Skip to main content

Expectation Vs. Reality in San Sebastian

No matter where you are going or what you are doing, you have an idea or expectation of what it will be like. It can be easy to set high expectations and be a little disappointed if they aren't fulfilled, but if you put yourself in the right mindset, your idea of what something will be like won't matter. I went into my exchange to San Sebastián making sure not to hold on to high expectations, or any expectations at all, but before I did create assumptions of what my exchange, the food, culture, and people would be like with the little information I had. I cannot believe how different this trip turned out. The reality surpassed my expectation, but the best part was what I got out of this trip was so unexpected.

My thought was that I would come away from this trip knowing more Spanish and feeling more confident with my Spanish abilities, along with having a bond with a new family overseas. Being alone in another country definitely did more than improve my Spanish. I gained a confidence you can only get from navigating delayed flights, layovers, and having to travel independently in a foreign country, all in a different language.



What really made this an unforgettable trip was the friendships I made, and what I was able to do with the independence I was given. Every weekday I would bus to school and go to three hours of language classes. There were kids from all around the world who came to San Sebasti├ín to improve their Spanish at the school La Cunza. We were all in the same situation, which was why it was so easy to make friends. In the first day of school I had become friends with eight girls from the UK, Turkey and the US. We spent almost everyday together, and in two weeks I created friendships that we all hope to keep for a long time. After school, when we didn’t travel outside the city with our program, our group of friends spent the afternoon laying on the beach, eating many many pintxos and gelato, and exploring the city, which I was proud to say I knew my way around by the end of my trip. We would meet up after eating dinner with our families, go to the beach and watch the sunset over the ocean. This was the most unexpected part of my trip. I never anticipated to create such strong friendships and connections as well as to have so much in common with such amazing people. 


My host family was a relationship I knew I would create before coming, but was very nervous about what the result would be. I ended up loving them. They were all so kind and generous to me. My host dad taught me to surf, my host sister took me to see Buscando Dory, my host mom showed me all over the city, and we all would spend days at the beach together. With my family is where I felt my Spanish abilities rise because they all made sure to include me in every conversation. I was no stranger in their house. They acted like I was family.  I thought my host family would either make or break my trip, and it definitely had a big effect, but I came to realize not one factor of the trip played a larger part than another, and a majority of my experiences were dependent on my attitude and mindset. If I was positive and ready for anything, it all ended up being incredible.   

Transitioning to my daily life was easier than I expected, though it was different. My whole flight home I felt like I never wanted to leave, but as I stepped into the PDX airport all I could think about was seeing my family, friends, and of course my dogs. My experiences, relationships and confidence coming back home have made me excited and inspired to not make that my last foreign exchange, and I am already thinking about what will be next. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How to Write a Letter to Your Host Family

The letter to your host family is one of the most important pieces of your program abroad application; it’s the host family’s first impression of you. Exchange programs take many factors into account when matching you with a host family, but ultimately it’s up to the host family to decide whether to host you or not. Here are a few helpful tips to writing a great letter to your future host family: Use a positive tone. “The main reason a student’s dossier is passed over by families is unintentional negativity,” explains Rebecca Gundle, Program Coordinator for ANDEO International Homestays. A student might be trying to explain her preferences, but when she devotes equal attention to describing her dislikes, she comes across as negative or picky. A family wants to know that the student they host will be adaptable and willing to try new things. Keep your tone upbeat and positive. Go deeper than the application form. Try to avoid simply reiterating what is on the form. This is a c

Tips for Teens Traveling Independently

Many of our programs allow you to choose your own program dates, flights, and length. Some advantages to this are that families have control over booking flights and are able to use frequent flyer miles. One challenge, however, is that students must travel independently to their program destinations. Some teens are understandably nervous about flying alone.  Here are some tips to help teens and parents feel more at ease about traveling internationally without a chaperone or flight leader. Before booking your ticket Check with us before booking your ticket to see if anyone else from your area will be attending your program at the same time. We can put you in contact with one another. Booking your ticket Whenever possible, choose a direct flight. Fewer fights mean fewer opportunities for flights to be delayed or for other problems to arise. If a direct fight is not possible, choose a flight that stops or makes connections in the United States. Whenever possible, stick with t

Tackling the Dust Bunnies (and other surprising benefits of hosting an exchange student)

By Elizabeth Markleson, host mom You could say I'm a relaxed housekeeper. Our kitchen table is covered with piles of papers "to be dealt with later", our sink is often full of dishes, and you can be sure there is a whole family of dust bunnies living under the furniture. When my kids were little and they would see me go into my cleaning mode, they would always ask, "Who is coming to visit?" Not much changes over the years! When it comes to housework, a guest is a great motivator. The days were ticking down before our Spanish student arrived and my to-do list was getting longer and longer. “Don’t stress too much about it,” my sister said. “Isn’t your student just supposed to blend into your family as it is? This is an exchange student, not a visiting dignitary, after all.” True, but I am a strong believer in the power of first impressions. When my daughter went to Spain a few years ago, her host family added some really nice touches to make her feel welcome..