viernes, 28 de abril de 2017

Day 11: Diputación and Casco Viejo (Bilbao)

By Alex and Thomas
To start the day, we all went to our students’ classes. Following a small breakfast with my family, we walked across the bustling street to the school. I had a Basque class in which I knew little about, but the teacher showed us a short video in English on the basics of Euskera grammar…. I still struggled to understand it.
After that first hour, we took the metro into downtown Bilbao, where we were given twenty minutes to get a drink or other refreshments. Me and two others went to the nearest cafe to get the notorious “Cafe con leche” as we were all still half asleep. We were later given a guided tour of the old town hall (Diputación). This tour was full of interesting rooms and facts that left us ever more amazed by the country's rich history and culture. Specifically, there was a room dedicated solely to individuals that made a significant social impact. At the end of the tour, everyone was given a cultural headpiece signifying relationship status. Most of us put them on and took selfies with each other and the one and only Carlos.
Following the tour, we were given an hour and a half to walk around the city and shop. The city was full of stores and centers to buy things from clothing to an ice cream. I found it fascinating to see advertisements in languages other than English, living in a different city was definitely something that had helped in broadening my horizons and goals. To finish our time in Bilbao as well with our weekly schedule, we went on a guided tour of Casco Viejo, which is the Older district of Bilbao. The stores and apartments that we saw were older than the United States and was full of culture and diversity. The guide was really good in telling us about the significance of each location and why they were esteemed destinations.

Day 11 Diputación and Casco Viejo (Bilbao) de J. Carlos Martínez
After a quick train ride, we arrived back in Algorta around mid-afternoon. Everybody shuffled off the train; following the teacher's out of the station and back to the school, we were greeted by our exchange partners. After quick conversations, everybody said goodbye to each other and went back to the houses of each Spanish student. After all, we had to rest up for a big party we were throwing later that night! Every student was given the chance to do whatever they wanted in the time before the party; some chose to chat with others, some chose to relax and watch TV or a movie, but most students chose to take a nap, or siesta, so that they would be awake and energized during the party. Meanwhile, instead of relaxing and resting up for the rest of the night, my Spanish student and I decided to play​ a few matches of ping pong which quickly turned to many; leaving us with no time to sleep.

After some time, most of the students met up and made their way to the function hall, a small, but quite nice and clean, place which was rented out by the Spanish students for a single night for a certain period of time. Each student brought their own refreshments and food; some prepared the location for the party, making sandwiches, pouring drinks, setting up furniture, anything to make the time more enjoyable for everyone. Finally, after great preparation, and the arrival of any stragglers, the party began! People joked and people laughed. People danced as a mixed playlist of Spanish and American music was blasted through the speakers. And after many exciting hours, the party began to die down and one by one students left to go home so that they could sleep and feel rested for the few remaining​ days we had left in such a beautiful country​.

jueves, 27 de abril de 2017

Day 10: San Juan de Luz and San Sebastián / Donosti

Alaina Roman and Christine (Teenie) MacCune 

After meeting at the school at 8:15, we got on the bus around 8:30. From there we had a two hour bus ride to San Juan de Luz. That was a very cute coastal town in France. We had about two hours to shop while we were there. Most people slept on the ride there. Once in France, we had about two hours of free time in San Juan de Luz. It was pretty costal town with tons of shopping options. The weather was a little cold and windy, but beautiful and sunny. Being in this town was different from our other days because we were surrounded by French speakers. At about 12:30, we got back on the bus for a half hour ride to San Sebastián. We were dropped off near a bridge and had to walk a little ways to the Aquarium. The first section of the aquarium had marine artifacts, model boats and lots of information about the history of the area. Then we got to see all kinds of fish as well as jelly fish, lobsters, sea horses, sting rays, sharks, star fish and other marine life.

