Universidad de Salamanca

On this webpage you can find general information about the Universidad de Salamanca and two interviews from IRIO studentd and their time abroad studying at this university


“The University of Salamanca, founded in 1218 by King Alphonsus IX of León, is one of the oldest universities in Europe and has been an academic point of reference throughout its almost 800 years of existence, taking in uncountable generations of students from all parts of the globe.”


The University of Salamanca maintains this image of research and academic excellence. It even has been labelled as the ”Oxford of Spain“ and is an important centre for the study of the humanities. The university is in the process of adapting its teachings to the new “European Higher Education Area”, which seeks to place the student at the centre of learning. Studying in Salamanca thus could be a great opportunity to study in Spain. Salamanca namely is a very vibrant and dynamic university town, only 200 kilometres away from Madrid.


The university has an academic staff comprised of 2.612 employees and around 30.000 students with 9.000 of them being foreign students. Moreover, there are a great number of official degrees offered: 574 degrees in total. The international character can be seen by the agreements with more than 600 universities in the world.


The University of Salamanca has 25 Centres in different towns: Ávila, Béjar, Salamanca, Villamayor and Zamora. Most Centres are located in the city of Salamanca, which has a population of more than 150,000. The university centres in Salamanca are located in different parts of town: some are in the Old Quarter and others in peripheral areas situated at about 20 minutes’ walk from the city centre.


Students who are citizens of any of the member States of the European Union do not need to obtain a visa to study in Salamanca. The same goes for students from Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.


For stays of less than 90 days (3 months), the citizens of countries on the common list of Third Countries whose citizens are not required to have a visa for member States: http://www.exteriores.gob.es/Portal/es/ServiciosAlCiudadano/InformacionParaExtranjeros/Documents/listapaisesvisado.pdf


A visa is necessary for all those students from non-EU countries who plan to reside in Spain for more than 3 months. A student visa to enter and legally remain in Spain must be applied for at the Spanish Embassy or Consulate in the student’s country of origin or residence.


There are two types of student visas:

  • Student visa for a maximum of 180 days. Students cannot ask for a visa extension.
  • Long term visa for studies lasting longer than 180 days. Within a month of your entry into Spain you must apply for an authorization for a study stay (AUTORIZACIÓN DE ESTANCIA POR ESTUDIOS) at the Office for Foreigners in the Salamanca Police Station. This visa can be extended for as long as you are registered at the University. Students planning to study for more than a semester at the University of Salamanca should apply for a long term visa.


Language and additional requirements (such as the TOEFL test):


The language of instruction at our institution is Spanish. Therefore, a minimum level of B1 is recommended, although no certificate is required.


To improve your level of Spanish, the University of Salamanca offers a Spanish intensive course at the beginning of each semester (September, October and November for the 1st semester, and February and March for the 2nd semester) for all Erasmus students who wish to take it. The course is 3 weeks long and has a total of 30 class hours, distributed in 2 hours a day, from Monday to Friday. Students have to pay 170 Euros for course materials and linguistic consulting.


Once enrolled, students will be given a placement test to determine their level of Spanish in order to organize the different groups. At the end of the course, the students will receive a certificate of attendance if they have attended at least 90% of the classes.


Housing:


The university offers accommodation in the University of Salamanca residence halls. Rooms can be reserved before your arrival or after you have reached the city.


Furthermore, information for accommodation in shared flats, with a family, private student residence halls, etc. can be found on the website of the University Guidance Office (http://spio.usal.es)


A final option could be to find accommodation with older persons as part of University of Salamanca’s intergenerational living program. In this way, an older person offers accommodation at a low rate to students in exchange for some help at home. For more information, see the web site of the Office of Social Services (http://sas.usal.es).


Student expenses will vary according to the type of accommodation. However, €800 a month is the approximate amount needed to cover basic costs of rent, transport, food, etc.


Ranking:

  • Ranking Universidades El Mundo: 14th 
  • Arts & humanities Rankings 2018: 301-400th
  • World University Rankings 2018: 601-800th


(Abstract taken from:


https://cursosinternacionales.usal.es/en/spanish-courses-erasmus

http://rel-int.usal.es/images/docs/Guia_Rel_Int_2017.pdf

http://www.elmundo.es/especiales/ranking-universidades/listado.html

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/university-salamanca)


INTERVIEW CLIO STUDY ABROAD:


How did you find where to spend your semester abroad? How did the application go? Was it your first choice?


Already from the beginning of my studies I played with the idea of going to Latin America for my semester abroad in order to improve my Spanish skills. I chose Colombia because a part of my family lives there, I on the other hand have only been there once before. Another thing that played a role in my decision making was that the university in Bogotá offered quite a range of interesting courses within the IR and the Political Science faculty.



