San Sebastian

As a frequent traveler, I have been to 16 countries and over 50 famous destinations all-over the world; but if you ask me to recommend the best beach I have ever been, with no doubt, I will give you the name “San Sebastián”, or in the local Basque language, “Donostia”.

Before I start to introduce this amazing city, I would like to quote some words from my travel guide book; “We would like to say there is nothing impossible in the world, but there is one exception, that if someone comes to San Sebastián and didn’t fall in love with the city, which is absolutely impossible”. I was very much impressed by it, and of course, San Sebastián was even beyond my expectation, and here is why:

Spectacular beach
There are two beaches in San Sebastián, which are Zurriola Beach in the east and Kontxa Hondartza Beach in the west. These two beaches are actually quite close, but in two different styles, like completely different. So firstly, the Zurriola Beach is open towards to the Atlantic Ocean, then the wave here is pretty big, for sure it is not good for swimming, and it is absolutely ideal for the surfing. BTW, the surfing class is also available here, if you haven’t tried before, here is one of the best places for beginner. By contrast, the Kontxa Hondartza Beach is bigger, but much more relaxing, prefect for swimming, snorkeling, beach volleyball, beach football, sunbath, book reading, sand castle building… and many other fun activities.

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Historical part
Right beside of Kontxa Hondartza Beach is the historical part of San Sebastián. The archaic street, shops and churches will bring your back to the old time, to see the old Europe, when the great artists were traveling cross Europe, and making their masterpieces. Just don’t follow the crowd, make you own way, get lost in the city, you will alway discover something new and something interesting, and trust me, it is really fascinating.

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The food!
San Sebastián is not only famous for its beautiful beaches, but also, it is called the capital of “Pintxos”. “Pintxos” is the traditional Spanish food, south Spain call it “Tapas”, it is made by many ingredients, with over 1 million different flavors and matches. I believe it is understandable that food is really hard to be described in words, then you will have to try you own. But I will put my reputation here, to say, San Sebastián’ Pintxos is definitely one the best in Spain.

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There are much more about San Sebastián I couldn’t put in words here, but there is one thing I have to say, that San Sebastián is one of the best destination in Spain, and if you go there, you will find out more.

Victor

La Rioja, Spain

Hola!

After spending the past few weeks here in Logroño, La Rioja, Spain I wanted to take a minute to reflect on my time here.
The program here at University of Larioja is a very cool concept itself. They bring students from all over the world (South Korea, Phillipines, Germany, to name a few) together, all with the same goal of learning Spanish, whatever their level may be. I’m finding that this common goal between all of us international students is making it easy to meet and connect with the other students. Everyone so far has been super nice and everyone seems to be interested in learning about the culture of the countries of the other student. The staff have also been great. They make an effort to give us advice on the best spots to go see and where to visit, above and beyond teaching us Spanish.

Spain is proving to be a very beautiful place. In addition to the trips I’ve taken over weekends, the program has taken us on some local excursions and I’ve also explored on my own or with friends and I have certainly found that there are some absolutely gorgeous spots right here in Logrono. One of my highlights in terms of nature I’ve seen in Logroño, is the path along the river which is right behind our residence. It is very beautiful and serene and it goes on for a quite some distance.

In conclusion, the trip so far has been really awesome in so many different ways and I really want to thank the GEO team at centennial for making all of this possible.

 

By:Mike Bernstein

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PAMPLONA, Spain

My name is Kawoos Naserie and I was one of many students chosen to attend the two-week intensive language program at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. Upon my arrival I was greeted by my friendly hostess who was overly joyed when meeting me. Throughout my stay in this beautiful city, I experienced authentic Spanish cuisine, pinxhos (tapas in the south), cervesa and sangria as well as incorporate the lifestyle into my stay. I learned of how they eat and when they eat which is a lot different to the western norms.

The most important part of the trip with the Language classes we were taking as a group. With these classes, I learned a lot of basic Spanish words and phrases that were essential to my travels after the program was over. I met a lot of Spanish speakers who did not speak English very well, but with the help of my Spanish language classes, we were able to communicate a lot better.

At this time, I would like to thank my coordinators from Centennial College, Pearl Vas and Yana Avdyeyeva  for sending me on such a wonderful and inspiring trip. I have learned a lot and would like to continue learning Spanish in the future.

Bienvenidos a España – by Kenny

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Photo: Catedral de Santa María

It’s only been several days since our arrival in Spain, and I’m already beginning to experience the familiar ebbs and flows of culture shock. Last month, I took part in the GCELE Jamaica program and was still repatriating before I was uprooted once again for Spain.

After nearly 10 hours of flying, followed by another 2-hour bus journey from Bilbao airport, I finally arrived in the lovely city of Pamplona. It is an incredibly vibrant, culturally unique city, rich with historical significance, and located in the Basque region of Northern Spain. Pamplona is the capital city of the Kingdom of Navarre, inhabiting about 200,000 people, and is considered to be the wealthiest part of the country. The city perhaps garners the most infamy for its annual San Fermín festival, including the running of the bulls event.

