Lights in Salamanca
Gathered around a bench in front of the clock in the Plaza, we waited with bated breath. It was our last night, and we’d never seen it. I had been out on one last citywide adventure with one of my roommates. Peyton and I walked all the way out to the Roman bridge; it’s got the best view of Salamanca you could ever hope for. You can see everything from there: the cathedrals, the roofs on the buildings in the old town, the Tormes River, everything. Even though it was almost 10, the sun hadn’t yet set and we made our way back to the Plaza to meet some friends. We’d been told that they turn the lights on at 10 p.m. every night. Like I said, somehow none of us had seen it. So there we were, waiting. We held our phones in our hands, ready and waiting to capture one of our final memories in our favorite city.
For those that haven’t seen it, the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca is like something out of a dream. When the sun is high, the yellow sandstone walls seem to glow, proving that “The Golden City” is a well-deserved moniker. At night, soft lights illuminate the windows, the lampposts in the corners, and the arches of the walls. The glow radiates across the space, reflecting on the well-worn stone below and creating an ethereal glow that’ll stop you in your tracks no matter how many times you experience it. Sometimes late at night (I guess you could technically call it morning), I’d get the plaza almost all to myself, save for a few fellow stragglers making their way home. Every time, without fail, I’d stop and wonder how I got lucky enough to call Salamanca my home.
I know I was only there for four months, but yeah, Salamanca was my home. I laughed there, I cried there and I left pieces of my heart there. I left pieces hidden in the ‘secret’ gardens near the cathedrals, perched on the edge of the Roman bridge and resting on a bench in the Plaza. I left a piece every time I strolled down Calle Toro, every time I got lost, and whenever I stayed out dancing past 5 a.m.
When those lights came on and lit up the Plaza on our very last night, I was struck with a sudden flood of emotion. I lowered my phone and I realized that this was, in a way, a perfect representation of my entire semester here. There was excitement and anticipation. There was and adventure, something unknown and it was over in a flash. As the applause died down and my group dispersed, I was in a daze, reminiscing on my semester, as I am now. I was taken back to my journey here, awkwardly making friends and all the adventures I’d experienced in the past four months.
Despite all the bumps in the road along the way, I wouldn’t change any aspect of this experience. If your time at college goes by in the blink of an eye, then studying abroad goes by in just a wink. My four months in Spain felt more like four weeks, but I have enough memories to last me forever.
Maire Guinee, a senior, studies English and Spanish. She is a staff writerr for Le Provocateur.