What were the requirements for you to go to this place?


One applied as to any other university that is part of the faculty exchange, with a one-page motivation letter, your grades and a preference list. The RUG also asked for a language certificate stating my Spanish proficiency, however when I contacted the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia, they did not have any specific requirements from their part and said the RUG language minor in Spanish would suffice.


What was/is your favourite sightseeing spot there?


The entire historical city center is worth a visit and you will be able to spend many of your free time there. You will find lots of history and art museums, most of which are for free (at least on Sundays and Wednesdays), public places with street artists and markets of handcrafted goods, some of the government buildings, and within walking distance you will find the mountain Montserrate with one of Bogotá’s most important churches on top - from here you have a beautiful panoramic view over the city.


What was/is your favourite local food there? Are there any surprising dishes we need to know about?


Due to its geographic location, you will find basically any imaginable kind of fruit and vegetable on the markets in Colombia. Besides this, everywhere in the streets, you will find stands selling local street food called Arepas (corn flatbread), Empanadas (fried stuffed samosas), fried yucca/cassava/manioc or obleas (wafers with a lot of sweet stuff on them). However, my favourite local food is definitely Colombian hot chocolate, which people drink while dropping pieces of cheese and dipping their (slightly too sweet) bread into it;)


Were/are there many green spaces to relax, such as cool parks?


Although Bogotá is a huge city with its more than 8 million people, there are plenty of parks and green spaces to escape the noise and pollution. The biggest one is called Parque de Simón Bolívar and throughout the year various (mostly free) festivals and concerts are hosted there on the weekends.


Did/do you practice any sports or were you active in other associations there?


The university has quite a big gym on campus, which is free for all students as well as exchange students. Besides this I also went to the ciclovía once in a while - every Sunday and Holiday, some of the big streets will be closed in order for the people to ride their bikes or go for a run.


Did/do you go out a lot? Where should we definitely go?


I went out a couple of times and Bogotá is definitely the best place to party in Colombia. You will find a lot of Salsa and Reggeaton bars, however the electro & techno scene is also relatively big within Bogotá. From the bigger clubs I would recommend checking out Theatron, which is a LGBTQ+ bar and dance club that has 13 floors with all kinds of different music and can fit up to 5000 people. But you can always check on https://labitagora.com/ for free concerts, parties and events in Bogota if your budget is running low.


What did/do you think of the university? The location? The campus? The buildings? The teachers? The study programme? Was the university helpful to international students?


I was mostly satisfied with the academic quality of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and my experience at this university in general. It is a private university and belongs to one of the best in Colombia. It is located in Chapinero, a neighbourhood with a lot of restaurants, affordable housing and nightlife. Getting there is quite easy, since the campus is located at the septima (one of Bogotá’s main streets) and there are a lot of busses passing by. However, if you live close, you can easily walk or take the bike.

All faculties are located on the same campus, which is open so that everybody can enter. Still, you will need your student card to get into certain buildings or facilities. There are two bigger libraries, however, the main library is quite busy most of the times. Throughout the campus you will find various different kiosks and two big cafeterias - yet, if you look for some change, just across the street are lots of cafés and cheap restaurants.

As in any university you will find very qualified teachers and others with which you might have a hard time, however, in general all the university staff (including the international office) are very kind and helpful if one has any questions.

There are many courses to choose from; I took one course about multidimensional security, one about migration, one dealing with the external politics of Colombia, one about environmental issues and another one about the history of Colombia’s internal conflict.


How did/does it go financially? The accommodation (provided by the university or not)? Food? Public transport?


I got the marco polo fund and applied for the Groningen University fund. Accommodation is not provided by the university, but you can rather easily find it on facebook. However, I would recommend to only book something for the first month(s) or without the condition that you have to stay for a certain amount of time, so that you can take another look at different housing options when you are there. Housing prices will vary from 200-350€ depending on the area you will be living. For me it seemed as if Colombians usually do not cook that much, since eating at a restaurant will often be cheaper than buying the ingredients individually. For the public buses you will need a bus card (comparable to the OV-card) and the fare is 2,000-2,200 COP (~ 0,60€). Uber is used a lot in Colombia and especially in Bogotá it is a cheap(er) and saver alternative to taking a taxi.


What did/do you think of the workload (compared to the RUG)?


The amount of literature we had to read was comparable to what I have to read at the RUG, at times it seemed even more because everything was in Spanish. However, since you have to hand in assignments more frequently and the academic standards do not seem as high as in Groningen, the workload was manageable.


Did/do you meet many international students? Was there an international environment or did/do you really need knowledge of the national language?


