Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oh man ! that's a lot of spanish...

I am so very sorry that I have not written in a while. I had a feeling this might happen once my weeks started to fill up with more activities, but I shouldn't neglect the blog..well since my last entry I have had many new/fun/scary experiences but I will talk about a few special ones. So a couple of days ago I went on a hike up to visit Jesus. Well, not really haha but the famous statue that is on top of the mountain here in S.S. You can climb it and it takes about 40 minutes. It circles around until you reach the top and then you are standing directly under the giant Jesus. It is pretty amazing because he is actually standing on an ancient castle that has been there for hundreds of years. It was built to protect the city from invaders. People would live in this castle and would keep a look out for any signs of invasion. This particular view is really beautiful because you can see all of Donostia. (basque for san sebastian). I was going to take pictures but sadly my camera was out of batteries. Ughh so annoying. I plan on going on a run up there again and I will be better prepared I promise. I have also found a soccer team which I have already mentioned, but I met all the players for the first time yesterday. The girls are mostly from Holland and one of them is from England and they all seem really fun and easy going. What's really funny about this team is that our team picture and scores are printed in the local newspaper. haha!!  I really hope we don't lose too bad. Actually I know we won't, but still. Oh and we wear orange t shirts with no numbers but whatever!! Our first game is tomorrow at 7 pm and I seriously cannot wait to see how this works out. I am a little worried because some of the girls claim to never had played on a team before....yikes... haha. We also get a dinner for free from the club which is exciting.
My classes here are amazing. I am taking 18 units which is going to keep my very busy. I have my track 2 spanish class that is 3 hours 5 days a week, plus 2, 1 hour conversation class, plus a 1 hour class, 2 twice a week on basque culture and language. I just found out that we have a 20 page project due at the end of the semester!!! ohh man. I very happy about my teachers however, and that has not always been the case for me when it comes to spanish teachers. They are all very serious about our learning and I feel like it will push me to try harder. I have about 3 hours of hw a night....not kidding. Ser and estar are killing me. Anyways it is all worth it. Learning a second language is not supposed to be easy. Anyways my final and most exciting class is my basque cuisine class. I had my first class tonight and it is located in the parte vieja behind this amazing cathedral. When our class of about 27 people met up we had to follower our teacher down this sketch alley way that I would have never gone through on my own. We made our way up to this tavern looking restaurant and on the sign it said "Vasca de Gastronomia" which is pretty much means, "the eating society of the Basque country"...my kinda place. We went into this warm stone building with amazing smells and tons of Basque people running around tipsy off cider. I could tell that every one felt lucky to be in such a place and we were right to feel that way. We all sat down on this giant table that you would see in a renaissance movie or something and this fat, jolly bearded man came in and welcomed us and told us about the place we were in (in spanish of course) my head was hurting... but a gastronomic society is a club that is all about keeping the basque culture alive, and in this case, the food. You cannot just go to one of the places like a restaurant, you have to be invited by a basque person to go. I am not going to go in it too much, but we found out that we will be cooking and then eating a 3 course meal every tuesday. One week we will be going to a cider house, which is a place where an alcoholic drink is made from apples. You eat tons of food and you squirt cider out of barrels into your cup!! haha we all have to sign a waver to go, but cider is more important to basques than wine so it would be silly not to try it in a basque cuisine class. Anyways... we didn't cook anything tonight but we had sopa de pescado first, menestra de cordero second (which is a lamb stew....) and then for dessert a bakes apple with raisins. It was soo good. We were all so full and happy that we all sat and laughed for like 20 minutes after we ate. It was such a fun way to get to know each other! Well that's all I can manage as of now. Oh but some friends and I are planning a trip to Paris for Valentines day weekend!!! I'll keep you updated!! Miss all of u!!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Parte Vieja

