First Semester Abroad in Salamanca

IntroductionSalamanca FSAs FA13

Colby in Salamanca offers incoming first-year Colby students an in-depth, language-intensive experience of cross-cultural study in the heart of Spain. Through a structured, demanding program of classes and cultural interaction, Colby in Salamanca seeks to provide students with an understanding of the differences between the American and Spanish ways of life, and to enable students to better understand the complexities of Spanish culture. The program is open to students with various levels of Spanish, from two years in high school to advanced placement. Upper class Colby students are also part of the Salamanca group.

Academic Program

As part of the Colby in Salamanca program, students take language and civilization courses for five hours a day at Cursos Internacionales of the Universidad de Salamanca. The department offers courses in Spanish for international (non-Spanish speaking) students at all levels, from basic to advanced. You will be placed in language and culture classes according to your proficiency level (inicial, intermedio, avanzado, or superior) which will be determined by an initial placement exam. You will have the opportunity to be re-tested after completing the first period of classes. 

In general, the first-year programs abroad have a fixed curriculum, which means that course options are more limited than they will be during January and the spring semester at Colby. Based on the language placement test upon arrival, students are placed in the section appropriate to their language level.

In Salamanca, courses include:

  • Intensive Spanish (at your level)
  • A choice of Spanish literature, Spanish art history, Spanish history, Spanish culture, or Spanish and Latin American Cinema (at your level)
  • Seminar on Contemporary Spain

You will, if you successfully complete the intermediate language course with a grade of C or better, satisfy Colby’s language requirement. Students who do not complete the intermediate level will normally be required to take a semester of Spanish at Colby to satisfy the language requirement.  You may also satisfy the arts requirement, the history requirement, or the literature requirement, depending on which classes you choose to take.

Language classes run for three hours each day, Monday through Friday and may be scheduled either during the morning or early evening hours. You will be attending language courses with students from around the world who are also interested in learning Spanish. Many of these students are from European countries, but there are some other Americans as well as students from Africa and Asia. Colby also runs junior-level programs in this location, and some of the juniors may be in your language courses. The first-year seminar in Salamanca will be for Colby first-year students only.

Jessie Guild - SpainThe Homestay

The purpose of the Salamanca homestay is to provide both a physical home and a cultural and social window into Spanish life. Your homestay family has been chosen with care, but even so, there is no guarantee that your personalities will match. No two families are alike; habits and traditions differ considerably from one family to another. Some families may invite their host students to family events or outings; others will not. Some families may allow students to use the kitchen and serve themselves from the refrigerator; others will be more private and protective of their space. Enjoy observing different traditions and patterns of interaction. The most important quality you yourself can have is adaptability. Be as flexible and as positive as possible. Some households may resemble boarding homes more than the home you are used to in the U.S. Many families take in more than one student; however, we have asked that there not be another American or English-speaking student in your household. In fact, every host family enters into an agreement with Colby in Salamanca acknowledging that no other English-speaking student will reside in the same residence.

Program Schedule (Fall 2014 calendar)

There is time for personal travel during the mid-semester break, but students are expected to attend all their classes and may lose credit or have their grades lowered if they miss classes for travel. Parents who wish to visit their sons or daughters should not expect that students would be able to miss classes. 

Social Life and Extra-curricular Activities

Animadores: Colby arranges to have a number of Spanish college-age students to meet with the group during the semester to provide a student perspective on life in Salamanca.


  • Weekend excursions to Segovia, Madrid, Toledo, Avila and more
  • Excursion to Asturias-Cantabria
  • Excursion to Andalucia

The cost of excursions is included in the program fee.

Cultural events: All cultural activities (museums, movies, theatre, sport, etc…) in Spain are reimbursed 50%.

Fitness: there are several gyms that offer reasonable rates.

Community service: Volunteer activities through the University or in the community are also possible.

Program Fee

The fees for Colby programs abroad are equivalent to the comprehensive fees for Colby College. The fee covers: tuition, room, board or a board allowance, excursions, and roundtrip airfare and transfers to program sites. Books, meals during vacation periods, insurance, laundry expenses, and personal travel are not included.

Health and Safety

Students are responsible for their own health insurance, and proof of health insurance must be submitted before students may leave for Spain. If a student needs health care while in Salamanca, he or she must pay for services (credit cards are accepted) and submit the bill to his or her family's insurance company for reimbursement.

The resident director briefs students on safety issues during the orientation period. Salamanca is considered a relatively safe city, but the standard precautions of living in an urban area are required. 

Student Experience

View a scanned copy of the student-produced Colby in Salamanca Student Guidebook which is sent to incoming FSA students prior to departure.