Yes, there are many International Students from all over the world and the university arranges activities only for exchange students. Many of the Colombian students know English, however since most courses are taught in Spanish one needs to know how to at least communicate in Spanish on a basis level.


What was the most surprising thing about this new culture?

What is the funniest word you learned in the new language?


I was surprised of the size of the country and the diversity of its nature. There are deserts, tropical rain forests, mountains, islands and picturesque beaches due the countries geographic location right at the equator, between the pacific and the Caribbean sea, with the Andes crossing through it and the Amazone River in the South. 


A lot of people call their boyfriends, male friends or sons “papí” and their girlfriends, female friends or daughters “mamí.”


Any last words or quotes that describe your exchange perfectly?


Never gonna drink my hot chocolate any other way ;)


This interview was given by Eeke Bastiaansen - if you wish to get in contact with her, send an email to info@clio.nl.


Grading

Grades are given on a scale from 1 - 10.

Culture




Grade

Explanation

Points of interest

(not so many <-> lots of museums etc.)

10

In Bogotá there is always stuff to see or to do. I assure you, you will never get bored! Same counts for the entire country.

Food

(only local food <-> great variety of restaurants)

7

There is probably the biggest variety of fruit and vegetables I have ever encountered, however, the local cuisine mainly uses rice, platane, beans and always meat. If you are travelling it might be hard to find vegetarian options that are not merely side dishes (should not be a problem in Bogotá though).

Nature

(none <-> several natural parks/recreational parks)

10

You will no where else get more nature in just one country than in Colombia!

Recreation/Sports

(limited <-> many options)

8

There is a lot of sports, perhaps not everything is offered by the university, but there are many different clubs and other activities that one can do in the city or out in the nature.

Social Activities

(limited <-> many theatres/cinemas/pubs/clubs)

10

From salsa bars, over alternative cinemas, theatres, to some of the most vibrant clubs in Latin America, Bogotá has everything one desires. Additionally, the Colombian people are known for their ability to dance all night and anybody visiting will assure you that it’s true ;)





Study




Grade

Explanation

Size of the University 

(small <-> big)

6

Comparable to the RUG, but everything on one campus.

Relationship students-professors

(informal <-> formal)

5

Depends on the professor, but in general you are advised to show respect towards your professors.

Language requirements

(English suffices <-> other languages are needed)

8

A certain Spanish proficiency is definitely recommended since most courses are taught in Spanish.

The study programme

(easy <-> difficult/intense)

7

Workload comparable with the RUG, however, some assignments might seem to demand less academic quality.

Internationality

(few international students <-> many international students)

6

We were around 150 exchange students.

Location of the University

(hard to reach <-> close by)

10

The university is fairly easy to reach with public transport or by bike/foot.




Finances




Grade

Explanation

Food

(expensive <-> cheap)

10

Food in general is super cheap in comparison to the Netherlands (you will get a lunch incl. soup, salad, juice and small desert for ~3€).

Accommodation 

(difficult to find & expensive <-> easy & affordable)

7

Accommodation is rather easy to find, however depending on where one lives the prices are comparable to Groningen.









Interview 2


Where did/do you spent your semester abroad?

I was in Salamanca (Spain) which is around 2,5 hours away from Madrid.


How did you find where to spend your semester abroad?

On the site of the RUG. Furthermore, I heard from people who went here before that it would be a great place to spend your semester abroad. 


What were the requirements for you to go to this place?

Besides the general requirements of going abroad, Salamanca doesn’t have special requirements. However, it is recommended to have Spanish level B1 at least. I would also not advice to study here without any knowledge of Spanish, but I do know people here who didn’t learn any Spanish before. 


What was/is your favourite sightseeing there?

The tower of the Cathedral is impressive, the view you will have over the city is the best. You can visit it even for free every Sunday afternoon and during the sunset the light falling on the city is very beautiful. Furthermore, you should definitely see the skyline of the city including the cathedral from the Puente Romano (a bridge). 


What was/is your favourite local food there?

I really love the tapas here, which you can get in a lot of restaurants. You don’t need a lot of them to have enough and since the portions are small, you can try out different things. My favourite tapas are patatas bravas with spicy sauce and mini vegetarian burgers made of bulgur. My favourite dessert is crema catalana, the Spanish version of crème brûlée.


Was/is there many green spaces to relax?

You have a park where also a lot of Spanish people spend their afternoon. The river has also enough spots to sit down and there is a cycle path next to it with a nice view (even though not that many people cycle here ;)).


Did/do you practice any sports there?

I go to a gym where many (Erasmus) students are going as well. Furthermore, I go running sometimes, the cycle path around the city is perfect for this. 


