A visual trip through the best two weeks of my life…because a picture is worth a thousand words and I couldn’t find the right ones to describe my expectation-exceeding trip with SPI Study Abroad to San Sebastián, España.
This is a wonderful photo of my favorite program director, John Foster, leading us through the busy streets of Madrid, taken just before we entered Puerta Del Sol and observed Kilometro Zero. I like this photo because it captures the moments where we first experienced the signature John Foster catchphrase (“Cuidado chicos! Hay coche!”) that was said whenever a car approached the group: something I was very grateful for at the time in my extremely jet-lagged state.
This photo is probably one of my favorite photos from the trip. Here, my roommate Leah and I are posing before the aqueduct of Segovia, something I learned about way back in school when I was 12 years old. I was in awe when I saw the incredible structure that I had only been able to imagine previously to this trip. Also, I was so happy because my roommate and I had clicked right off the bat — it was one day in and we were already so close. So, serious props to SPI for their roommate pairing because we were so alike and understood each other so well from the beginning of the experience.
On our first full day in San Sebastián, Leah and I spent the evening getting to know our homestay sister, Anna. Anna was a teenager just like us, around the same age as us. We loved Anna so much and she felt like a real sister to us by the end of the trip. I’m still in touch with her to this day. This is Leah and Anna outside our homestay on that first evening!
On our second day after school, we spent the day on Zurriola beach. But, then an infamous San Sebastián galerna swept in so we decided to check out the old town and look at La Concha beach (which we had heard so much about but only glimpsed). Once there, we took a photo with our new friends in front of the bay as the storm swept in.
After our second day of school and new classes, the group walked from the Kursaal all the way down the Boulevard, around La Concha, and then stopped to rest on the hill in front of Miramar Palace. The view of La Bahía de La Concha, el Monte Igueldo, el Monte Urgull and la Isla Santa Clara were incredible. We took this photo on the hill before taking the funicular up to the top of Monte Igueldo, where we could see the entire city of San Sebastián.
This day was spent opting out of the set-up activities (such as surfing or cooking class) and instead exploring the city and sightseeing, while making sure to take lots of photos.
This Friday was spent on La Concha in the sun and swimming out to the floating docks in the bay. Which, in retrospect, was not a good idea since we had to then climb to the top of Monte Urgull (which is a very steep climb). The view was almost worth it, but the artsy pictures definitely made it worth the trek.
Today, we visited Biarritz in France and it was gorgeous! It was super cool to not only spend the 4th of July in one foreign country, but two!
Since it was Sunday, we had the whole day to ourselves. So, after sleeping in and having brunch with our homestay, Leah and I took the bus into town to meet up with our friends. It was a pretty cloudy and windy day, so we decided swimming was not something we wanted to do. Instead, we browsed through cafes all over the town. Then, when we felt tired and lazy from all the walking, we grabbed some towels and headed down to the beach. We put all the towels together into a gigantic beach blanket and just all sat together and talked for hours. This is when I realized that the people I had met had become such close friends to me.
After school, we took an excursion to the nearby town of Zumaia. My friends and I opted to go on a hike instead of spending the entire time at the beach. The hike was definitely better than the beach would have been. We got to stand on the edge of a cliff with outstanding views and then go down to a kind of beach quarry and swim. It was amazing.
This photo is from right before my first-ever surf lesson! The surfboard was like double my size and I really struggled with carrying it. I dove into the waves, excited to try it out, only to realize that the waves were gigantic and that my limited surfing abilities would not do well. After many wipe outs and a lot of saltwater in my eyes and nose, I managed to stand up for the whole ride!!!
This has to be my favorite photo that I’ve taken on the trip. After an excursion to Pasajes de San Juan, my friends and I decided to head down to Zurriola and watch the sunset. Suddenly, the sun broke through the clouds, creating beautiful beams of light on the ocean, and my friend Adam was standing in the perfect place for me to catch his silhouette in front of the picturesque scene.
The second-to-last day in San Sebastián was spent in the water and on the beach 🙂
This graceful photo was taken on Isla Santa Clara during the photo scavenger hunt on the last day in San Sebastián.
This is the “Spain Squad” last photo. This was taken the morning in San Sebastián before the bus with the Summer Two students left, and the Immersion Extension kids were left behind — a very tough goodbye.
This was my very emotional goodbye to my roommate, Leah, in Madrid. We both cried because after spending roughly 20 hours a day together for 15 days, we had such a hard time thinking of being apart. We became so close after connecting on that first day, and we were so alike and so happy to have found each other. I miss her a lot but we hope to visit each other soon.
About the Author: Annie Sullivan-Crowley studied abroad with SPI in San Sebastian, Spain in 2015.