In case you are looking for places to study Spanish, I want to warn you of a particularly bad school in Salamanca called Colegio Delibes.
I attended the school for two months, and while the teaching was average to good, the administration of the school of was atrocious. A potential outbreak of lethal meningitis was mishandled from the outset, potentially putting students at risk of death, when the college moved potentially exposed students into the living quarters of non exposed students.
The death of a student, a tragic event in any situation, was compounded further when the director of the school humilated a few of the students myself included, for asking questions about the news coming out of the hospital. We simply wanted to know if there was any information, a two days afterwards, and his tirade ('you stupid people have no idea what you are talking about') convinced me for one to leave the school.
We asked for an apology for this behavior, none were given.
In addition, the school does not respond well to requests by older students not to live with 18 year olds who stay up all night drinking and puking, and in one case the school did not do anything reply to a case of sexual harrassment in its living quarters. A young man who touched the breasts of his female landlady and who also touched both his roomates without invitation, ( and who lounged around the apartment's common spaces dressed only in tidy whities), was not even spoken to after complaints were made to the director.
Please do not make the same mistake I did. Choose another school in Salamanca, or better yet, study in Seville, a more beautiful city and a much more hospitable climate and social/artistic/culinary scene. Alhambra institute is a nice one, we spent a lovely week there after salamanca http://www.seville.org/ Feel free to email me with questions or concerns.
posted by freemanwh3 at 10:07 PM
I personally think that Salamanca is a very safe city. My hostfamily hoped that I wouldn't walk alone while it's dark out, but I still did it every night during 2 weeks. There was absolutely no problems. Just keep your head with you, and there is nothing to worry, or be afraid of. Such a wonderful city!
Immediately after taking my placement test (which no one looked at in determining where to place me), I was put in an intermediate class of 8 people. Some people in the class didn't know how to conjugate even the most basic verbs, and others had already mastered the subjunctive. I wasn't learning anything, because the material was too easy or too advanced, so I decided to swtch to Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca (which I highly recommend to anyone! It has an incredible language program, and great teachers!). I had only paid my deposit to Delibes, so after 2 days, I went to the front desk to let them know that I was not going to continue taking lclasses there. The deposit more than covered the cost of tuition for a full week, so it should have been very easy to leave the school. Instead, it was very traumatic and difficult. The director of the school threatened me. He told me he would call the police and they would arrest me and ban me from the EU indefinitely if I didn't pay him for the full 4 months of classes I had intended to take. He said I had signed a contract that obligated my payment by reserving my place and he told me if I didn't pay, the police would find me wherever I was an would throw me in jail. I couldn't believe that what he was saying was true, but I was still very terrified and upset by these threats. i was a young girl, all alone in a foreign country where i was barely able to communicate in spanish. I didn't want any trouble. If I really owed him the money, I would of course pay, but I did not want to waste my money on those horrible classes if I didn't have to. I decided to go to the police to find out. While in the waiting room, I met a a very nice bi-lingual woman who helped me explain what had happened to the police since I didn't know enough spanish. The police were horrified. They couldn't believe the direcor was trying to con me out of my money like that, and were outraged that he was taking advantage of people like that. They were so appalled, they actually had me file a formal legal complaint against him. I hope that no one else ever has an experience like this with him or with that school. If you are considering studying there, dont!!! check out the La Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca instead, where you will not only learn spanish, but you'll really enjoy yourself too.
Its a simple thing.. but so easy to forget when your on a night out..
i had one of the most scary experiences of my life in salamanca when i walked home on zamora one night in the middle of the night
i was stalked by a car with no headlights with the guy inside leering at me to come for a ride..and i have never run so fast in my life.. i was so thankful to have gotten away..
so please always take a taxi, they never cost more than 2 or 3 euros...
and theres no price you can put on your safety!..
I was only in Salamanca for a couple days, but the only time I glimpsed the sun was as my bus was pulling out of town. It never really rained too hard, but there was a steady drizzle for much of the time I was here, so it's always a good idea to be prepared with an umbrella or sufficient rain gear.
You'll also do quite a bit of walking in Salamanca, so bring comfortable shoes.
Don't step on the grass there! There's even a sign there that tells you that. I don't know why they make such a huge deal about it (after all, it's just grass, for frick's sake!), but if they catch you, they'll tell you off over it.
As in most European cities, be careful of thieves and pickpockets. There aren't that many in Salamanca (at least I didn't encounter any), but you can't be too careful. Don't carry your passport or large amounts of money with you when you go out. Also, don't wear expensive jewelry.
Sometimes, you'll see people begging for money near the Plaza Mayor or the Cathedral. If you don't want to give them money, ignore them and they'll usually leave you alone.
Also, sometimes when you're at an outdoor cafe, a person might come up and put a card on your table that describes how poor they are (usually along the lines of "We're an immigrant family, I'm unemployed, help me feed my children", etc), as a way to make you pity them and give them money. I usually give them a coin or two, and they leave me alone. But do remember that sometimes, these people do lie and they're not always as poor as they look...
It can get hot in the summer, but it's a dry heat so it doesn't get very humid unless it rains (and it doesn't rain often in summer). But since the weather can get very well go above 30 or even 40 at times, you still have to remember to drink lots of water. Wear comfortable clothes appropriate for the summer. Bring sunscreen too and wear it when you can if you burn easily. If you don't have sunscreen, walk in the shade as much as possible. If you burn, put cold water and/or aloe vera on the burn to soothe it.