After spending some time in the aquarium we were given some free time to walk around the cute town of San Sebastián. We were given until 4:20 to roam around this town and explore some of the restaurants and shops. This was a great opportunity to look at the classic Spanish architecture and take many pretty pictures. It was also really nice to walk around by the water, the port reminded me of Scituate because it was also fishing based. After walking around we meant up and went on the bus and took a quick ride to a place near the water to see these really cool sculptures in the rocks on the cliffs. They were rusted metals large sculptures. The coolest part of this stop were the holes on the ground that would blow up large gusts of wind when the waves would crash. After spending 30 minutes here, we got back onto the bus and drove up the mountain. Here we could see the whole town and the beach. It was breathe taking to be able to see this amazing city from up above. After spending 20 minutes here taking pictures, we headed back to the bus to go back to Gexto to meet up with our Spanish partners.

Once we got back to Gexto the majority of us walked to the water and got ice cream as a group. Knowing that we only have a few days left in Spain, we have been trying to spend as much time together as possible. After eating our ice cream we went to El Puente Colgante of Las Arenas. It is one of the most famous landmarks in Gexto. I have never seen anything like it before and it was especially beautiful with the sunsetting right next to the bridge and in the water. After this, some of us went to have dinner together as well, not wanting this beautiful day to end. After a fun filled day, all of us were tried and ready to get some sleep for our last two days in Spain! 

miércoles, 26 de abril de 2017

Day 9: Gernika: 80th Anniversary

Gretchen and Izzie

      This morning we went to school and attended a Basque lesson. We learned about the Basque culture and the origin of the language.

      We then took a bus to Gernika and went to the Peace Museum.
Today is the 80th anniversary of the bombing in Gernika by Adolf Hitler. The museum was created after the attack to spread a message of peace instead of revenge.

      After the museum we went to walk to see the Oak Tree that survived the attack. It was a very moving and reflective experience. It was a very rainy day so, after that, we went back on the bus and went to see the ancient caves.
      We learned they were excavated so that we could see them. Then, we drove by a well known surfing beach town called Mundaka.

      We didn't stay too long; we then went to visit Bermeo to explore for ourselves. The town had a beautiful harbor with lots of boats and colorful buildings. Unfortunately, most of the shops were closed because it was siesta hour, but we explored the small town and had café!
      Lastly, we stopped at a spot on the side of a mountain that had a beautiful view of the ocean before arriving back home.

Overall, even though it rained today, it was cool to see the culture in the different towns.

martes, 25 de abril de 2017

Day 8 -Town Halls, Boat Trip and Guggenheim Museum

Erin and Julianne
Today we started the day early, and got to the school at 8:00 am. After a week of beautiful weather, the rain finally came and the temperature dropped to around 50 degrees Celsius. We rushed to the town hall from the school bundled up in our rain jackets and umbrellas, and sat in a huge conference room with what we thought was the mayor. I felt accomplished while listening to her speak to us about Getxo and its history, because I realized that I have definitely improved in understanding what is said by a native Spanish speaker.

After, we took the Metro to the town hall of Bilbao, which was much more elaborate. We walked around the different rooms, and it amazed me how detailed every piece of art and architecture was throughout the building. The whole time I was wondering how long it must've taken to think of and create such intricate designs. Seeing the town halls of both Getxo and Bilbao was very interesting, especially because we had a new obstacle in our way. Watching Chris getting wheeled around in a wheelchair after dislocating his toe was by far the main thing that caught my attention throughout the tours. It started pouring rain halfway through the day, but thankfully our next activity was inside. We got a guided tour on the river in a boat, and saw all around the city. It was extremely relaxing and really fun to enjoy the beautiful scenery while learning more about Bilbao.

After the boat ride, we got to go to the Guggenheim. We explored a lot of abstract pieces, and got to learn a lot about each artist, and the history and importance of the museum itself, as well as the other 2 Guggenheim museums. It was an amazing experience. Our tour guide made us feel very connected, and look deeper into artwork that may not be immediately striking, but encouraged us to look beyond the initial viewing. The art was also very interactive, and really made me feel more in touch with what the artists were trying to convey, which can be lost in
older art pieces.

