Postcards from abroad: The four C’s I’ve learned while studying abroad in Spain

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The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, located in the middle of San Sebastian.

Hello UNLV! A few weeks ago, I flew from San Francisco to Spain. Over the course of many days in Madrid and almost three weeks in San Sebastian, I have learned a few things about the classes, culture, commute and cuisine that will be my life for the next semester.

Classes

My classes at the Universidad del País Vasco through USAC are a little brutal. I have Spanish classes Monday-Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:10 p.m., and Developing Effective Teaching Skills, which teaches you how to educate and allows you to meet students at a Spanish school once a week for an hour, and Basque Cuisine, a cooking class, on Wednesdays from 7:30 to 10 p.m. I also have a surfing class, but that does not start until April.

Playa de La Concha and the bay of San Sebastian. Pictured in the middle is the small island of Santa Clara.

All of these classes move very fast and require a lot of attention to stay ahead. I have a test every other week for the entire semester in my Spanish class. I hope to understand the language enough to speak it with peers by the end of the spring semester! 

Commuting

An important aspect of studying abroad that not many people talk about is trying to stay active. Gym plans and other places promoting activity are expensive, which isn’t great on a college student’s tiny budget. While many people in my USAC program have purchased gym plans, I’ve decided to start walking around the city to get my physical exercise. And let me just say, it’s been really good physically and mentally! Walking also allows me to explore the beautiful city of San Sebastian. I have been able to find really nice cafes and restaurants that I otherwise would never have known about.

As for public transportation around San Sebastian, you absolutely have to get the MUGI bus card to travel around the city via bus or train. Due to certain government incentives and deals with transportation companies, this card lowers the fare from €1.85 to €0.65, almost three times cheaper! This rechargeable card makes moving around the city so much easier.

A view of San Sebastian from the top of Monte Urgull at sunset.

The bus ride from my homestay apartment to the school is eight minutes, which really helps me get there on time because I am a chronic oversleeper. There’s a stop in front of my apartment and one right in front of the school, making taking the bus daily a no-brainer.

Cuisine and Culture

The food in San Sebastian is no joke; every place I have been to here has been delicious. However, Spain has a different eating schedule compared to the United States. For example, the biggest meal of the day is lunch, not dinner. They have a light breakfast (a pastry, coffee and toast), and their dinner is around the size of a typical lunch in the States. They also eat very late in the day. Lunch is at 3 p.m. at the earliest in most places, and dinner is at 9 p.m. at the earliest.

There are a lot of places for good food and drinks around San Sebastian, but the best places to eat are in the Gros district. However, you can’t go wrong with any place in the city. If you visit San Sebastian, I would recommend walking around the city and picking a place at random. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

The famous statues “Comb of the Wind”

Lastly, there is a tradition every Thursday called Pintxo Pote, which I would highly recommend participating in. It takes place in the Gros district. Restaurants and bars around the area offer cheap appetizers and drinks to encourage more business, and it’s a great way to meet local students. It is a fun tradition in San Sebastian that brings the community together and allows you to meet local people and make memories!

Conclusion

This short list is just a drop in the bucket of what I have learned while living in San Sebastian. I have enjoyed my time in Spain so far, and I cannot wait to make more memories and have more experiences that last me a lifetime! Until next time! Agur!

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