For many, an API high school summer program may be a student’s first opportunity to travel abroad. So what makes Salamanca, Spain an ideal location for high school students to study abroad?
Located less than three hours from Madrid and one hour from Portugal, Salamanca is one of Spain’s smaller cities with a booming student population. With its historic architecture, relaxed pace of life, emphasis on education, and youthful presence, there are numerous reasons why Salamanca is a popular destination for high school students to study abroad.
API’s High School Spanish Language and Culture Program allows high school students to earn college credits at the University of Salamanca, home to one of the oldest universities in Spain. Students may stay from two to four weeks and will live with host families. Once classes are finished for the day, students are able to enjoy Salamanca as a group and partake in a number of planned cultural and social activities.
We asked Sarah Burkett, who has enjoyed leading the API high school Salamanca program for the last two years, her thoughts on what makes this city so special for younger students:
“I love Salamanca. I think that it’s one of the most beautiful cities to live in. Not only is it beautiful, but it is also very convenient, especially when it comes to students as it is not as large, nor expensive as other major cities, but is not too small either. It offers many of the cultural perks and activities that the big cities have, whilst still seeming like a small Spanish town. It’s also better for Spanish learning because there are still many people that do not understand English here, so the students have to try to use their Spanish more in their day-to-day activities.
I thoroughly enjoyed showing and explaining the different aspects of the history, customs, language, etc. to both of my groups. And through sharing my knowledge and experiences with them, I sort of felt like I was re-experiencing the feeling I first got when I came here and I ended up falling in love with and appreciating the city all over again. For example, there is nothing quite like seeing the expression on people’s faces when you show them to the Plaza Mayor for the first time. It is simply breathtaking.
As far as the students? I can honestly say that they have come over here with the right attitudes, eagerly full of questions and fascination for all the richness that this trip has to offer them. The feedback that I’ve gotten from them has been primarily positive. They appreciate how well-organized the trip is and the variety of cultural and athletic activities that they do in Spain. Just to give you an idea of the variety that I’m talking about there’s Salsa dancing, cooking class, yoga, painting, kayaking, tours of museums, visiting monuments and learning about the architecture of the cathedrals, horseback riding, paddle surfing, swimming, language exchange meetings with local Spanish students, going to the beach, tapas’ night, weekend trips to nearby cities, etc. Usually, the top activities vary, each person likes one thing or another best, but that’s one of the benefits, there is something for everyone
Another reason that I truly enjoyed working with these young students is that I can see the impact that it has had on them. I firmly believe that, if possible, you should study abroad at least once in your lifetime. It is an experience that you cannot put a price on, as every time you experience another culture, you are consequently expanding and altering your view of the world and opening your mind to new and different things, and I’m glad to be a part of that.”