Ali Angel, SPI Study Abroad’s 2013 Summer Blog Contest winner, recounts her cultural excursion to Spain as part of SPI’s 2013 Biarritz, France language immersion program.

Ali-SPI-Biarritz        Today, the first full day of the weekend, we went on a little road trip…to SPAIN (specifically San Sebastian)! Now, I have always wanted to go all over Europe, but I had  never put much thought specifically into Spain. And BOY, was I surprised with what I found! We took a short 30 minute bus trip over, and on the way we passed through the vast, charming fields of green and grazing cows whom were probably sunbathing their spots on this fine, sunny day. I noticed the architecture began to look different than it did  in France. As we passed through the border, it became very industrialized and more city-like, but in other parts it was very quaint and farm-like. All of the houses and buildings  were beautiful with their slightly peeling white paint and bright blue, red, and green window shutters. Spain has its own personality and style, from its delicious aromas lingering in the air to its bright blue water that carries thousands of tiny, unique boats and sails. I dream of sailing into that blue ocean! It was so strange stepping into a place where they spoke a completely new language, when I had just been getting accustomed to French, which was foreign enough for me on its own! I felt myself trying to say “pardon” to get by people and “Merci” and “Bonjour” but instead I had to say “Hola” and “Gracias” which are probably my most spoken two words in my vast five word Spanish vocabulary.
        Everyone was in a great mood today, with the sun shining. This was all we had wanted for the past week! Seeing the sparkling beach of Spain taunted us — we wished we had brought our bathing suits! I heard fun fiesta music as I strolled through the cute market on the street with some girls, admiring the cute cloths, clothes, and decorations for sale. The most disappointing part was leaving early! I thought we would have all day to explore San Sebastian, but unfortunately we only had a bit of time to shop, walk around, take pictures of the ocean and explore a beautiful cathedral. Not a bad day compared to my friends and family at home who are probably reading this with envy, but it’s not enough to even get to know an ounce about Spain itself.
Ali-SPI-Biarritz       Another bit: I think I had the best ice cream I have ever had in my life. I got one scoop of choco mente (mint chocolate chip) on a cone but it should have been titled “heaven in your mouth” because it was the most flavorful, mouth-watering ice cream I have ever encountered. I WANT MORE! France, they have a thing for macaroons and pastry shops galore, and for Spain it seems to be ice cream! Yum! Safe to say I won’t be eager to hop into a bikini any time soon….
        After Spain, we went to a very cool palace in France owned by a mad scientist! Its architecture was different than any other palace I had been to or seen in France; he used ideas and his experiences from places where he traveled, like Ethiopia and all over the world, to decorate! He had statues of snails on his house! Pretty interesting, and of course I looked for more secret passageways. I was intrigued by the fact that he was a mad scientist, and I was hoping to find clues and evidence of past murders or experiments gone wrong, but alas, I was unsuccessful. Tonight will hopefully be like last night. The music festival in Biarritz is probably the best night there is, and probably was the best night I have ever had. Ever.
        Check out Ali’s winning blog, AdventuresauFrance, for more on her time in Biarritz.