Salamanca: Work, Beauty and Friendship… by Sansy Rewatkar (Year 13)
During the week of 16-23 July, I had the fantastic opportunity to go to the beautiful city of Salamanca in Spain for work experience. I was incredibly excited at this chance to improve my Spanish as well as explore the beautiful city. I made good friends along the way with whom I will definitely keep in touch. Three group leaders accompanied us and were there to chat about any problems with our work placements, or for a general chat to ensure we fully enjoyed the experience. They were quite liberal; although we had a curfew, we were allowed full independence on the trip in terms of how we spent our time.
For my work experience, I worked at a music shop in the heart of Salamanca called ‘Musical Iglesias’. It was a family business owned by the Iglesias family, made up of three sisters: Lourdes, Marife and Cristina, along with Marife’s daughter María who helped when she could. The shop was a 5 minute walk from the hotel which meant I could leave late and still arrive on time. My hours were 10:30am-1:30pm, followed by a 4 hour siesta (a break taken due to the hot weather and to grab lunch) and then 5:30-7pm.
I did a few general housekeeping jobs such as cleaning keyboards or tuning guitars. Some jobs were quite useful, for example, learning how to fix a broken violin (this was helpful because I play the violin) and translating English into Spanish for a customer who could not speak English. I am quite proud that I managed for the most part to speak in Spanish.
Never have I felt more welcome in a workplace; the family treated me as one of their own. They were also musicians and María and Cristina even had duet sessions with me during breaks. The family very kindly treated me to churros and coffee every morning in a nearby café and let me play their pianos (I confess that I came prepared with my music in my luggage).
What made me feel even more at home was the fact that, during my time there, they also wanted to get to know about me and my life and eventually I was able to meet the entire family as they all came to visit. I was incredibly sad to leave them at the end of the week and felt very emotional when they gave me a necklace with a treble clef pendant and earrings shaped like quaver notes as a goodbye present.
There are many things to do in Salamanca in terms of its social life. One of the main attractions is the Plaza Mayor (or main square) which has a whole manner of restaurants and shops. At night-time, the square turns into a busking and social haven and you can hear bands playing Spanish music from almost every corner.
There are many bars too, the two main ones being Camelot and Gatsby, where you can dance the night away (or in our group’s case, until curfew).
The early morning is also beautiful to experience. One of my fondest memories of the trip is going for a walk with one of my friends in the fresh morning air, before the blazing heat and the arrival of all the tourist groups.
I cannot recommend this experience enough. It made me realise the difference between learning Spanish in the classroom, studying topics like the environment and immigration (at least at A Level), and combining this with more of a conversational approach to Spanish whilst working and living in Spain. The trip greatly increased my confidence as a student of Spanish.