Afterwards, we took the metro back to Getxo to spend time with our families, and decided to go to what they described as a very small mall with the entire group. From the outside, it did look very small. However, on the inside, I realized that it was bigger than most malls I've been to at home in the United States. It was interesting to experience shopping in an atmosphere that is both similar and different to what I've experienced before. In this mall, there were a lot less places to eat, and also no stores in the middle of the mall. Instead, it had even more shops, ones that were pretty high end that I wouldn't expect to see in a mall. and even a grocery store! It was very different than I expected going in, but it was very cool to see and get to experience.

We finally returned home around 9 pm, and my host mom started cooking dinner while we watched TV and were able to relax and unwind. It's nice to spend so much time together as a family, especially in one that is much bigger than my own family at home, and very fun with the amount of conversation and playfulness. Overall, although very long, the day gave a lot of very new fun experiences and allowed for us to connect with parts of the Spanish culture that aren't obvious at first.

lunes, 24 de abril de 2017

Day 7: The Principal's Welcome and The Museum of Fine Arts in Bilbao

by Ashley Smalley and Genna Goodman

The first thing we did today was arrive at the high school. The headmaster of the school told us how high schools work in Spain and what type of classes they offer. Then he told us about the man the school is named after, Julio Caro Baroja. It was very interesting and I was happy that I understood most of what he was saying since he told us in Spanish. The headmaster also showed us the difference between Spanish and Basque. I learned that Basque has no known origin and that Spanish is Latin based. Then we went to our students second class. I went to economy class. My student takes all of her classes in Basque, so I didn't understand what was being said, but it was cool to hear Basque being spoken. 

            After class we left our students at school and took the Metro to the Fine Arts Museum of Bilbao. We saw traditional Basque paintings and other famous paintings by el Greco, Renoir and Monet. It was cool to see an el Greco painting in person since we learned about his work in Spanish class. I also love art and loved seeing the paintings by Monet. We had a great tour guide who was explained the painting to us in more depth. Then we had our lunches in a park in Bilbao. 
           Once we finished our lunches, we had an hour and a half to shop. There were many clothing stores where we were. It was fun to shop there because most of the stores are not located in America. I got a few cute things. The stores here are really nice because the prices are often lower than they are in America. I had a great time today shopping with my friends. 
          Tonight we went walking on a nice path in Bilbao and there was a beautiful view. I took lots of pictures. Then we went to a cafe for crepes. I got a chocolate crepe, it was delicious. We sat and talked at the cafe for a long time having fun. Then we walked back home and had dinner with our families.

domingo, 23 de abril de 2017

Day 6: Life in Getxo (2)

By  JC Bilyou and Corey Kelleher 
Well today was a pretty good day. The morning was light with a light breakfast of a few cakes that look and taste a little bit like corn bread and toast and we were then out the door.
We all got in our car, mom, dad, sister, me, my exchange partner, and even the dog. We drove out to a little town of Orduña and toured in the streets. We didn't have to be with other students because we had this time to spend with our families, so my family went on a hike.

The hike was in the mountains overlooking the town we had visited. There were a few land marks but the two most interesting ones were the ancient monastery ruins, and the tallest water fall in Spain (even if it was dry). The cliffs for the falls were pretty high, even I, who is not afraid of heights, was not feeling to good after it.
After our adventure we came home and had a nice dinner of chicken, ham, and bread. 

Corey Kelleher 
On Sunday everyone slept in very late and it's generally a very relaxed day. After getting ready Ane and her sister took me for a walk around their town to one of the cliffs and the view was so pretty and the weather was perfect. Then I met some of her extended family and I was a little nervous to meet them because I wanted to speak well because they only spoke Spanish but I was relieved because they said I spoke very well.

We ate lunch very late and I had homemade paella for the first time. I didn't expect to like it that much because I don't typically like seafood but I loved it so much. So far every new food that I have tried I have really liked. Also during lunch my family and I had a ton of different conversations about the United States and Spain and it was really cool to be able to talk to them in another language and have them understand me because the parents don't speak any English. I feel like I'm getting used to hearing it all the time and I'm starting understanding more and I have realized that speaking Spanish in a classroom is completely different from speaking with a native speaker.