While having the opportunity to travel to Spain is certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity, and there are truly some incredible sites to check out, this trip is, first and foremost, a class. Actually, I suppose that it’s technically two classes.
Every morning, we head off to a school called Lacunza, where we have two class sessions on learning to speak Spanish. I was placed in an intermediate-level Spanish class, which is perfect because I understand a fair amount of Spanish, but not enough to actually hold a conversation. The teachers are great, and the fact that pretty much the entire class is in Spanish really helps because it forces you to practice the language.
The second class, which is taught by our professors from UML, Sean Conway and Julian Zabalbeascoa, focuses on Basque culture. So far this has involved a walking tour of San Sebastian, a museum tour, a pintxo tasting tour, and hikes up some of the various mountains.
Yesterday was one of these hikes. We hiked up Mount Urgull for a discussion about the book we read before we left for Spain, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. The book chronicles a group of Americans living in Paris who decide to take a trip to Pamplona for the fiesta. Our discussion involved an analysis of the characters and their situations, as well as some of the various cultural aspects that seem a bit odd in America but are perfectly normal in the Basque country, such as going from bar to bar ordering drinks and pintxos. In America, that would be very out of the ordinary, but in Spain, it is actually abnormal to stay in the same bar for an extended period of time.
Aside from the discussion, our hike up the mountain provided some fascinating sites. There is a fantastic view of La Concha, which is San Sebastian’s most popular beach. There are also some really nice grassy areas where people will bring their kids and their dogs to play, or where they can just hang out and enjoy the view, and where we had our literature discussion. The mountain is also littered with stone buildings that serve as passageways from one part of the mountain to another. At the very top of the mountain, there is a stone statue of Jesus Christ overlooking the city. All in all, it is a very beautiful mountain.
In fact, the entire city is beautiful. There are so many spots throughout the city with a view of the water, and it is simply gorgeous. I have spent more than my fair share of time at Zurriola Beach. It is about a ten minute walk from my house and is an excellent spot to hang out with my friends or just lay in the sun and take a nap.
This has been an absolutely fantastic trip so far. I am sad that it is already half over, but we still have half the trip to go, and I am really looking forward to seeing what is in store for us.