Hello everyone! I had intentions of starting my blog process a few weeks ago. In between school, work, teaching, and other adventures it fell to the way side.
I have been here in the Basque Country for a month. It is crazy how time flies – see that’s why I have forgotten to write about my experience.
I started classes at a premium private university in the Basque Country, University of Deusto, three weeks ago. The university has two different programs for international students – the Language and Culture Program, as well as, the Business Spanish and International Relations Program. I am in the Business Spanish program. I am taking a course overload compared to the amount of credit hours taken at my home university. I am taking six classes, worth 20 credits in total. I thought I came to Spain to explore and slow down my life style. I guess not, haha.
I am taking a set of four Spanish language classes, which includes a class on Composition, Conversation, Grammar, and Business in Spain. Additionally, I am taking a class on Spanish Society, Culture and Economics in the Basque Country. I have an internship here as well with an autonomous government. You may be asking yourself “What the heck is an autonomous government?” The Basque Country is divided into 17 autonomous governments that each have their own laws. I work for 1 of the 17 autonomous governments. It is very similar to a county or city government. As if I wasn’t already busy enough, I tutor two local families’ teenagers in English.
I am still finding the appropriate balance between all my obligations and free time. Check back in with me soon to see how I am progressing.
I thought I could never make an 8AM class until I got to Spain. My friends back home can say that I never got up until 9:30. My typical schedule during the school week, which is Monday-Thursday consists of waking up around 6 in the morning, eating breakfast, and then starting my day all cylinders burning. Usually, every morning I grab a piece of fruit and some yogurt. Running to the metro for my 30 minute commute to school, I finish breakfast. Like I said earlier I am very occupied with my time here. If you add up all the hours of my obligations here, I am “working” 32 hours in four days.
You’re probably like “How do you find time to complete extracurricular activities,” I am glad to say that my weekends are free just like most Spaniards here in Spain. Every weekend I go out with a local family to spectacular sites in Bilbao and get a first hand immersion into the culture. Additionally, I hike twice a month with a campus group (Galdueziñak), literally translated into a group that climbs mountains. My first outing with the group was to a festival on top of Sierra de Sasiburu a windy, wet, green mountain. We didn’t make it to the summit because the conditions were too bad. But, at least I got a photograph.
I feel like my culture shock has taken awhile to overcome. It has been very difficult for me to communicate and adjust to the lifestyle. I would say the biggest culture shock and biggest source of frustration that I have experienced is struggling to understand and be understood. Having taken Spanish for more years that I can count, I came here expecting that I would be able to easily communicate with people and say what I wanted to say. However, language is so much more complicated here, especially coming from the United States.
Over the past month I have been able to experience Bilbao, surrounding communities, and other countries. For example, I went to Donostia / San Sebastián on a whim for (San Sebastián Day) and that was pretty amazing. I forgot my ear plugs though! Participants take over the streets and drum for 24 hours straight.
I was also able to hike to a breathtaking church on Gaztelugatxe. The hike is called San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in the Basque Country. Take yourself back to primary school real quick and say the tongue-twister “San Juan de Gaztelugatxe” three times fast.
Last week I went to the southern part of France with about fifty students in my program. We were greeted with the wonderful weather of rain, hail, and sun. In Europe, especially during winter in France, the weather is often unpredictable.
Until next time ask questions and wait patiently until your favorite redhead can reach a computer.
Thanks for reading