Seeing the world has been one of senior Aaron Cochrane’s major goals for most of his life.
“I’ve always enjoyed international travel and wanted to do more of it,” he said.
During the fall 2012 semester, Cochrane got to pursue this opportunity when he studied abroad at the University of Salamanca in Spain.
The city of Salamanca, where the eponymous university is located, is situated in the desert of western Spain, near the border with Portugal.
The distance from what he views as more touristy places is one of the things that attracted Cochrane to the University, as one of his two majors is anthropology. Another factor that drew him there was the history of the university itself; University of Salamanca is the oldest University in Spain and the fourth oldest university in continuous operation.
Though many study abroad students have reported difficulties in the initial adjustment to a foreign lifestyle, Cochrane felt that his previous travels prepared him to adjust to the new culture with ease.
“Honestly, changing back to our lifestyle was more difficult,” he said.
One of the more interesting cultural concepts that Cochrane ran into while studying abroad was the different Spanish concept of punctuality.
“There’s this assumption in the United States that if someone says the event is at noon, then it will be at noon,” Cochrane elaborated. “Whereas in Spain, people would have this expectation that one shows up half an hour to forty five minutes late. It kind of works out great and people are less high strung, but it can be confusing for those not getting that cue.”
The actual school experience itself was different as well. Whereas students in the U.S. generally take classes on varying subjects, Cochrane noted that all his classes generally focused on the Spanish language in application to varying parts of life.
While in Spain, Cochrane and another American student stayed with a host family constituting a woman in her sixties and her son, in his thirties.
Cochrane said he enjoyed getting to know his hosts a little bit, but was often out of the house travelling and thus was not as close to them as other students might have been to their hosts.
Overall, Cochrane said he genuinely enjoyed his trip to Spain, and encouraged students to apply for study abroad if they dreamt of seeing the world. With that being said, he added that different regions and cities might have different appeals to other students, but that Salamanca was an excellent place for him.
“If you like the idea of a University with more of a small, Corvallis type feel, rather than somewhere like Portland State built into a much bigger city, then University of Salamanca might be a good fit for you,” he concluded.