Classes and San Sebastián

Classes have officially begun and I really enjoy all of them so far…granted I have only had two days of class, but still. I am taking four classes and one seminar class, three in Spanish and two in English.

  1. Spanish Class: It is the Advanced Spanish class where we just work on improving our grammar, conversing in class, and learning about Spain. All international students get placed in a Spanish class adequate to their level of Spanish based on written and oral exams that we took before classes started.
  2. Cultural Studies: I think that this class will be my favorite this semester. Our professor has a very clear accent and is extremely passionate about her country. We will be lerning about the culture of Spain, like fútbol, music, food, and history. This class is taught completely in Spanish too.
  3. Latinamerican Literature: I can already tell that this will be one of my more difficult classes because the professor’s accent is Argentinian–not Spanish–so he speaks much faster and doesn’t enunciate as well as most Spaniards (example: he pronounces calle like Cajé for all you IV people out there). I think that the content will be interesting, but I have to be on top of my reding because its all advanced Spanish literature, which takes me a lot longer to read.
  4. Gender Perspectives: This class in fully in English, so we read translated literature from European and Spanish authors. Our professor for this class is young and encourges us to talk and share our opinions in class. I have never taken a gender studies or feminist studies class, so I’m excited for this one.
  5. Aesthetics, Christianity, and Mysticism: This is an English seminar class that I signed up for and I truly could not tell you what it is about. The class starts on Monday, so I can update then. If you have any guesses about what this class will be about based on the class title, please send them my way.
Breakfast on the first day of school! Except these pancakes will never beat Keli Hons’ recipe.

This weekend, we were in desperate need of any sort of body of water. The man-made lake in Retiro wasn’t cutting it anymore, so we decided to make the five-hour trek to Donostia-San Sebastián. It’s a small beach city in the northern most part of the Basque Country in Spain. We spent every day on the beach, so we could soak in as much sun as we could before going back to our uncomfortably hot home of Madrid. On Friday, we hiked up Monte Urgull to Castillo de Santa Cruz de la Mota. There was a historical museum and a massive stone statue of Jesus Christ with a beautiful view of the city below. After, we went to Playa Zuriolla, which is the main surf spot in San Sebastián. The waves at Zuriolla were at least three feet overhead (~8 ft), which made Devs look so small in comparison. I miss surfing in IV 😦

View of La Kontxa Bay from the top of Monte Urgull

On Saturday, we went to the more popular Playa Kontxa (pronounced Concha) right near our hostel. We were on the beach for hours and I definitely got a little burnt, but I loved every minute of it. After the beach, we went into the old town to get pintxos (in Basque Country, Spanish is not their national language, so most signs and posters are written in Basque. So, whenever you see a ‘tx’ in aBasque word, it is pronounced like ‘ch’). Pintxos are almost like the tapas that we have in Madrid, but in my opinion, pintxos are so much better. There is a lot more of a variety of food in San Sebastián because it’s a port city. I may have to go back to San Sebastián just for pintxos, who knows.

Pintxos in Pueblo Viejo

On Sunday, we watched the famous Regatta in La Kontxa Bay. This is an annual rowing competition that takes place in San Sebastián. It felt like the entire city was there to see the Regatta because people were lined up at every viewpoint around the beach, even up on Monte Urgull. I still don’t really understand how rowing works in Spain aside from the boats looking different, but it was still so cool to see how big the Regatta is to Spaniards. It was such a fun community event to experience even as a tourist.

Beach view of La Regatta

Another huge reason that I went to San Sebastián was to visit my lovely UCSB pal, Gigi Jackson, who is studying abroad at Universidad del País Vasco. It was the best first weekend away since being in Madrid and I’m so grateful to have friends all over Europe. Next, it’s Gigi’s turn to come visit me 😉

This weekend I got to speak so much Spanish and even got a few compliments on it! I always try to speak Spanish to everyone that I can, whether it’s at a bar or a restaurant, but sometimes servers will immediately speak in English because I look extremely not Spanish. Even when I continue in Spanish, they keep going in English and then it just gets awkward, haha. Gotta keep trying though, am I right? I also found out that when you do dos besos, you’re supposed to move your head to the left first, then the right. You actually “kiss” their right cheek first, but have to move your head to the left. I almost had a few awkward encounters before I was told the right way to do it, lol.

Basically, I had a fantastic weekend and am learning new things about Spain every day, which I am excited to share with you all on here!!


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