Spain Will Be Missed

It’s hard to believe that two weeks ago I embarked on my journey to Spain–hopeful that it would meet my expectations.  Honestly, those expectations were unknown: I didn’t know what to expect at all: I was entering a new country, a new city, a new home.  Staying in someone else’s home in a foreign country was so nerve racking, but fortunately I got paired with an amazing homestay who catered to my needs and helped me thrive in San Sebastián.IMG_4608

Looking back on my experience, I definitely gained insight into the lives of a typical Spanish family.  Surprisingly, it is pretty similar to my family.  My host family was very tight knit–they ate meals together, went out into the city together, and just enjoyed each other’s company.

As I sit here at home writing this post, I am missing sitting in my room in Spain, getting ready for the three minute walk to the beach!  I miss so much about the beautiful city of San Sebastián.  I would, with no doubt, return!

Thank you SPI for an amazing experience!

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Gelato FAQ’s by Erin

If you ever find the time to visit San Sebastián (which, of course, you should!), I would recommend spending a lot of time at the beach, touring through the city to view the amazing architecture, and taking some hikes for astonishing views.  But, if you ever crave something sweet, gelato is hands-down my #1 suggestion.

Here are some “FAQs” so that you really know that facts about gelato in San Sebastián before you visit:

(Disclaimer: answers are from my personal experience!)

Is the gelato in San Sebastián really that good?

Is that even a question?!  Absolutely… yes.  There are tons of flavors, the cones are amazing, and if you don’t get your gelato in a cone, you will most likely receive a cookie-straw in your cup.  Trust me, it’s worth it.

Where can I find the nearest gelato place?

They are EVERYWHERE.  Some streets have multiple gelato places in one condensed area.  I guarantee you will stumble upon some gelato on your walk to just about anywhere in the city.  And if you don’t, the beach is a perfect central area that has gelato places near it.IMG_4399

Is it possible to get artsy pictures of my gelato when I am in San Sebastián?

It is completely possible, and it has been done!  TIP: buy your gelato during sunset.

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Do you have any flavor recommendations?

Chocolate is my personal favorite.  It is both rich and creamy!

 

Is gelato addicting in San Sebastián?

Yes!  Once you have it once, it is pretty likely that you will be craving it every day.  Luckily, being in a city and having to walk everywhere gives some extra incentive to reward yourself with some gelato 🙂

Thank you San Sebastián for providing me with some amazing dessert!

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I’m gonna miss…

Thursday, June 30

As this trip comes to an end, (sadly!!) I have been reflecting on what I’m going to miss most…and it’s a pretty predictable answer: the beach. While I would assume that most people would say the same (let’s be honest…we are in a beach town for two weeks), I have never seen such pristine beaches with such amazing sunsets.

This week, we took a relatively short bus ride to Zumaia, a small town with beautiful beaches and natural caves. I was amazed by the scenery…so I of course chose to spend my time relaxing and exploring the caves and rocks on the beach.

I’m also going to miss the accessibility of these beaches. I am lucky enough to live a short 5 minute walking distance from Zurriola beach, as well as a 15 minute walk from La Concha, another beach. Being so close to these beaches, but still living in a city environment makes me definitely want something like this later in life. I am so grateful for these two weeks full of my favorite place!

One Week=complete

Sunday, June 26:

This week has been amazing–we have packed so much into such a short amount of time. From hiking, to swimming at multiple beaches, to getting gelato (every day), to eating lots of pintxos, there is so much to do and see here.

At first, understanding my homestay was a struggle, but I am beginning to improve in my communication!  Every night, we have dinner and talk about our daily lives at home and here.

Yesterday, we travelled to Biarritz, France, a city also situated on the water (about a one hour drive) and basically received a few hours to just explore the city. We got lunch at a cute restaurant outside, then looked at some shops.  We also explored the beach area. Biarritz was actually pretty similar to San Sebastián except for the fact that I could not speak one word of French. We mostly spoke a mix of Spanish and English, not knowing what people speak, and forgetting what to speak. It makes me thankful for my communication skills in San Sebastián

Here’s to another great week here!

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¡San Sebastián!

Monday, June 20

After a long drive from Madrid to Segovia to the Basque Country, we made it to San Sebastián!