Did/do you go out a lot? Where?

Yes, Salamanca is perfect for going out! It has kind of the same ambiance as Groningen, it is not too big and you will always meet people during the night. Every Tuesday there is an Erasmus party, but also Thursday and Saturday are popular to go out. Luckily, you almost never have to pay entrance and there are many options to get cheap drinks. 


What did/do you think of the university? The location? The buildings? The teachers? The study programme?

The university is one of the oldest in Europe (almost 800 years old now), but unfortunately the faculty is not in one of the old buildings. However, the faculty is perfect located in the city and also if you take courses at the campus, you can still walk there. The teachers are in general nice and make you feel welcome. The only downside is that IRIO has a contract with the faculty of history and geography. There is a study programme comparable to political science at the law faculty, but you are obliged to take at least 3 courses of the history and geography faculty. However, often international relations programmes offer courses which are the same as in Groningen and therefore you cannot take them. I didn’t have that problem and there were enough interesting courses at this faculty as well.  


How did/does it go financially? The accommodation? Food? Public transports?

Salamanca/Spain is in general cheaper than Groningen. For instance, you can find a good apartment here for half of the price what you would pay in Groningen. Salamanca is quite exceptional with that, because I have heard from people who live in other (bigger) Spanish cities that their rent is a lot higher. Food in the supermarkets is a little bit cheaper sometimes, but especially food in restaurants is less expensive. However, I have figured that going out for food a lot will be visible in your budget at the end of the month ;)Some Spanish clothing brands are also cheaper here (Zara, Bershka etc.) so shopping here is quite good. You can walk everywhere so in the city you don’t have to spend money on public transport, but if you want to go to Madrid you have to pay for the bus or Blabla car (-/+ 30 euros in total). There are a lot of cheap flights going from Madrid, however you should also think of the costs of going to the airport. 


What was the most surprising thing about this new culture?

Even though Spain is still very western, there were some things which surprised me. Here it is very normal to walk around till late in the evening, even children are on the streets. Spanish people also don’t really care about interior, they rather spend their money on food and drinks in restaurants. However, every room here has already furniture, which is quite helpful as an Erasmus student. 


What is the most funny word you learned in the new language?

Enemigo (enemy), because I didn’t expect that it would be so similar to amigo (friend).


What did/do you think of the workload?

The workload feels less than in Groningen, because you don’t have books. You only have to make assignments sometimes, which makes it feel sometimes a little bit like high school. 

 

Did/do you meet many international students?

Almost all of my friends here are internationals, because there are many internationals here. It is easy to get to know new people and during the night you will also see people you know often.  ​


Grading

Gradings are given on a scale from 1 - 10.

Culture

Grade                                                        Explanation

Points of interests 

(not so many <-> lots of museums etc.)
    8

Salamanca as a city itself is already really beautiful, so there is always something new to discover when you are walking around. 

Salamanca as a city itself is already really beautiful, so there is always something new to discover when you are walking around. 

Food

(only local food <-> great variety of restaurants)
    4There are a lot of places with (good) tapas, but also for instance Mexican and Asian restaurants do exist. There are also good options for vegetarian food. 

Nature

(none <-> several natural parks/recreational parks)
    7There are a lot of places with (good) tapas, but also for instance Mexican and Asian restaurants do exist. There are also good options for vegetarian food. 

Recreation/Sports

(limited <-> many options/extra courses)
    7Salamanca has a park and it is also nice to hang out around the river.

Social Activities

(limited <-> many theatres/cinemas/pubs)
   10There are many pubs to go to and every week you can see a lot of (international) movies for a low price. Furthermore, the Erasmus organizations organise many cultural activities as well. 


Study


Grade                                                          Explanation

Size of the University

(small <-> big)

    5

The university as a whole has around the size of the RUG. Nevertheless, the faculty itself is really small.

Relationship students-professors

(informal <-> formal)

    3The classes are small in the faculty, therefore teachers know their students well.  Nevertheless, other bigger faculties are more formal. 

Language requirements

(English suffices <-> Official Language)

   10Since all classes are given in Spanish, it is helpful to have at least a basic knowledge of Spanish. There are language courses offered as well. Nevertheless, most teachers do take into account that Erasmus students aren’t native speakers.

The study programme

(easy <-> difficult/intense)

    3In comparison to IRIO, studying is quite easy in general. You don’t have books, so you mainly study what is discussed in the lectures.

Internationality

(few international students <-> many int. students)
   10There are many international students from the whole world.

Location of the University

(hard to reach <-> close by)

    9

The faculty is in the city centre and some other faculties are at the campus, but everything is at walking distance. 

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