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-   -   Semester abroad in Seville or Salamanca- which would be the better option? (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/semester-abroad-in-seville-or-salamanca-which-would-be-the-better-option-900928/)

italynovice Jul 31st, 2011 07:06 AM

Semester abroad in Seville or Salamanca- which would be the better option?
 
My daughter is spending the spring semester of her Junior year in college in Spain, and will live with a host family. She will take three spanish courses, and another humanities course or two taught in Spanish. The purpose of this semester is to become more fluent in spanish, experience another culture, meet people, and be able to travel around in her free time. She can choose either an API or ISA program in either of these two locations, both of which organize the semester there, arrange for housing, plan excursions during their stay, and arrange credit transfer with her university in the states. Has anyone had experience with either of these programs in these two cities, or if not, have an opinion on which of the two would be the better location for a 4 month stay? This two cities seem to be the best options for coursework that will tranfer credit to her college in the states. She has looked on some travel abroad blogs, but has not seen much on these two areas. Help!

bobthenavigator Jul 31st, 2011 07:13 AM

Cannot comment on the courses, but I love Salamanca as a city. It is a real University town and is the right size to walk everywhere. Seville is a big city.

Barblab Jul 31st, 2011 07:26 AM

Both of my kids did a study abroad in Granada, Spain with ISA. They LOVED Granada and had no problems with college credits at their home university. (UT Austin)

lreynold1 Jul 31st, 2011 07:52 AM

Hi,

This is a tough choice, but here are some considerations.

Like bob says, Salamanca is a university town, and Sevilla is a big city. But it's a lovely big city. The central historic core of Sevilla is just as walkable and compact as Salamanca's, but it may be more likely that students will be housed further from the center in Sevilla than Salamanca.

Sevilla probably gets a lot more tourists than Salamanca, though Salamanca has its fair share.

Salamanca is more centrally located for travel around Spain, but Sevilla is a great location for touring southern Spain and Portugal. AND, living in Sevilla she will be in place and ready to experience the blowout Holy Week celebrations and probably the Feria, which comes in May I think.

The Castilian spoken commonly in Sevilla is more difficult for the English speaking ear, IMO. There's a lot of jumping over syllables, aspiration of "s"-es, pretty fast talking, even some switching of the iterlabial "th" to "s" and vice versa. In Salamanca, they speak a more traditional, some would say "pure" Castilian, but that's of course a value laden judgment.

Sevilla has a much hotter climate, though the real hellish weather doesn't usually start till June. (Though I was there a few years ago in late April and temps hit 90s). I have been in Salamanca in January, and it was cold, though not as biting cold as nearby Avila and the mountain area to the south.

Both Sevilla and Salamanca have a lot of US students studying there, so in the end, if "cultural immersion" is what your daughter is after it will take a bit of an effort in both places to break out of the US student circle.

Public transportation, both bus and train, is great from both places. Sevilla to Madrid on the fast train AVE is about 2 1/2 hours. I am not 100% sure about this, but I don't think the AVE has a route through Salamanca.

Either way, it should be a terrific experience.

Graziella5b Aug 1st, 2011 06:31 PM

The information given by Ireyarnold covers beautifully all aspects of your question. Nothing much can be
added. I only wish to agree with him, I am sure he is right when he says
that it will take a bit of an effort to break out the US student circle.
It seems to me that it might be more difficult in Salamanca being an University city than in Seville.
Both are charming and she is fortunate to be able to spend a semester in either one.
Weather consideration as Irey points out is important because in Seville it gets pretty hot, I wonder if the Siesta factor should be taken into consideration.? Meaning that some times cities
in Spain are closed for a couple of hours at siesta time which can be annoying.....

italynovice Aug 1st, 2011 10:10 PM

Thank you for your input! Bob, I like the fact that Salamanca is a beautiful university town where she can potentially get around on foot more easily. Ireynold1, your point about the accent in Seville is interesting, and makes me think that a more traditional Castillion accent in Salamanca would be a plus also for that program. My daughter does say that people who have studied in Seville claim that once you can understand their accent, that you can understand any Spanish dialect! The transportation from Salamanca seems easier, as it is more central. On the other hand, there is a fast train that travels from Seville to Madrid in 2 1/2 hours, so I guess that's not too big a factor. The school in Seville does a week long excursion to Morocco during the semester, which my daughter thought sounded intriguing; they both have excursions during the program to various areas of Spain. The price for both programs is very reasonable, as they accept her scholarship from her home university. I don't think the hot weather would be a big factor, as we live in New Orleans, where it's usually hot. Graziella5b, both you and Ireynold1 bring up the good point that she will have to put forth an effort to break out of the us student circle. I'll forward her this information, and she can decide which program she feels will fit her needs better. If anyone has any knowlege of these programs, or any further input on these areas, I would appreciate it.

Aduchamp1 Aug 1st, 2011 10:31 PM

The information above is quite accurate and useful. The university at Salamanca is the oldest and most storied in Spain and their Plaza Mayor is among the most beautiful in Spain.

Here is one of the more interesting accounts associated with the University:
Fray Luis de León-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luis_de_Le%C3%B3n

Does any recall the words above the entrance to the library?

On the other hand for a full semester Sevilla has more diversions and as someone noted with the AVE, you can be in Madrid in a couple of hours.

