The End of a Journey

Everyone else has had to write about one specific day. One miniscule dot of time within our three-week trip. For a single day even three thousand words could not possibly describe the sights I have seen, the emotions I have felt and the culture I have absorbed. It is impossible to give a summary of such an experience, but I can give a brief insight into the life and memories of a student abroad. Of course, because I was a student abroad it is only right that I talk about the student aspect of the trip. I never knew that classes could be both three hours long and entertaining. These are two concepts that should not pair well but somehow, they did. The teachers clearly cared about us and our learning. They tried to make the classes fun with class and group activities which only furthered our Spanish speaking. There were also so many things our teachers had no concept of from America and vice versa. Each class was an exchange of culture from students to teacher and teacher to students. The highlight of these class though, was probably the bike ride. Each morning we woke up and ate our surprisingly decent Olarain breakfast and biked to class at nine in the morning. The first day we biked to class I was unable to admire the view since I was running on three hours of sleep. But on the second day, I was able to absorb the breathtaking sights of San Sebastian. The gorgeous turquoise water welcoming the suns rays. The statue of Jesus on Mt. Urgull staring down at the vibrant city as if he is their protector. The city streets which were lined with unique architectural styles and the infamous Spanish style roofs which are more colorful and stylish than the dull gray ones we have at home. All of it was completely new to me and each bike ride I could not help but stare and think that I was somewhere I had never been before. And the trips I went on with other classmates only further enveloped myself within the Basque country of Spain. One of my favorite memories has to be hiking up and around the mountains to Pasaia. It was a two-hour hike in which my legs burned with each step, and I almost fell on the steep steps a couple of times. In the moment, I felt like death but the views from the mountain helped to alleviate this pain almost entirely. The path was along the outskirts of the mountain and there was little bramble and trees in the way, so the view was perfect. The ocean stretched on for hundreds upon hundreds of miles, encompassing the landscape as I realized that home was across that great blue expanse. The clouds blanketed the light blue sky as far as the eye could see as well, deep into the horizon. The city of Pasaia was remarkable as well. It lay tucked into the mountains, cradled by the Earth, separated by a river in which a ferry was needed to get to the other side. There we visited a boat museum and factory which detailed the history of the Basques as fishermen and whalers. There was also a replica of a Basque ship being built there, years of hard work all to recreate the culture of the Basque people. I say that as if the Basque culture is dying out, but in no way is that the case. During the grand festival which started on August 13th the culture of the Basque had been displayed every day until yesterday when I left. At the beginning of the “semana grande” as the Spanish call it, a cannon was used to commence the party and people dressed in traditional Basque/Spanish outfits to dance and sing. I can’t say I understood any of the concerts that were displayed but they were still impressive. As others sang in Basque in the center of Old Town kids danced with a joyous vitality and I wondered how they never ran out of energy. But just looking around everyone seemed the same way. Simply full of joy unlike I had ever seen before. That is all I needed to see to know that this was something special to them. Their culture is something they cherish, and they love they country they live in. I can see why after spending three weeks there. This trip was only three weeks but, it is something I will look back upon with joy for the rest of my life.