A typical day during the SPI Spain, San Sebastian program for me and my roommates began with our homestay Maria serving us our breakfast., almost always containing the extraordinary marmalade of Spain. Then, we would gather our notebooks and other belongings and make the short walk to school. Since the school was only two or three blocks away from our apartment, sometimes we would have enough time to drop in the cafe next door to Tandem and grab a quick cafe con leche. At school, we would briefly review known vocabulary or watch a cooking show and pick out the terms we had reviewed. On top of vocabulary, we also were taught many cultural distinctions of the area and regional slang and dialect that we might encounter on the streets of San Sebastian. After school, we would either return to our homestay to eat lunch, or we would carry our sack lunches to the beach and have a picnic on the beach. For the next couple of hours, we would either swim in the ocean or shop around town or hang out with our new friends. At around 4 o'clock we would meet as a whole program group in a park to gather before starting the afternoon activities. These included activities from surfing to climbing Monte Urgull or Monte Igueldo to cooking classes to tours of the city to excursions to surrounding communities--all of which were extremely fun and memorable. After our activities we would usually return to our apartments for dinners and showers. On Thursday nights, our homestay would take us to a local restaurant for Pintxo Pote, a night dedicated to price specials in our neighborhood (Gros) on an incredible cuisine of the Basque region--pintxos. After dinner, we would sometimes meet up with our classmates for a trip to a gelateria or pastry shop for dessert, and we would often spend time on the beach at night playing games and talking or strolling down the Boulevard and conversing with local teenagers about life in San Sebastian until our curfew--which, coinciding with Spanish culture, was considerably late--was drawing near. That night, our homestay would make sure we were comfortable and happy, ask about our day, and collect our laundry. Then, the cycle would start over, and the next exciting day would begin!
My favorite parts of the trip were not only the amazing sights we saw and activities that we did but also the experience and friends that will last a lifetime. Of course, I will always love the views from Monte Igueldo and the adrenaline rush from standing on a surfboard for the first time, but with help from SPI, I now have lifelong friends from across the country that I can count on and visit for years to come! My finesse as a Spanish speaker increased dramatically after my study abroad program. The lessons in school certainly nurtured my abilities, but everyday life in a rich culture developed my Spanish equally if not more. Simple, impromptu conversations with my homestay, my guides, or even the gelateria employees assisted in my full understanding and love of the Spanish language. Before my program, Spanish was just another class that I had to take in my packed high school curriculum, but now I see it as a living language and culture that is more interested than ever before. SPI has allowed me to see the true greatness of the Spanish language through my program in San Sebastian, and those three weeks in Spain are sure to maintain the title of my favorite trip for a very long time.