Aduchamp1 Aug 1st, 2011 10:34 PM

Sorry one more thought that will not help your decision. I would want to attend classes at Salamanca but live in Sevilla.

joannyc Aug 1st, 2011 11:17 PM

Much more to explore and experience in Seville where as Salamanca, although also wonderful, is smaller and can be explored in a weekend or two.

kimhe Aug 2nd, 2011 01:34 AM

Sevilla is the queen of Spanish cities. I've travelled and lived in Spain for some 25 years, and I hold Sevilla as my favourite together with San Sebastián in the North. A beautiful and diverse city, tons of history (Roman, Moorish, Christian, the "discovery" of America), sights and vibrant atmosphere. The easter and Feria de Abril celebrations will top it all. http://www.andalucia.com/cities/sevilla.htm

italynovice Aug 2nd, 2011 06:24 AM

Ireynold1 and kimhe, what light can you shed on the holy week and Feria celebrations? I'm glad I'm not the one making the decision, as all these comments make each sound like a better choice for different reasons! I have a feeling that as junior in college, she may choose Seville due to more diversions, sights, and nightlife?!

kimhe Aug 2nd, 2011 07:30 AM

Sevilla has got one of the absolute most famous easter celebrations in the world, should be a huge experience:
http://www.andalucia.com/festival/easter/home.htm

Two weeks later the city celebrates the Spring Fair, the Feria de Abril, and Sevilla is turned upside down once again: http://www.andalucia.com/festival/seville-feria.htm

Nightlife in Sevilla is fabulous and generally very safe. I recommend the non-touristy areas around Alameda de Hércules and the Triana district. In Triana, one of the most important cradles of flamenco culture, people normally start the evening along riverside Calle Betis and then move on to some of the clubs.
http://www.sevilla5.com/activities/goingout/betis.html

In Alemeda de Hercules thousands of people will be on the street and in all the bars till 4 am (at least in the week-ends). http://www.sevilla5.com/activities/g...-hercules.html

kimhe Aug 2nd, 2011 07:30 AM

Sevilla has got one of the absolute most famous easter celebrations in the world, should be a huge experience:
http://www.andalucia.com/festival/easter/home.htm

Two weeks later the city celebrates the Spring Fair, the Feria de Abril, and Sevilla is turned upside down once again: http://www.andalucia.com/festival/seville-feria.htm

Nightlife in Sevilla is fabulous and generally very safe. I recommend the non-touristy areas around Alameda de Hércules and the Triana district. In Triana, one of the most important cradles of flamenco culture, people normally start the evening along riverside Calle Betis and then move on to some of the clubs.
http://www.sevilla5.com/activities/goingout/betis.html

In Alemeda de Hercules thousands of people will be on the street and in all the bars till 4 am (at least in the week-ends). http://www.sevilla5.com/activities/g...-hercules.html

lreynold1 Aug 3rd, 2011 05:58 AM

Hi, italynovice, I have never been in Sevilla for either of these events, yet I have seen lots of pictures and heard a lot of stories. Kimhe has given you a lot of good information -- basically the town fills to the brim with tourists and there are days of religious processions - I have been to Holy Week in several other Spanish cities, and though SEvilla's is the most famous and probably the most elaborate, Holy Week in Valladolid (close to Salamanca), for instance, is quite an experience as well. (I know several college students who have been in Sevilla and they never saw the Holy Week processions because it was their spring break and they wanted to visit other places).

Night life doesn't tend to be a problem in any Spanish city I've ever been to, though of course some are more active than others. I walk a lot on the various Caminos in Spain, and though it is sometimes hard to find coffee early in the morning before we set out to walk, there is rarely a problem on Sunday mornings if we're in a town of any size, because the discos are just emptying out and there are plenty of places open and filled with many young people who've been partying way too much.

You're right that it's like many of life's big decisions, there are pros and cons on both sides. I'm sure she will have a wonderful experience either way. Laurie

kimhe Aug 3rd, 2011 08:21 AM

Just add that Semana Santa in Sevilla is by no means a touristy event, although it attracts a lot of tourists.

PalenQ Aug 3rd, 2011 08:46 AM

Having been to both it would be a hard choice to make.

Salamanca is much smaller and more a college town, dominated by its university - a safer town too I would gather as reports of street crime in Seville seem to be not unusual - like any huge Spanish town like Madrid and Barcelona - some of the worst street crimes in all of Europe IMO - But Salamanca is a quiet IME college town - Seville will have better weather than northern Spain though - nice and toasty even in winter.

Salamanca is IMO more isolated
but Seville presents multiple easy day trips or excursions, even to Morocco!

Seville is one of Europe finest old-world looking towns but also suffers from being a big town in one of Europe's poorest areas, Andalucia.

Egbert Aug 3rd, 2011 09:59 AM

I chose Seville 20 years ago and had the absolute time of my life. As Aduchamp says the University in Salamanca is top notch but Seville is a special place. If you get a chance to live in one of the world's greatest (very) small cities and get to experience their two biggest festivals, and go to Granada, and Morroco, that would seal the deal for me. I found the students at the Univ. of Seville to be easy to meet and a lot of fun.

PalenQ Aug 3rd, 2011 10:37 AM

The population of the city of Seville was 704,198 as of 2010 (INE), ranking as the fourth largest city of Spain. The population of the metropolitan area (urban)

spain's 4th largest city would seemingly defy the modifier "very small city" - guess there ain't only a few large cities in Spain?

But I agree with Egbert I would also chose Seville for the city and location and weather - Salamanca is yes a sedate college town and that could have its own lures as well - two very very different places.

kimhe Aug 3rd, 2011 11:27 AM

PalenQ,

Andalucía has traditionally been poor and there are lots of people having a hard time even now (especially since 2008), huge differences between cities and countryside etc, but presenting it today as one of Europe's poorest areas wouldn't even remotely come close to reality.

Egbert Aug 4th, 2011 08:51 AM

I guess if you add up all of the outlying neighborhoods it might add up to that. It feels like a small city to me.


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