Saludos desde San Sebastian, España!
Let’s take a minute to say that even though I arrived here more than a month ago, I still had to Google Translate that sentence.
If anybody is as bewildered by Spanish as I am, that means “Greetings from San Sebastian, Spain!” Clearly, I am experiencing an extreme case of culture shock.
I arrived in Madrid, Spain on Aug. 27 and was welcomed by intense jet lag. My travel partner, journalism junior Emily Kucera, and I really took advantage of the whole “siesta” system and took approximately five-hour naps a day.
By the time Emily and I finally found the strength to leave our hostel beds, it dawned on us that Spain is made for people our age. The epitome of the culture can be laid out in three words: drinking, eating and sleeping. Obviously, we’ve been taking advantage of this step-by-step program.
Step one of that sequence of events is likely the reason why disaster struck the next day when we had to take a bus from Madrid to San Sebastian.
Everything that morning started off smoothly. Miraculously, we made it to our bus with all of our bags and were on our way. But, of course, something had to go wrong; it was too easy.
Approximately two hours away by bus from San Sebastian is a small town by the name of Vitoria-Gasteiz. As the bus came to a halt in this random city, I decided to grab some water because I felt like I was convulsing in my seat from lack of hydration.
Little did I know, buses stop for a maximum of five minutes and then speed away right on schedule — this time was no different.
The next part of this story could have been funny if I wasn’t on the verge of a panic attack.
Please keep in mind that I am not only horrible at Spanish, but I’m also horrible at directions and figuring out where I should go. So at the time, no, this was not funny.
I ended up getting help from a man who spoke a little English and arrived safely in San Sebastian just a few hours behind schedule.
Even though I had to wait two hours in a sketchy bus station for the next bus while a little boy repeatedly ran up to me and kept asking if he could have my iPod, I couldn’t be more grateful for his help.
Despite the rocky start, I can’t even begin to describe how incredible this city is and how I couldn’t be happier that I decided to make this journey.
My apartment is on the beach; I open up my window every morning and can see the ocean for days.
In an attempt to avoid the “abroad 15” (similar to the “freshman 15”), I run along that very ocean every morning. When I’m not hacking up a lung from the smokers that line the streets, it is absolutely the most amazing way to start the day.
Running every day also makes me feel a little less guilty for the amount of delicious food that is consumed throughout the week. Did I mention that San Sebastian is pretty much the food capital of the world?
Every Thursday, an event is held known as pintxo-pote. This means that every bar sells a pintxo (also known as a tapa or appetizer) and a beer for only two euros, a semi-religious experience for my friends and I — especially because the culture revolves around the consumption of food and how much everybody values and appreciates it.
For example, the other day my Spanish teacher noticed that we all looked exhausted, so we spent three and a half hours looking at pictures of different pintxos to get next Thursday night.
Cheers to being in track one of Spanish.
Another interesting attraction that San Sebastian has to offer is the cider houses. Not only do you get a three-course meal, but you also get unlimited cider from huge barrels containing approximately 20,000 liters.
Although I’m not the biggest fan of cider, my poor college self has really gained an appreciation for the word “unlimited.”
So far, Europe feels like a completely different world from what I’m used to and I can’t wait to experience everything else it has to offer. Oktoberfest, I’m ready for you.
Sam Gilbert is a journalism junior and Mustang News study abroad columnist.