Segovia was beautiful. We wandered around the streets and viewed amazing old architecture, plazas, and a castle. After eating lunch in Segovia (we found a cute pizzeria), we headed to the bus for a 3 hour ride to San Sebastián. 

Once we were a few minutes from the city, many of us were anxiously waiting to finally meet our homestay!  I wasn’t sure what to expect!  We finally arrived and when our names were called, we were welcomed by our host mom Josune and her youngest daughter (10 years old), Nora. We walked to her apartment which is right near the beach and the center of town. After talking to the family for a bit, we ate dinner. Josune made a “tortilla”, which is made of egg and potato and salad. I am a very picky eater so even this was pretty adventurous for me!
Today we went to our language school and broke off into small groups for classes and our placement exam. After class we ate lunch, went to the beach by our apartment, went on a walking tour through the city, and after dinner, went back to the beach for sunset. It has been an eventful day!
What I can say, after being here for one day so far, is that San Sebastián is beautiful!  I can’t wait to see what’s to come!

We have arrived!

Saturday, June 18:

After a long, slightly delayed flight, we made it to Madrid!  It has been a very tiring, but eventful day.  After landing this morning, we headed to the hotel and joined students who came from other flights.  We met people from our two week trip, the four week trip, and the Santander trip–so many people!

After getting settled in and having a buffet style lunch, the San Sebastián two-week groups headed to our Madrid Walking tour, where we saw some amazing sights, such as a huge park in the city, statues, the royal palace, and a few plazas.  It was a beautiful day for sightseeing!IMG_4614

I am still a bit jet-lagged, but I am hoping to get used to the 6-hour time difference soon.

Tomorrow we are off to Segovia and then our final destination: San Sebastián!

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Packing

Wednesday, June 15:

Packing…my biggest struggle.  I tend to be an overpacker…yes, I’m the girl who packs at least double the amount of shirts, pants, and shoes necessary, but to me it’s always worth it.  Of course, i’d rather be overprepared than underprepared, but I do realize that I may have to cut down a bit.

Thursday, June 16:

I have finally made progress!   I have organized my clothes into categories: shirts, shorts, dresses, jackets, pajamas, etc.  So, even though I definitely brought more than I need, everything is in order and should fit perfectly in my suitcase.

Friday, June 17:

It was definitely a struggle, but somehow I fit everything in my bag and I am ready to go!  I jam-packed a LOT of clothes in one suitcase for two weeks, but I will make it work.  Now I am officially ready to begin this journey to España!

My Adventure Awaits

Venturing out into the world is exciting to me; exploring the unknown is exhilarating; and going out my comfort zone is scary, but so worth it.  I’m not exactly the “stay-at-home” type.  Whenever I can, I love to be out of the house, on an airplane, in a new city, or trying something new.  Because the school year is so busy, I don’t exactly have time for that, so my summertime is always devoted to travel.

I went to Spain with my family a few years ago, and it was absolutely amazing.  But I am looking forward to getting a completely new experience there.  What I love most about travelling is that in two short weeks so much can change: you can literally change as a person after being exposed to a new culture.  While I am overly excited for the beaches, cute shopping areas, and good food, I just cannot wait to immerse myself into the life of a typical San Sebastián teen.

So why SPI San Sebastián?

I’ve had my eye on this specific trip since 9th grade.  My school has an immersion requirement, so every single student must go on some type of linguistic, wilderness, or service trip before graduation.  While many of my peers joined practically any trip to get it over with, I wanted to wait a few years until I felt prepared to embark on this major journey.  After carefully researching many programs and locations, SPI seemed to fit all my criteria.  While initially I didn’t love the idea of being forced to go on such a trip, I realize now how grateful I am for the opportunity to travel, because I may never have found something like this without my school’s encouragement.

To be honest, hiking in the outdoors for two weeks did not exactly sound like an ideal journey for me personally.  After hearing from my neighbor who is an extremely experienced traveller that San Sebastián was his absolute favorite destination of all time, my decision was made in an instant.

Finally, my Spanish skills are going to be put to the test in Spain.  While I have completed many levels of Spanish over the years, my conversational skills are definitely still developing.  I am hopeful that my experience in Spain will help me become more comfortable speaking, so that when I return to school in September, I will feel confident towards the year ahead.

So, as I am nearing the end of my junior year, I am ready to finish up to ultimately reach the day of departure for a trip I have been awaiting for so long!  I am so excited to see what it will bring!