I’m pretty sure it goes without saying that going abroad is a unique experience for those of us who are used to our American culture. Therefore, I won’t say anything along those lines. After all, what’s the point of doing anything new if all you take from it is your own preconceived notions and ideas? So forgive me if I take a bit of a different tack here, because I actually do hate everything about this trip so far.
Before we get into that, let me tell you what I did yesterday. I had the opportunity to write about any number of school trips and events, such as a Basque cooking class, a trip to Bilbao, or a wine tasting. Instead, I’m writing about a free day that had no planned activities. This, in my humble opinion, lets all of you see exactly how an expatriate lives and feels in San Sebastian, Spain. So disclaimer: if you’re expecting a deep dissertation on an educational class trip, you might want to look elsewhere.
Let’s start with the first thing of the day, and generally my favorite part of most 24-hour periods: breakfast. Or as they apparently call it in Spain, bread. Arick and I have had bread every single morning since our arrival, since some Basque people think it’s heresy to have even eggs for breakfast. Maybe that speaks more to the hedonistic and over-the-top attitude of America, but I digress. Next up, school. Lacunza school is a pretty doggone good place to be if you want to learn Spanish. They focus on conversational and everyday Spanish, which helped my painfully American self learn how to survive in this foreign land. That, coupled with its proximity to a shop with wicked good cafe con leche and cafe con chocolate, would lead me to write it a glowing Yelp review if such a thing were possible.
What I’ve just described is a typical morning for a student abroad. Wake up, eat a fat breakfast of pan, then head out and attempt to hone your survival skills and look less like a complete moron. The rest of the day? Filled with exploration and activities all around the city and its surrounding areas. We’ve been all over this section of Basque country, learning about its history and its culture, all of which is fascinating. From climbing Jesus Mountain, to going to a Spanish blues festival, to paddlesurfing in the blue ocean, to sharing a drink with a bunch of Spanish youths on the massive stairway outside my house, there is very rarely a dull moment.
Which is exactly what makes the dull moment important for me. I’m writing right now about a night on the beach. No activities, no bar hopping, no escapades, even though a lot of my time here has been filled with such things. Last night I just spent some time on the beach, hanging out with some friends and doing absolutely nothing special. I looked around at the lights lighting up the mountains off the coast. I heard a couple laugh as they walked down the boulevard. I saw a man walk down the waterline with his dog. I heard vague hints of music from the carousel. And I just knew that I hated everything about it.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If that’s so, take a look at a few thousand words, and I’ll tell you why I despise them.
These are all things I got to see. These landscapes and beautiful sights amazed and awed me. I got to see with my own eyes things most people only see in books or in a Google search bar. And I hated it. I hated it because I knew that I would never again feel this way. That moment on the beach, with the breeze blowing off the bay and the glowing vibe of San Sebastian all around me, is something I can never feel again in exactly that way. The absolute awesome and unreal feeling that struck me this first time on foreign shores won’t come back the same. This is my first time abroad and the experience is completely amazing and awe-inspiring. I have not spent a single moment of this trip not utterly grateful for the unbelievable experience of every moment here, and I know that this sense of wonder won’t ever be the same. I hate this trip for its fantastic and unbelievable experiences, which have touched my heart in a way nothing else ever will.
Yet there’s something to be said for all this. As much as I hate what this trip has done to me and to all my future experiences, it’s also sparked something. I’ve discovered a new love for the world and all it has to offer. My life is one of passions; as a kid who first picked up a guitar three years ago because he was tired of merely air guitaring to Stevie Ray Vaughan, received no training all through high school and learned to play purely through emotion, and is now a music student not because of skill, training, or marketability but instead pure love for the subject, I’ve based a lot of my adult life purely on passion. This trip has awakened a new intense love for the world and exploring it. I know I may never experience anything like this trip ever again, but I have a hunger for it. I may never get another moment like I had on the beach, but there are more beaches and more moments out there to be had, and I am determined to find them.