From San Sebastian to Southern Spain

Finishing study abroad in Spain with lots of fun travel

The week in San Sebastian went by so fast, and everyone seems sad to say goodbye, both students and especially host families. I definitely saw some tears. On our bus ride to the Bilbao airport I heard some stories from their immersion week.

Monique told me that the first day she found out that last year her family hosted a friend of hers from California, so she had an immediate connection with her host sister.

Diana told me that she heard a lot of Euksara, the language from the Basque Country. Her host sister was very involved in basque dancing, so Diana saw a lot of traditional dance.

Nora tried snails, which she didn’t think weren’t too bad. While she was eating them her host father jokingly took a snail from the garden and let it slide along the table. Jordan’s brother, who apparently thought that Jordan was sleeping in too late, woke him up one morning with a megaphone. Jordan got up earlier after that.

On Eena’s birthday, she woke up to a birthday cake with candles and “Cumpleanos Feliz” sung to her. They also gave her a bracelet. Anais normally goes to France for family summer vacations. She told her host mother this, and the mother took her to France for a day, since San Sebastian is right near the French border.

Zoe’s sister woke up to fresh squeezed orange juice courtesy of her host sister. They also went to the beach and played cards for hours. When I ran into her during the week she had got some sun. She told me, “I was just on the beach for 7 hours!”

James played soccer with his host brother and his friends. He told me, “I was showed up!” I think that means the host brothers were better than him.
Pearl’s host dad showed her how to make a Spanish tortilla because he knew it was her favorite food in Spain. Sarah’s family took her out on a sailboat one day. Sarah got a little seasick and after 15 minutes the boat trip was over. But Sarah says it was still a lot of fun!

The Basque Country is very matrilineal  and traditionally men would usually give the paycheck directly to the wife to use as she pleased. Therefore men created societies, sort of like clubs where they could cook, and women weren’t allowed. Now women are allowed but they still can’t cook or even go into the kitchen. Both Maxes and Colton, whose families are friends went to the club one night for a big party. Max H said, “It was a feast and everyone at the party was expected to pitch in.”

Ned really wanted peanut butter and jelly sandwich and his family had no idea what peanut butter was. So they all went to the foreign isle of the grocery store to find it. Patrick had a bruise on his face when I saw him. He told me that he had been body surfing and hit the sand, but he’s healing fine. He also went kayaking, quite the adventurous family.

Amanda’s host grandma always “called her out” when she said “Si” to things she didn’t understand. Annie G has found her new favorite candy – a spicy gummy in the shape of a chili. Joe’s family bought him some traditional Basque shoes. They are cloth shoes that look like Tom’s. Joe is still wondering when he is going to wear them.

Tara went to Bilbao with her sister and saw the Guggenheim. She also bought a very cute 5 euro H&M dress the day I ran into her. Charlotte went to an island with her host sister and her friends. There was a platform that you could jump off into the ocean. When I asked, “wasn’t the water cold?” she said “not compared to San Francisco!”

We were all together again when we spent our first night reunited in Sevilla. We have to enjoy each moment because the end is coming!

We Have Been Everywhere Man

After Cordoba, it was a 2 hour bus ride to Granada to see the Alhambra!
Once a fortified city, the Alhambra is considered the best representation of Muslim influence. It is an incredible work of architecture. We also had these very cool headphones so we could hear our guide in a crowded place. However the tour was in Spanish, so probably the students still didn’t get everything. After their immersion week, everyone’s comprehension should have improved.

Granada was beautiful! After dinner we took a walk up to a viewpoint in the Sacromonte neighborhood, which is home to many gypsies. It’s also where we saw a flamenco show. In a cave filled with 40 some odd tourists we watched the locals dance, sing, and play the guitar. The best part was when an older woman performed. She would stop in the middle to tell someone “no video” and as James said “her stare pierced you in your soul”. Luckily we got a bus back to the hotel because we were all exhausted.

The next day we arrived in Nerja around 12:30 and had a visit to the famous Nerja Cave. Zoe and Patrick walked by me and said “this looks like a cathedral!” it was impressive with the largest stalagmite in the world, created with a trillion drops.

Today is our last day and everyone is feeling a little sad and a little stressed, especially about making weight limit on the flight home. On the last flight, Bilbao to Sevilla people in the line literally clapped for Heather when she made weight limit.

Kayaking was incredible though the waves were choppy and a couple of the students flipped over. I think we can blame Felix and Joe for one of those flips.
As everyone is packing, I’m thinking of what a great trip this has been and how many wonderful memories the students will have. They have improved their Spanish, stepped out of their comfort zones, and matured a lot. I imagine that they will all want to return to Spain someday or continue traveling and exploring. 

On a personal note I have really enjoyed getting to know all of your students on this trip. I know that both Marya and I think that they are hilarious and fun and each has such a unique personality. We are really going to miss them!

– Kerry Tiedeman, Assistant US Leader

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