I am finally settled in my new apartment and I couldn't  have asked for a better living situation. I am sharing a huge room with a USAC student named Karen and then I also live with a Spanish girl named Amanda and an Italian girl named Francesca. They both do not speak english, so it will be great to practice with them. There is also one other american student who is are room mate, but she is out of town so I haven't met her yet. I moved in yesterday, or Monday here, and I couldn't believe that I was living in the el centro, which is the best location right in the heart of the city and shops, right next to the beach. We have a place that is meant for 7 people and its honestly a huge flat with a balcony. ahhhh sorry I feel like a bragger but I just feel really lucky to be living here. Anyways, the students from USAC and I have been hanging out a lot more because of the hours together during orientation. So last night we decided to all go out to Parte Vieja, which is where the best bars are. My room mates, who know the area really well, decided to go out with us too. So all 20 something of us met at the first bridge which connects to Gross, another part of town. It's so awesome to meet people in this environment, because everyone is very open and welcoming to make new friends we all want to have the best time we possibly can. We all walked to Parte Vieja and ended up going to a bar that Amanda suggested and we ended up being the only ones in the bar, but it was fine because it was such small place that we took up the whole place! We ended up staying there the whole night just getting to know each other which was really great. It was soo fun. The group is really fun and everyone gets along really well. Other news, we had to meet this morning at 11 am at the school so we took a long walk to school and got fruit and coffee for walk there, which a 45 minute walk by the way..We were 5 minutes late but, in spain, that is totally ok. haha. so weird. Anyways we took a placement exam yesterday to find out which spanish classes to take and it was so scary because we had to take a 45 minute multiple choice exam, and then also a private aural exam. Today we were given are results and I ended getting into the track I wanted,  track 2 so I was really happy about that. Classes start tomorrow and I have to get a phone finally, and I have no blankets on my bed soooo yeah thats not going to work. I am going to get going on that but I will write again soon.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Today I will find out where I live!!

It has been a couple of days since I last posted a blog but it's because I have been so busy! I find myself just wandering around the city exploring my area. Everything and everyone is so different and new and sitting in my hostel is not an option. Today is a special day however, because I am going to meet with the USAC people and I will find out where and who I am living with! I am really glad that I came a couple of days early because I have truly enjoyed getting up in the morning and getting a cafe con leche and walking everywhere. Yesterday I probably walked 10 miles. Seriously. It was an all day walking experience. No wonder the Basque people are so skinny! Also, yesterday I was offered a great opportunity. I hit it off with this girl from Holland who works at the hostel I am staying at. We were talking away (in english thank god) and she asked me if I played any sports. She is playing on a girls soccer team that is starting next Wednesday and the girls need more players.!!!! So awesome! She said all the girls are really fun and are from all over the world. They don't really practice during the week but they play on Wed nights, and then they go enjoy a drink afterwords. haha I love this place. So great because I was just looking online for any intramural teams. It will be really nice to have a group of girls to hang out with...finally. I also met this guy name Miquel who is really awesome and he has shown me and Hillary around, since he has lived here for many years. He is a relator in San Sebastian so... maybe he can help me find an affordable appt this summer...maybe maybe. Anyways I wish that all of the people that I love could be here to enjoy this place with me. It's more than I can handle haha. oh and I will put up pictures of some awesome pintxos that I tried along with my vino tinto!! I'm going to take a siesta but I will blog again tonight when I am at the hotel.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I actually made it to San Sebastian

I am super super tired right now but I just can't help but mention a couple of things about my journey and first night in Spain. (ok well a lot of things) So when I arrived in Madrid, my flight got delayed for like 6 hours, so I posted up and tried to sleep the time away since it was in the middle of the night in the United States. Everyone around me was so energized and spunky, probably because to them it was 2 in the afternoon... Anyways that was pretty tough to be so close, but still one more plane ride away. Finally when I got to SS, my friend Hillary who was flying with me had her amazing 70 something year old grandma come get us. This lady (Lordes) is honestly my idol. She is so healthy and energetic and fun! She doesn't speak any english so I thought I was going to be the third wheel sitting there while Hillary and her chatted away, but I gave spanish my best shot and she was so welcoming and warm that I didn't care that I sounded like a complete fool so it made things a lot easier. So Lordes does not have a car... cause in SS cars are just stupid since the transportation system is to good to be true. She came to help me get to my hostel and to ride with us through the town. She gave us a personal guide as we drove past huge statues of Jesus, and old churches, which was really nice of her. So the san sebastian airport was actually in a small town out side of SS, the name I can't remember at the moment but, it took us like 25 minutes on the bus to get to SS. The weather by the way was sunny and beautiful. (so simliar to a nice day in SB) Once we went over this hill I knew we were there. I completely recognized the city just from google mapping the hell out of it for months. It is everything I hoped it would be. The small streets, everyone on bikes, little pinxos shops, beautiful buildings, no fat people.. haha, jk. but really there isn't ANY. The architecture is so amazing and there are so many shops holy crap!! So Lordes, Hillary and I walked to my hostel and dropped of all my luggage and then headed to Lordes' house down the street, (so convenient) for a light dinner, Basque style. Lordes has the most awesome beautiful house right on the river and to get to her door you have to go up a glass elevator which is so small we were squished together. Her house was so clean and simple and I absolutely felt at home there. She made us, from scratch, zuppa de pescado as the first dish, then more fish cooked in olive oil with lemon, then for the last course we had a famous basque cheese with wine. We sat together and did our best to communicate with little to no english!! I don't know how I did it, but its true that if you use your hands a lot, you might get by. In those 2 hours I felt like i just passed spanish 101. Hillary is a pretty good speaker so I was in the dust most of the time but it felt so good to say something and to have Lordes understand me. I could tell that she liked me and that she was proud that I was at least trying. So after dinner and chatting, they walked me back to my hostel along the beach, and I remember hearing that this particular beach was very romantic at night. It is very true. There are huge white lanterns that are along the shore and every where you look there is a couple kissing. So now I'm going to bed but I cannot wait to wake up and walk around some more. I will post again soon of course!


