Katrina Killian is a student at the University of Pittsburgh and an ISA Featured Blogger. Katrina is currently studying abroad in Santander, Spain on the ISA Summer 2 program.
Wow, has a week really gone by already? Technically it’s been a week and 3 days since the program has begun, but I’m going by our arrival in Santander. This day last week I was racked with nerves and excitement. I was excited to arrive in my destination city along the beach and improve my Spanish all while being nervous for meeting my host family and beginning classes. Would my whole family come to pick me up? What do they look like? Can I understand their accents? Will my teacher be hard? Lots of homework/tests?… The questions seemed endless in my head.
Luckily all of those nerves had positive results. My host family has been great, as well as my roommate. They talk fairly slowly and reiterate anything we don’t understand; we’re able to have 1-2 hour conversations at dinner every night. There’s even a cute little guinea pig named Kobe. It reminds me of the ones I used to have every time he goes ‘eeepp!’ My classes and teacher also turned out great. I got placed into a level higher than what I thought I’d be, so I was nervous about any grammar requirements needed to enter that level. My teacher reassured me that I’m fine and we go over the grammar I don’t know and he wants us to practice our speaking more than grammar anyway. He’s one of the best teachers I’ve had because he doesn’t just lecture– he plays music, has us do games and activities, plays music during exercises. I feel like I’ll learn a lot and I’ll stay engaged, which is good! My culture class is fine too, but slightly boring… I feel like it’ll pick up this week though.
Besides academics, our first week had a whole mess of activities to show us this area of Spain. We’ve gone to some beaches, saw a local palace, went on a tour of Santander, vistied the Picos de Europa and Potes. They all were fun and brought our small group even closer. Our directors call us “The Seven Wonders (of the World).” A kid in our group has grandparents that live along a beach 20 min by ferry from Santander. It’s a beautiful beach located in Somo and we were able to celebrate the fourth of July with an all-American feast of hotdogs, hamburgers, potato salad, brownies and ice cream, and other stuff… so delicious! We also signed up for a surf lesson that day too; it was super fun and we all managed to not get crushed by the waves!
In our free time we like to spend time together as a group, which is excellent. When it’s nice out, we all rush to the beach to take it all in. Those days/ hours are cherished here. Why? The north of Spain has lots of beautiful coasts and mountains, but it also rains mucho! Luckily, when it does rain, it’s normally just for a few minutes to an hour at a time, then maybe returns later, but it is fairly cloudy. Don’t let that turn you off though! It’s so nice here, and we’ve managed to have great weather so far; the locals says its normally not as cold or cloudy this tie of year and that it should warm up soon. When it does rain, we are able to go to the town center for shopping and small site seeing, which is nice as well! It’s better than all that dry heat in the south, I would be a leather couch by now!
As of right now, we are trying to figure out what we want to do with our free weekend. It’s a toss up (currently) of Barcelona or Andorra I believe. I’m fine with either! We’ll just have to wait and see.