Throughout my time here in San Sebastián, I’ve learned so much about culture and how it brings people together. Being completely immersed in a new country, I now have a better understanding of why language is so powerful. Having been surrounded by more than one language all at the same time has allowed me to truly appreciate the art of language. We have had plenty of excursions throughout our whole trip, and culture and language have been huge focal points. There isn’t a day where I haven’t learned something new here in San Sebastián.
For the majority of my time here, I’ve been learning Spanish. However, the native language here is Basque. Basque is unlike any other language and is no way similar to Spanish. Today, our class walked up to Mount Urgull for a Basuqe language class. We learned some basic Basque, which only showed me how difficult it was to learn a brand new language. San Sebastián prides itself on being the cultural capital of the Basque Country, so speaking the native language here truly identifies locals as Basque people. Frequently, you will hear people greet you in Basque, but then continue the rest of the conversation in Spanish. Our Basque class taught us how to greet others and say goodbye in Basque, which are the most commonly used Basque phrases when carrying a conversation with a local. It was really cool to get a taste of a new language while here in the Basque country. Undoubtedly, language is one of the most important gateways to communicating with people all over this Earth, making it a major necessity to those who wish to travel in their lifetime.
Language is a major tool, that when utilized correctly, can immerse us in other cultures. However, it can also be a barrier. Sometimes, I have a hard time explaining what I want to say in Spanish, so I revert to using English. I’ve encountered many people here who also understand English in addition to their native language, as well as other languages. In America, our default language is English, of course, so many people do not take the time to learn any other language. However, because English is a universal language, everyone else outside of the US must put in an effort to learn English. Kids around the world are raised learning English, along with their own native language, which is something that is so fascinating to me. Since San Sebastian borders France, many locals here speak Spanish, Basque, French, and English. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be to learn four languages all at one time. This enlightening experience has allowed me to have a new respect for people living outside of the US. Being surrounded by so many multilingual people made me realize that culturally, other countries are actually a step ahead of the US.
The differences between Spain and the United States are quite noticeable. The closest thing that resembled America here was the robots that we were able to take a look at in the museum. We visited the San Telmo Museum, which contained exhibits of different types of machines and robots. Artificial intelligence is becoming very prominent in America, and it was surprising to see that the robots have made it to Spain, as well.
Prior to arriving in Spain, I was working seven days a week, almost every week, leaving myself no free time. Countless hours of my days were spent doing things I didn’t want to do. However, these past three weeks in San Sebastián have consisted of beautiful, long days, where I’ve made the most of my time. Before traveling to Spain, I thought the best thing to do with my summer was work any chance I could, and, as a result, I was compensating all of my free time. My time here has brought me to the realization that life is short, so we must make the most of our days. Money is not as scarce as time, so we must take every opportunity we can to travel and experience everything that the Earth has to offer. If there is one thing I have learned here in San Sebastián, it’s that traveling will connect you to the rest of the world and make you aware that there is so much more beyond your home.
Outside of my small home, there are sites, languages, and foods that I never even knew existed. There’s a big world left to be discovered, and this trip reminded me of just how beautiful our world really is.