I’m here, I made it! Lets take a few steps back and begin with an introduction. My name is Rachel Abbott and I’m starting a semester abroad in Pamplona, Spain. This is where your eyes should light up and think “Hey, isn’t that where the running of the bulls is?” Yes, I am staying in a city known for crazy people who think running with angry bulls is a good idea. But I digress…I chose this program because a) I wanted to study abroad, b) the university offers business classes in English, and c) I have been studying Spanish and want to become fluent. At first I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to practice a lot of Spanish because people kept telling me that pretty much everyone speaks English in Europe. These people obviously haven’t been to Pamplona. I soon discovered that outside of the university, you are hard pressed to find anyone that speaks English. Total immersion? Check.
I landed in Pamplona about a week before orientation because I hadn’t figured out housing yet. Although I was really nervous to wait until the last minute, I am so glad I did! I stayed in a tiny hostel in the old part of the city called “Casco Antiguo.” Over the next week, I managed to meet 4 other students on exchange that were also looking for housing and I found an apartment! I am so glad that I didn’t arrange for my apartment plans over e-mail (although I tried my hardest…). After looking at about 4 apartments I found the perfect fit: a small apartment about 10 minutes walk from campus with 3 Honduran girls. A few of my other friends who arranged living situations before they arrived are not as happy. One of them showed up only to be told that they had given her room to someone else and another ended up living with two chain smokers that never clean up after themselves. Yikes!
Fast forward to orientation and my first week at the University of Navarra. The international club at the university put together an orientation that lasted 3 days. It was an amazing opportunity to meet all the other international students.
Now I have friends from all over the world! My favorite part of orientation was the day trip to San Sebastian. Although it wasn’t sunny and a Sunday (when everything is closed) it was absolutely beautiful and the food was to die for. I can’t wait to go back when it starts getting sunny! As for the first week of school…it didn’t really happen for international students. At orientation we were handed schedules full of all the classes and given the instructions to sit in on the classes that we were interested in taking. From that point on, we had about a week and a half to decide and register with the counselor. I didn’t actually become fully engaged with my classes until halfway through the second week. I guess that is normal!
Now that I am settled into my class schedule I can’t wait to travel around. It’s my first time in Europe and I want to take advantage of it! Next weekend I’m off to Barcelona with some of the students I just met. Hasta luego!