Skip to main content

Student Profiles

Studying in Salamanca during the summer allowed John Fierst, a biology major, to participate in a study abroad program without getting behind in his major courses.

Overseas Study Program

Salamanca,  Spain

Don't be afraid to try something new, especially if it involves your language skills. This really is your chance to practice it in real life, so take every opportunity to do so.”

John Fierst

John's major: Biology
Year/term abroad: Summer 2012 

Why did you choose this program? I chose to go to Salamanca for a number of reasons. First, I wanted to better my Spanish language skills; immersing myself in Spain was perfect for this, as I had to rely on my Spanish more times than not. Second, it was a perfect amount of time. As a science major, I could still graduate on time by not having to sacrifice my fall and spring schedules yet still get academic credit and time abroad.

What was housing like on your study abroad program? My host family consisted of three generations: a pair of grandparents, their daughter and her husband, and a granddaughter. My family lived on the third floor of an apartment building, and their apartment had 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. I shared a room with a roommate, and he was from Quebec.

What's your best memory from your time abroad? The day I arrived was the day of the 2012 EuroCup, which Spain went on to win that night.  It seemed that absolutely everyone in Salamanca took to the streets to cheer and celebrate; it was a great "welcome" of sorts to the country, and I loved seeing the entire city be so passionate and loyal to their team.  

What do you wish someone had told you before you left? Just go for it!  It can be intimidating to walk in to a store to buy a Spanish cell phone alone for example, but those kinds of experiences really shape your time abroad. Don't be afraid to try something new, especially if it involves your language skills. This really is your chance to practice it in real life, so take every opportunity to do so.

What fact about your host country do you think people would be surprised to learn? So called "weird" foods by American standards do exist in Spain; it's not all paella!  I ordered a dish on a trip to Madrid without really knowing exactly what it was. It was very good, and upon returning to culture class the following week, I found out it was actually cow's stomach.