If you're a girl, you'll probably get hit on at the discos. It can be fun, but sometimes it gets sleazy. My professor told us that telling the guy you have a boyfriend usually works, because it means that you're the property of another guy, but I tried that and it didn't work. A guy in a disco kept asking me for a kiss and I always refused. Then, he forced me to kiss him, and then took me outside and tried to force me to come to a hotel with him. I was able to break from his grip and run away, but be careful about things like that. You never know what might happen.
Once, as I was walking away from the Palacio de Congresos, a car full of guys drove by, and started yelling things like "Levante la falda!" (lift your skirt up). Other guys I encountered made other sleazy comments.
Another time, a group of guys kept trying to feel me up. Once, I literally had to peel a guy's hand off my chest (yuck!). In another bar, a middle-aged bartender made a comment about my chest, and a guy in that bar was always trying to touch my chest and look up my skirt. He also kept slapping his hand down on my leg. In another situation, a guy and I were attracted to each other, so we started kissing, and left the disco together. I just wanted to kiss, but he tried to get me to do inappropriate things, and even though he didn't rape me or anything like that, he did force me to let him do something that I kept saying "no" to. He held my wrists down to the ground so there wasn't much I could do to fight him off. Be very careful of guys in discos, most of them are just looking for sexual things. "Their brains are in their pants", as my mother once wrote me in an e-mail after I had told her about these guys. I was lucky that the guy didn't force me into a worse situation. Even if you're attracted to the guy, be aware that he might end up trying to force you into bad situations.
My professor told us that Salamanca is one of the safest cities in Spain, and that it's no big deal to walk alone at night. I once walked back to my host family's place a little tipsy and in a short skirt, and I didn't get harrassed (though I do not recommend doing this at all).
I never had any problems, but I would still recommend staying on the main roads and not going through the little side streets. Since there's more people walking around on the main roads, the chances of getting attacked are lower. Also, don't get drunk. The chances of being harrassed or attacked (especially if you're a girl) are higher if you're drunk or high.
Also, there's safety in numbers. If you're with a group, stick together. And if you end up alone, don't get drunk or high, especially if you're a girl. I think that's self-explanatory. I think it's also a good idea to designate a meeting place in case anyone gets lost, such as the plaza mayor or some other well-known place in town. Salamanca is not so dangerous that you'd definitely get attacked, but it's always safer to travel with a buddy or in a group, and to know what to do and where to go if anyone gets lost or separated.
There are a lot of cobblestone streets in downtown Salamanca, they're pedestrian streets. And they're quite bumpy so if you have trouble walking, be careful. One of the girls in my group said that it seems impossible to run or jog on those streets because it looks likely that you'll sprain your ankle or fall. Riding a bike, scooter, or skateboard on those cobblestone streets looks dangerous too (although the locals are probably used to it). I wore heels and I never had problems walking on them (maybe being a dancer puts me at an advantage...) but if you consider yourself uncoordinated I suggest you wear sneakers or other comfy shoes. And if you do feel coordinated enough to wear heels, they'll get worn out faster. I bought a pair of high-heeled sandals at a shoe store in town, and I wore them on most nights. At the end of my trip they looked like I had worn them for much longer than just 3 weeks!
On my 2nd trip to Salamanca, my host family decided to kick me out. It was a petty reason having to do with payment. Double rooms are cheaper than single rooms, and since I had a double but no roommate, the house mother tried to trick me into paying the more expensive price for a single (even though I never used the other bed). My professor said no, and the U of Salamanca agreed, so the mother was forced to accept the payment for double only. She got upset over it, and on a Monday, told me that I have to leave by Wednesday (very short notice) and gave me a note about it to give to my prof.
The next morning, I called my prof, and told her about it, and we met up after my classes. Then, she told me that the university sent her an e-mail with the house mother's "reason" for kicking me out.
It was a huge lie. The mother had told the university that I had brought a guy into my room one night. According to her, she and her husband heard noise in my room at night, he went to see what was going on, and saw a figure running away. I was shocked and appalled when I found out. My prof believed me 100% when I told her it was a lie. She has taught me at my home university for 2.5 years, so she knows me well enough to know that I would never do anything like that. We talked to the lady at the U of Salamanca who is in charge of the host family program (she had sent my prof the e-mail), and she believed me too. So that day, I was switched to a new host family. My prof and the university lady didn't want me staying with the first family, because they didn't want me staying with dishonest people.
Not all families in the program are dishonest and money-hungry, that incident was an exception rather than the rule. But I feel I should tell my story anyway to warn you that things like this do happen. Fortunately, it ended well for me, and even though the bad family didn't end up getting booted from the program (because of lack of evidence), the incident was put on file. If they mess up again, they'll definitely get booted.
I only want to say that I have been living in Salamnca for 6 months and I went out for "copas" (going out) almost every night. Mostly I was alone because I met my friend in the bars..and I have NEVER met someone bothering me..NEVER!
So don't worry and enjoy your time in this faboulous town!
women: please do not walk alone late at night. Salamanca is known for having one of the 'best' nightlife scenes in Spain, and what does this mean? A lot of alcohol, raging hormones, and aggressive behavior. While walking back to her flat, a friend of mine was followed by three men, and after she ran inside, they started to kick the front door while screaming for her to come out...be careful!
Across from the cathedral(as shown in the photo) is the faculty of Translation. At the weekends , you might come across some students puffing some hash on the steps of the faculty... just in case you're wondering why you feel all woozy when admiring the cathedral... you're just getting passively stoned :)