Universidad de Navarra

Until next time España

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

By Kelsey Ondrak, UW Foster Undergraduate Business Student

It is unbelievable to think that my five months in Spain are now over. I laughed, cried, and grew up a lot during those months, but the absolute best part of this experience is all the amazing people I have met. Each one is incredibly unique from the other, but for some reason we all end up bonding over the fact that we are miles away from home in a foreign country trying to survive and have a good time while we are doing it. No matter where my new friends have come from, we can all bond over our time spent in Pamplona. Whether we are buying crepes together or hanging out behind the bus station, we will always have those moments.

We all went through phases where we hated Spain and just wanted to get out, but in the end, living in Pamplona has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. If someone had asked me in March when BOTH of my computers broke and I hadn’t backed up my 20 page paper that was due at the end of the week how I was enjoying Spain, I probably would have started screaming about how I just wanted to go home. Looking back, I was a crazy person. Studying abroad, no matter where someone goes or with what program, is a key part of a person’s college education. At no other point in life will I have the opportunity to study in a foreign country for a semester and gain the same experience that I had here in Spain. I know that when I return when I am older, and I will, Pamplona will not be the same, but then again, I won’t either. Until next time España.

Fastest Month of My Life

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

The past month has flown by. In my last post, I said that I would tell you about Queensday in Amsterdam. Well here it is: Queensday was insane. Fourteen hours of sunshine, music, and millions of people dressed in orange. The streets were packed, the sidewalks were lined with food vendors, and families were on their doorsteps selling everything from old video games to jewelry. My friends and I found a spot in the middle main square (Museumplein) by the mainstage, soaking up the much-hyped environment that didn’t disappoint.

But life didn’t slow down from there. The next weekend I was in Munich, where I spent most of the time at their Spring Festival, a carnival located on the Oktoberfest grounds. I was also able to go to Dachau, the first German concentration camp. The day I got back from Germany, I went back to Amsterdam with a friend to do the typical tourist things—the Heineken Experience, Anne Frank House, and Rijksmuseum.

A week and a half after that, five friends and I headed to Italy, seeing Pisa, Florence, and Cinque Terre. The five days spent in Italy have been the highlight of my study abroad experience so far. Florence oozes with culture and seemingly every corner you turn is another beautiful church, monument, or museum. We were also treated to a beautiful firework show on the Arno River and an unforgettable sunset from Piazzala Michaelangelo, which is up on a hill across the river overlooking the city. Florence is an absolutely beautiful city and to be in Cinque Terre the next day was an unbelievable experience. We went on a picturesque (and somewhat dangerous!) seven-hour hike along the coast from the first village to the fifth, culminating in a quick dip in the Mediterranean Sea. The entire trip was almost too good to be true—everything from the views to the pizza, gelato, and panna cotta was heavenly.

That’s the beauty of studying abroad. In no other situation would I even imagine going to Italy for a long weekend. Nothing against Portland, but I probably wouldn’t even go there for a random weekend living in Seattle.

And now I have just completed my final lecture. The quarter has flown by and now I have two weeks to study for exams! …and go to Berlin and Prague.

Hola España!

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Before leaving for Spain, I heard all about the ups and downs of studying abroad and how I might really not want to go. At the time I thought people were crazy! How could I not want to go to Spain for 6 months?! As I boarded my flight in Omaha, I really didn’t want to go. When I arrived in Barcelona, I was feeling better, but then it seemed as if everything was going wrong. Not exactly how I want to remember this experience. I was incredibly jetlagged staying in, what I later found out to be, the most dangerous part of Barcelona. I just wanted to go to Pamplona already and be settled into my apartment and cry.

For the record, I don’t speak any Spanish. I know people find that incredibly difficult to understand, but it is true. As my taxi driver from the train station to my apartment told me, I was better off using my knowledge of French than speaking English to people. Those were not the words that I needed to hear as I was already super freaked out! The one amazing thing about Foster’s programs is that I am meeting TONS of international students from all over the world. This is really an opportunity that not all exchange programs have and I count myself lucky to be able to be able to make all of these new international friends.