I have finally made it to Madrid but I have yet to even go outside. Traveling can really wear u out! I am so tired right now but my body is so confused and it does not know if it should be hungry, tired....ahhh. I did my best to sleep on the plane but I kept waking up every time someone ran a bell to get a refill on their beverage. I did watch a movie though which definitely made the time pass much faster. I am was forced to check my carry-on bag in Philly which was a disappointment since I don't have any other clothes at the moment. hehe. I here Europeans don't mind a little musk so that is a relief. The airport in Madrid is very clean and beautiful and there are so many fashionable people everywhere. All the men where nice black suits and shiny shoes. I love it! No saggy pant butts around here! There weather outside looks cold and cloudy but still so foreign. I have 2 hours until my flight to San Sebastian, which is annoying because I really really want to get there. I am so excited to start this new life here and I can already tell that I am going to learn soooo much about getting around on my own. I had to talk to a lady who did not speak english and well... my spanish was not making any sense so we just kinda looked at each other haha God this is going to be hard. Well I am glad to be able to go online and blog but Nothing else that exciting has happened so I will blog again once I get to my hostel!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I can't sleep

I have a feeling this blog is going to help me through moments of extreme anxiety and excitement. I have already told everyone how excited I am, and I am sure that it is getting old, but this way I can vent with out any "i know...." facial expressions. :) I'm sitting here on my couch thinking of all the things that could possible go wrong or go really right. With me, both are equally possible. I think the hardest thing about getting ready to leave to another country is getting the whole money situation figured out. I started a charles schwab account to avoid atm and conversion fees while abroad, which is awesome, so anyone who reads this and is planning to travel abroad should do the same. You just have to open an brokerage and checking together but its really easy. Oh and I just found out that Philadelphia is getting attacked by two huge snow storms as I am typing this, and that is were my connecting flight is....lame. Sadly there is a chance that I might not be leaving at 8:45..Thank god I gave myself a couple of days before orientation. Cutting it pretty close though. My friend Hillary who I have met in Chico that is going to Study in SS too is going to be flying with me from Philly to Madrid so thats nice. At least I will have some company on the long flight. Haha even though I have packed some drowsy medicine to knock me out.  I can't stop thinking about me new mysterious foreign room mates and I also really wish I could find out where exactly I am going to be living. Is that too much to ask? Anyways I think that is enough for now. Hopefully I will be writing a new entry tomorrow at the airport and not still at my house. Snow snow go away come again another day....

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

just hours away!

So my name is Sara by the way, but I kind of wish my name was samars cause it's a bit more interesting. This is my first blog and I am very excited to document my travels abroad. The purpose of this blog is not just for others to enjoy, but for me! I want to look back at my fears and thoughts before, during and after my trip in San Sebastian, Spain. I will be living in San Sebastian for 5 months, studying spanish, Basque Cuisine, and culture. My flight is tomorrow at 9:45 am so the excitement is building! Until my next entry!!! See ya!