Study Abroad: Notes from Spain
Settling in Santander: Side Trips and Surfing
by Dani Schneider '09
Other than some bad weather, Santander couldn't be better. Things have calmed down a little bit with classes everyday and having a set schedule. After being in Spain for five weeks, I thought I might be a little homesick at this point, but it's quite the opposite. Not that I don't miss my family and friends, but living here in Spain is simply amazing.
I do, however, enjoy seeing little pieces of home here, like the books I found in my room this past week. I was looking through some of the books that are in my room when I found two books on North Carolina! One was titled "Our North Carolina" which highlighted all the major parts of the state, complete with beautiful pictures. I laughed out loud when I found the second book titled "2005 NCAA Champions." Even in Spain, I can't escape N.C. basketball. I doubt they call baby blue, azul de Carolina, here though. My madre said that they were books from previous students who stayed with her. Even though she can't read the books (since it was in English) she enjoyed the pictures.
Last weekend, I traveled to Salamanca with my ISA group. Home of Spain's oldest university, Salamanca was full of shopping, restaurants, and bars. My tour director, Carmen, is from Salamanca so she was the perfect person to show us around.
During the day, we toured the city and visited the university and old and new cathedrals. Both nights, we were in Salamanca there were live concerts in the Plaza Mayor, which is best seen at night when it is all lit up. I really enjoyed the college town atmosphere that was so rich with history at the same time. If I were to be so lucky to study abroad again in Spain, I think Salamanca would be a top choice.
Surfing in Somo
Wednesday after class, some of my friends and I took a boat across the bay to Somo where I had my first ever surfing lesson. Our instructor Nacho had his hands full with 13 girls surfing for the first time. We had so much fun that we can't wait to go back again sometime next week.
After using my surfboard as a glorified boogie board, I finally was able to stand up. As the afternoon progressed, the waves got bigger and bigger and by the end of the lesson I think I swallowed about a gallon of salt water. I was so worn out afterwards that I ate dinner and went right to bed.
Fiesta at the Beach
This past week was also the fiesta of "Baños de Ola" in Santander. Every day at the beach, there was some kind of activity going on. People were modeling in old time bathing suits and the beach was lined with ice cream and churros stands. On Saturday night, the festival ended with fireworks on the beach and the burning of the "Olas de Baño" statue that sat on the boardwalk all week long.
Classes and Plans
Classes are still going well. One of the best things about learning Spanish in Spain is being able to use what you learn in class right away. I especially enjoy noticing things in the street that we talk about in my culture class. A lot of times, we start class off by talking about things that we've noticed in the streets, like why if the bus is empty will a person sit right next to you. After spending so much time here, I have enjoyed noticing the mannerisms.
With only one week left to go, I have plans to visit the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and San Sabastian this weekend and next week we are also going to a bullfight here in Santander for the Fiesta of Santiago.
Dani welcomes e-mail correspondence from current and prospective members of Catawba's community and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.