Pamplona is a small city in northern Spain, but anyone can get that from looking at a map. It has a gorgeous Old Town full of life and character that is very unique compared to the rest of the city. In the middle of town is the old citadel that they are renovating. Spaniards seem to think that renovating means building something new to look like the old and that bums me out because I feel like things lose a lot of character when they do that. During our Welcoming Week at the university (I totally recommend this to anyone who is studying in Pamplona in the future), we walked through the Old Town, saw the original walls of the city, and walked the San Fermines’ Running of the Bulls route. I wish I was staying until July to see the whole festival, but unfortunately the Spanish government is going to kick me out before when my visa expires!


Camino de Santiago

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

It’s Rachel again! Just a reminder, I’m the one studying in Pamplona, Spain at the University of Navarra. My time here is quickly coming to an end. I will be back in Seattle in less than one month! Sadly, I will miss the next trip with the Club de Montañas…thankfully the last trip will more than make up for it! Last weekend we hiked part of the Camino de Santiago along the Basque Coast. If you ignored the ridiculous amount of ETA tags along the trails, it was absolutely amazing. The weather was 20 degrees Celsius (I no longer speak Fahrenheit) and the sun was out. The bus left bright and early (as usual) and we started out trek around 9am. Other than the details of arrival and departure, I didn’t really pay attention to the e-mail explaining the trip. So it was a surprise when my phone company sent me a text saying “welcome to France…”. Evidently, we started just inside the French borders! The other important detail that I missed was that we were hiking 15 miles. Luckily I had on hiking gear; some of the other exchange students weren’t as lucky. They were in jeans, nice shirts and shoes that were NOT built for any type of strenuous activity. The views along the trails were gorgeous. We stopped in a small town for lunch before continuing to San Sebastian, where we ended. Before the bus headed back at around 6pm, we got to walk along the beach and soak our feet. Sadly it was still too cold to swim! It was an exhausting day but totally worth it. I’m going to miss San Sebastian so much!

Once Upon a Steep Mountain

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

It’s me again! I’ve been in Pamplona for about a month and I still love it. It is definitely a smaller city but I think it is absolutely charming. This last weekend I joined the mountain club at the university to go snowshoeing! I met the bus on Saturday morning at 7am. Bright and early. The trip there took a little under two hours (perfect cat nap). Once there, I realized that the level of difficulty was going to be much higher than I had anticipated. Rather than rolling hills, I was looking at a ski mountain. As in everyone else had come to go DOWN this monster, not the opposite. At least I wasn’t alone.

Everyone strapped on their snow shoes and headed out. I have to point out that it is quite frustrating when you are halfway up an extremely steep slope,  out of breath, sweating, and scared for your life only to look to your right and see people happily riding the chairlift UP. I actually think it is grounds for cruel and unusual punishment. After 3 hours we finally reached the top. The next challenge: manage to get back down. A few minutes into the decline, I was thinking I would rather climb some more. I didn’t have poles which made things a little more difficult. There was a lot of sliding . We stopped for about an hour at a rest point called the “polar club”.  It was really sunny out so we sat outside and ate our lunches before heading back to Pamplona.

I walked in the door of my apartment at around 6pm and fell asleep almost instantly. It was a hard day’s work and completely worth it. I climbed a mountain! I can’t wait for the next adventure.


Getting Started

Friday, April 1st, 2011

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!


New International Friends in Spain!

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Jen Yeh in SpainHey there! My name is Jen Yeh and I’m a junior studying accounting and international business. I’m currently in Pamplona, Spain at the University of Navarra for fall semester, and it has been unlike any experience I’ve ever had. Despite the nearly 22 hours of traveling, Alexa and I (the other exchange student from UW) arrived in Spain relatively hassle free. The weather here though at the end of August was humid and unbearably hot for us. So during the first few days of exploring, we nearly melted in the heat. We didn’t realize that the “siestas” between 2pm-4pm everyday, where most the stores are closed, was when everyone hid from the hottest part of the day.

 As for my living situation, I had originally contacted two Spanish girls to live with, but after two weeks of trying to survive in a smoke-filled apartment, I had to move! Thankfully, I was able to find another apartment with two other Spanish girls who are much nicer, and somewhat more hygienic. The meal times… lunch is generally around 2pm and dinner around 9pm. At first that was somewhat difficult to adjust to, being use to eating lunch at 1130am and dinner at 530pm or 6pm! Pamplona itself is a fairly small city, but considered medium-sized in Spain. It’s a bit on the yellow side, but is also surrounded by mountains, and the Pyrenees Mountains are only a two-hour bus ride away. After running nearly all of Pamplona, I was able to find decent running by going towards the nearby towns, Cizur Menor and Cizur Mayor.Spanish SweetsExciting Travels

