As of today, I have been living in Spain for three months, which is approximately 1/3 of my exchange year. November has been a very interesting month to say the least. It was filled with lots of emotions and feelings such as happiness, loneliness, homesickness, curiosity, excitement, and many more. One of the things that the outbound students were told during the orientations in Minnesota was that exchange would be very emotional, but I don't think anyone truly realized how emotionally challenging it would be. There have been days in which I would've given anything to be back in Minnesota with my family, but most of the time, I never want to leave Spain. I realize that my previous posts have made it seem like my exchange has been all fun and happiness with no challenges or bad days, but that's not true. Every exchange has its ups and downs but it's harder to write about and tell others about the parts that aren't as good.
Since I have three host families this year, I change host families every trimester. On November 28th, I changed to my second host family who live in Mendebaldea, which is a neighborhood of Pamplona. In my new host family, I have three siblings, but one is on exchange in Germany. Their names are Eduardo (13), Jacobo (17), and Alfonso (19). Even though I've only been with my new family for about 4.5 days, I love spending time with them and am really excited to spend the next three months with them.
I visited the Caves of Zugarramurdi with my first host dad and explored them for a while. Then, we went to another cave system, but the tickets were completely sold out for the day. After we realized that we weren't going to be able to visit the 2nd caves, we drove to a small French town called Sare, which is very close to the Spain-France border. It was a very small town, but now I can say that I've visited France! We also stopped and visited Castillo de Maya (Maya Castle).
My third host family and I went to a city called Logroño, which is about an hour away from Pamplona to visit the Rotary club of Logroño. First, we went to a museum called Museo Würth, which is a modern art musuem, located just outside of Logroño. Once we had seen the whole museum, we returned to Logroño and walked along Calle Laurel, which is famous for the pintxos. The street is a little more than 650 feet long and has over 65 bars and restaurants, which all offer different pintxos. In other cities, the custom is that each bar offers many types of pintxos, but the bars on Calle Laurel only offer one or two specialties. After walking along the street for a while and trying different pintxos, we headed to a Rotary lunch that was hosted by the Rotary club of Logroño. There wasn't very many people at the lunch, but Clare, the Rotary exchange student who is living in Logroño, was there. We all ate lunch, then Clare and I went out to explore the city. When it got dark, we headed back to her house, where all the adults were, and hung out for a bit before I had to leave and return to Pamplona. I had already made plans to hangout that night with Antonio and Valentine (other exchange students in Pamplona), so I had to leave earlier than I wanted to. However, 10 minutes before we were going to leave, the president of the Logroño Rotary club asked if Clare wanted to come with us and then return to Logroño the next day on a bus. It was completely out of the blue, but somehow it all worked out and Clare returned with us to Pamplona. My third host mom dropped Clare and I off in Pamplona so that we could go find Antonio and Valentine, who didn't know that Clare was coming with. Clare and I met up with Antonio and Valentine, then we all wandered the streets of the city until we got tired and returned to my third host family's house in Zuasti.
Clare and I woke up early because she had to catch a bus at 10am to return to Logroño. We got ready, then dropped her off at the bus station. After dropping Clare off at the bus station, my third host family and I visited an old castle called Castillo de Tiebas, then went for a hike. I'm not sure of the exact distance, but I think we hiked approximately 6 miles. Afterwards, we returned to their house, ate lunch and then watched a movie. I was so tired that I ended up falling asleep on the couch during the movie!
Today all the exchange students in Pamplona, and Clare, went on a day trip with my third host family. My third host dad is the person in charge of youth exchange in Pamplona, so he's been organizing and taking us on bunch of day trips. The original plan was to go hiking, but the mountains were very muddy and no one was prepared for it. Instead we went to Parque-Museo Santxotena, which is an outdoor art museum with sculptures by the sculptor Xabier Santxotena. I really liked the museum because the sculptures were very cool and you were allowed to touch the sculptures. After we left the museum, we went to eat lunch. After lunch, we returned to Pamplona because Clare had to catch a bus at 7pm.
Today I didn't have school because it was a holiday in Pamplona. It was also my first day with my new host family. On the weekends and holidays we eat in the salon/dining room. The kids set and clear the table after each round of food. There are three rounds of food. Round 1 is usually a dish that we have cooked that day. Round 2 is usually meat or fish. Round 3 is dessert. So, today we ate lunch in the salon/dining room. After lunch, I took a nap and accidentally slept longer than I intended to but it was okay. Once I woke up from my nap, my host family and I went to the mall to see a movie. We saw Murder on the Orient Express. I understood pretty much everything the actors/actresses were saying but it was a little hard at first because they were speaking Spanish with French, Austrian, German, and British accents. The cast of the movie included some very famous actors/actresses but I didn't realize that until after the movie when I was looking at the movie poster. I definitely recommend the movie and am looking forward to watching it in English later and hearing the original voices, not the dubbed over voices.
December 1st (aka Christmas 1st)
Today it snowed in Pamplona! I was so excited to see the snow because it's not very common for it to snow in Pamplona and even though I never thought I'd say it, I was missing snow. Today was also my school's fiesta/festival day. Usually, students go to school, attend mass and then the younger grades put on performances that the students in 11th and 12th grade watch. However, students in my grade had the option to go to the Parvulario, which is where the little kids go to school. I didn't know about that option, so I wasn't able to sign up in time. Most of my friends went to the Parvulario but some didn't. Those of us that didn't go to the Parvulario decided to go out for breakfast and then go to school after mass was over. Once mass was over, we went to school to watch the performances by the younger students. After school, my old host brother (Alfonso), my host mom and I went to La Morea (the mall) to go shopping. I was just looking for a pair of black ankle boots and kept finding pairs that I liked, but none of the pairs fit me nicely. It was a little frustrating but eventually we found a pair that I liked and that fit me.
Here are some random pictures from this month.
I am so excited to see what these upcoming months have in store for me. Please comment your thoughts and messages, I love hearing from you all!