In addition to its rich history, I was here to attend the 2-week intensive Spanish course at the University of Navarra. Our arrival that day brought us straight onto campus where we met our homestay family. The campus itself is as magnificent as it was beautiful, comprised of all major academia. Most notably, the University has a strong reputation for Business Administration and its Medical School.

I was paired up with a fellow student from Centennial and after brief introductions, we were whisked away to our home for the next 2 weeks, where we settled in and had a pleasant meal with our host. Carmen is a magnificent lady who speaks only Spanish. Though this most certainly meant that we could not speak any English, I welcomed the challenge as there was no shying away from my Spanish foibles. Admittedly, for the first few days, there were a lot of hand gesturing, head-nodding, and other non-verbal adlibbings. After a few days, it became much more natural and a bit silly at times too.

The first day of school the following day made me reminisce on the days of my earlier undergraduate career: full of anticipation and excitement. How many other students will be there? Where will they be from? Many questions, but perhaps it was over-shadowed by the novelty of my surroundings.

I’ve had only a week of full-on Spanish lessons, learning everything from its language and culture, to its extensive history and traditions. Expanding my vocabulary every day, each trip home at the end of the day seems to allow me to communicate a little better with my host.

There are still many more lessons ahead, and I hope to continue getting better everyday. As they say in Spanish: un poco a poco (little by little). I think that it’s quite easy to be discouraged in this type of environment, where it gets uncomfortable when you essentially lose your ability to speak. Though difficult to do, I believe it’s important to embrace the experience and to keep an upbeat attitude towards it. This is precisely what I’ve tried to do, so we will see how things go over the course of the next week. It also doesn’t hurt to have a little fun too able we are at it!

Until next time! Hasta luego! (see you later)

Things I Learned in Ghana – Rita

  • How to peel mangos properly
  • How to cook rice in the microwave
  • How to make Ghanaian stew
  • How to make a variety of meals with only a stove top
  • How to speak a little bit of Twi
  • How to walk for hours without getting tired
  • How to urinate outside (LOL)
  • To put bug spray ALL over my body, not just exposed skin
  • That ants here bite and it’s very painful
  • How to cross the street, which sometimes feels more like the playing in traffic that your mother always warned you against
  • How to bargain the prices of EVERYTHING… I was told by my coworker that I can bargain better then most locals, sometimes it takes 20 minutes, but HEY I like good prices 😉
  • That there are truly kind strangers everywhere in Ghana – I have had people walk me to places and go way out of there way, got free taxi and tro-tro rides, people have given me free stuff (African clothes, fabrics, produce, food, etc.)
  • That it starts getting dark here by 6:00pm and is pitch black 6:30pm YEAR ROUND
  • That ‘sacked’ here means getting fired (not kicked in your private parts) LOL that was a funny discussion between me and my boss
  • That Canadians are not the only ones who say ‘Eh’
  • Men here like women who have some extra ‘meat’ on their bones. They believe that if this is the case, it means your family is wealthy because they are able to provide you with plenty of food
  • Ghanains like to laugh A LOT and humour can be a life saver here
  • The words ‘plastic bag’ here do not exist, they are called ‘rubbers’
  • Almost everything under the sun comes in black ‘rubbers’
  • Hitting children with just about any item that is close by is acceptable (comb, purse, shoe, wallet, stick, cane, etc.)
  • That I can survive without air conditioning, Yeah meeee!
  • How to hand wash clothes (although I HATE doing it)
  • That I will not die if I don’t use hand sanitizer 10+ times a day
  • That I can survive without hot water
  • My Ghanaian name – Afua (Friday born)
  • That you cannot survive in Africa without a back pack
  • That sometimes I just had to accept the fact that I had no clue what kind of animal I was eating and I just hoped for the best
  • That you don’t really need to lotion your body here because you sweat so much that your skin never gets dry
  • That freshening up here includes washing your face AND feet
  • That wearing bras are not necessary for girls and women (where have we gone wrong North America!)
  • That the used clothing market here is HUGE (I saw a man wearing a Tim Horton’s uniform shirt recently, I had a proud Canadian moment). They even sell used underwear, which they are trying to due away with due to the spreading of illnesses
  • That I can only eat so many canned sardines until I look at them and feel like I am going to be sick
  • That I can survive on a mainly vegetarian diet
  • That nearly EVERYTHING is cheaper in Ghana (food, fabric, hand made things, clothes, shoes, etc.)
  • That jet lag can last up to 2 weeks (2 days my bottom!!!!)
  • That take-out food is sold in small clear plastic bags and tied (you have to pay extra for take-out containers)
  • That if you don’t know better, locals will over charge you at least double (taxis, food, tro-tro’s, clothes, etc.)
  • That the majority of Ghanaians believe that anyone who is white is filthy rich
  • That I love local food, but only recently has it stopped making me sick
  • How to do just about everything with my right hand (using left hand for many things is not acceptable here)
  • Sadly, given the opportunity some people will pick pocket or steal from you. It happened to me recently, it’s the reality of being a foreigner in a 3rd world country
  • That you pay cash for EVERYTHING here, no one has debit or credit machines and if they do, they don’t work