering croissants, I ended up with 6 croissants and costing me more then what I intend.  The experience will help you practice numbers and ordering.  Such as when you enter the shop it is polite and typical to greet the people with buenas or hola, bueno días.  To order you could use me gusta… or necesito (I like and I need).
  4. Attend the festival de verano:  During the summer month, the province will have summer festivals.  In Oviedo, the festival of summer offers free concerts in historical monuments, and discounted tickets to theatrical performances.  I had the chance to attend several musicals.  So, how will this help you?   I had to find the location of the place, so I practice my Spanish by asking for directions.  You could use hola, señor/a, donde es.  As well as, everyone I heard when I was in line or seated were speaking Spanish.  That way, I am immersing myself in listening to Spanish.
  5. Watch television:  The local channels offers news, and local tv shows.  I found this helpful in learning Spanish because I start hearing repeated words and phrases, such as tambien, entonces, pero, and mañana. (also, so, but, and tomorrow).
  6. Wonder the streets:  I dare you to wonder the local streets, read the street names, names of shops, and listen on people’s conversations.  This will help you be acquainted to some words and activate your hearing and seeing cues.
  7. Go out on a group trip 

!Hasta luego!

Sherry Ing

Massage Therapy student studying at the Universidad de Oviedo intensive Spanish classes as part of Centennial College’s SIPs this summer.

Rosy walls, Wedding Bells, Mountain Peaks, Cowbells, Vibrant Hues…Buen Días!

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I went on a school field trip to Picos de Europa, a national park in northern Spain.  There were never ending peaks of mountains and cows roaming the hills.

Its my third week studying Spanish at the University of Oviedo as part of Centennial College’s SIPs, and I just finished the weekend off with a school trip to Covadonga, Picos de Europa, and Congas de Onís.  These trips shows the history of Asturias according to my professor and locals.  Our first stop was the Congas de Onís, which had the Puente Romano.  It is a bridge built in the medieval times from the reign of Alfonso XI of Castille and Leon.  In the middle of the reconstructed bridge, hangs the Victoria Cross, that relates to the battle of Covadonga.  On our way to Picos de Europa, a national park in Northern coast of Spain, we had to stop for passing cows, that lived in these mountains.  The cow bells rang in the background, as I hiked up and down the paved path along these mountain peaks.  Beyond these inlands were lakes, Ercina and Enol, that glowed with a deep blue hues.  It was quite a magnificent view!  What I also saw and learn was that it was a site for mining.

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Lucky day for my school, we witnessed part of a wedding ceremony.  In the picture, you can see the four musicians, the bag pipe is a traditional instrument you will hear in Asturias.

Covadonga was our next location, and it has a history that relates to religions; Christianity and Muslim.  I am not verse in history, but before choosing the SIPs, I researched Oviedo, and found this part interesting.  On train and bus rides in Spain, each region and cities I pass by, I start noticing geographical, cultural and religious influences.  Another note, I had a chance to see the elegantly dressed guests of a wedding in the rosie wall, Basilica of Santa María la Real of Covadonga.  The traditional bag pipe was played.  According to my professor, it is custom for a Spanish wedding guests to gift about 150€ each when they do accept their invites.  I guest I will be sending my best wishes to any future Spanish weddings.

¡Hasta luego!

Sherry Ing, currently enjoying the Spanish course in Centennial College’s SIPs at the University of Oviedo this summer.