Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Surfer from Iowa

Hello loved ones,

It's been a few days. I think it's about time I post a new entry. I'd hate for you to think I've been up to absolutely nothing! The truth is, I've been quite busy. Ever since I've meet all the students in my program and started classes, my schedule has gotten much more packed-in the best way. As it has been awhile, I will not attempt to summarize all that I've been doing, but pick out some of the highlights instead. Let's see...

The first night I got here my host parents took me out for pintxos (tapas) and drinks. We went to like three different restaurants so they could show me around our city in the process, and let me tell you: this place is phenomenal. Just four blocks from my house is a the incredible Getxo coastline, it is lined with gorgeous green bluffs (most with their own hiking/biking trails) and tons of beautiful beaches down below.

Allow me to offer some insight about the heaven pictured above. Those photos were taken in Algorta, a neighborhood of the city where my apartment is: Algorta. However, my university is in Bilbao, a slightly larger city about 15 minutes inland by car. Bilbao is known as the wealthiest city in Spain and the 3rd safest city in Europe. The Nervón River cuts it down the middle into a old and new side, the river flows into the Bay of Biscay (pictured above). Bilbao was a lower-middle class industrial city until 1975 when Franco's regime fell. When democracy began to spread throughout Spain, the city began its rather quick transition into a financial center and conglomerate of world renowned architecture. The director of our program showed us this video, I think it tells the story pretty well. 

Thankfully we also started class last week as this girl was itching to do some learning. Our program directors and faculty have been amazing so far. They have been accommodating in every way. My professors are kind and patient, but also run a tight ship. Tardiness is not accepted and there is quite a workload for each of my classes. I appreciate this as I am here to be challenge and to grow. At least once a week our faculty members take us on some kind of cultural visit. After our second day of orientation we walked around the financial district of Bilbao and also saw the regenerated area of the city where the Guggenheim now is. 

I've also started surfing! I'm able to go as much as I'd like under mid-October when surf season ends and believe me, I'm taking full advantage of it. I've been like five times in the last week, and I still want more. It's such an awesome hobby. I've learned so much about the ocean and how to work with it, as well as the limits and positioning of my own body. Surfing was actually introduced to Europe in Gexto during the 60s so theres a pretty intense surfing culture. My instructor has been so effective. Most lessons I get one on one attention and very close to it. I was standing on my board after 1 lesson! This guy is good. Best part of all? There are NO sizable sharks here, they are like 2 feet tops. Phew. Best, best part of all? I have an excuse to hang out here five days a week:

My Spanish is coming along quite quickly as my host parents do not speak english. I can't wait to see how much I can learn over the next 3 months. The possibilities are exciting. I am learning, I am understanding, and I am truly, truly happy here. That's all we can ask, right?

More later, thats all for now!


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