Zach Orig attended SPI’s Santander, Spain Summer 2 session in summer 2015. To read more about Zach’s adventures during his time in Santander, check out his blog, Zach Orig Abroad.

¿Hablas Español?

We arrived at la Universidad de Cantabria International Campus to meet our homestay on Sunday night. Curious and sort of nervous, my roommate and I both wondered who our homestay parent would be for the next 2 weeks.

As we heard several names being called, we finally had ours called and met our homestay mother: Pilar! With typical Spanish greeting, we exchanged kisses on the cheek and were on our way to our home for the next 2 weeks!

Nuestra casa is a beautiful quaint home situated close to several hotels and a casino right next to the Sardinero beach. As we later found out, we are most likely the farthest ones from school (28 minute walk) but the closest ones to the beach (3 min walk)! It’s a trade-off I’m willing to accept! My favorite beach is definitely la playa del Camello for its unique rock formations right off the shore.

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Starting Monday, we began class with a placement test. Following a lot of writing in Spanish and an oral conversation, we were released for an hour. We decided to go across the street to a beautiful seating area with a great view of the mountains across the bay. While we were there, we introduced ourselves to the Summer Month students that had already been in Santander for 2 weeks prior. Following a few more hours of class after break, we headed home to eat lunch with Pilar. En España, usually, kids will head home following morning classes to eat lunch and take a nap until they have to head back to school for a few more hours of afternoon class. Fortunately, we didn’t have afternoon class. Instead, we met in the town square (ayuntamiento) of Santander and explored the city with the Summer Month students. I couldn’t help but bring my film camera to catch some stunning shots of the beautiful city that Santander truly is!

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The rest of the week followed a similar schedule. We woke up around 7:30-8, ate breakfast, and then walked to school. After our classes, we would head back home to eat lunch/take a nap, then head to our afternoon activity with the group. On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to surf for the first time! On Wednesday, we toured a maritime museum/aquarium and went shopping! On Thursday, we went zip-lining in a beautiful forest not too far from my homestay! On Friday, we toured a Conserva Emilia, a fish manufacturing plant that’s considerably important in the economy of Cantabria. Then, we toured centuries-old forts in a city not too far from Santander!

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All in all, we kept busy all week. There was never a moment when I found myself bored. In between classes during our breaks, we played cards or ordered a small sandwich (bocadillo, en español) or pastry! At night, I often went on runs or took the bus to get some ice cream with others in my group!

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I have been having so much fun in this city. I see it as my second home. The people are amazing, the scenery is stunning, and my Spanish is improving at an exponential rate. Our homestay mother speaks ZERO English – what better way to improve Spanish than having a temporary Spanish mom, who by the way is an AMAZING cook? I can’t wait to see how this second week goes. I never want to leave. My eyes have been filled with wonder, from the beautiful beaches we see on our walk to school to the fantastic night runs through Santander. I surfed for the first time ever in my life and even stood up. I went zip-lining in the rain while hanging on for dear life. I struggled eating a huge scoop of ice cream off a cone late at night, and I’ve shared all of these moments with people I have already gotten so close to. I am enjoying every second of my time here. How can it get any better?

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