 It really is incredible the amount of people I’ve met and gotten to know from all over the world. During the first day of orientation, there were people from Australia, Ireland, Iceland, Germany, China, Taiwan, Portugal, Ecuador, Mexico, Italy, Poland, Belgium, Korea, England, France, Brazil, Czech Republic, Canada, Thailand… the list goes on. It was crazy. Some of them had perfect English that I automatically thought they were American. We met at 10am and sat through information sessions for a few hours, had a gigantic pan of paella for lunch (which I couldn’t really eat since it consisted of chicken and a type of seafood that literally looked like snails..let’s just say Spain is not at all vegetarian friendly). Registering for classes was a bit more stressful. We spend the first few days going to classes we think we might be interested in and then we don’t actually solidify a schedule until a couple weeks later. But it works out in the end, even if it is a month later haha

Being in Europe has made me realize how multi-lingual everyone is. Nearly everyone is able to fluently speak two languages, at minimum. When Alexa and I traveled to Bordeaux, France, our waiter spoke English to us, Spanish to the table next to us, and French to another table.  On a side note, the pace of life in Spain is definitely much slower, in contrast to the constant go go go attitude at UW and in the states. Anyhow, until then!  Beach Time!Study Abroad Friends

Spice of Spanish Life!

Thursday, October 21st, 2010
Mexican Dinner Night with Jen and our International Friends

Mexican Dinner Night with Jen and our International Friends

Hey guys! My name is Alexa Parker and I am a junior studying Business and Spanish at the University of Washington. I am currently in Pamplona, Spain for fall semester studying at the Universidad of Navarra along with Jen Yeh, another student at the Foster School. Having this opportunity to explore Spain and Europe has been amazing and I am sad that my time here is halfway over.

The University of Navarra has an extensive international program that makes meeting people and getting integrated into the University so easy. At first this University seems unorganized with figuring out class schedules and registration but I promise that everything does work out, it just happens a little slower than in the United States. I am living with a Spanish girl and I seriously recommend rooming with native Spanish speakers if you have the chance. With meeting all of the international students, it is very easy to speak English most of the time, but my roommate forces me to practice my Spanish.

Pamplona is in the northeast of Spain right on the French border, which means it is relatively close to the rest of Western Europe. The town itself is pretty and quaint but small, at least compared to Seattle. If you are interested in traveling I would advise you to take some weekend trips, which are easy and not terribly expensive if you can go through the budget airlines. So far I have made it to San Sebastian and Valencia in Spain, as well as London and Bordeaux and have booked trips to Barcelona, Geneva, Berlin, Lisbon and Rome. It’s so crazy to think that two months ago I was sitting in Seattle never having been out of the United States in my life. Hasta luego!

Being Back

Monday, January 4th, 2010

faustinoI am back home and already missing Pamplona. Spanish tortillas, two hour lunches in the cafeteria, and weekend adventures in the countryside are the moments that remain in my mind. The experience was fun. But more than fun, it was valuable.

Leaving my friends in Seattle and meeting students from around the world allowed me to gain a better understanding of human relationships. I met people who gave me an enormous amount of trust, which I reciprocated, despite us having interacted for only moments. These acquaintances hosted me in their homes, more than once giving me a key to the front door.  Being able to contrast those interactions with relationships in my daily life in Seattle has led me to look at those relationships in a new way. Not only has traveling given me new perspectives, it has also inspired me to host travelers in Seattle, which I hope to do soon. Perhaps I can help others explore this city while I do so myself.


Saturday, November 28th, 2009

stockholm night 1Five days in Stockholm has taught me to appreciate the sun. It was fun (and cold and dark and depressing). Vance, a fellow Foster student in Milan, and his German classmate Michael were in Stockholm as well. We saw museums and several typical tourists sites. When we weren’t penny pinching, we powered up on hot dogs and a Thai buffet  (unfortunately, the Swedish Krona is valued even higher than the Euro). It’s amazing to be able to hop on a three-hour flight, and be in a place with a different language, different climate, and different way of living. Perhaps simply being close to the rest of Europe is the best reason to study in any European city.

On the other hand, traveling has its drawbacks. I only have two weeks left in Pamplona. I realized I have hardly been here. I have yet to see a game of Osasuna, the local soccer team, and I have not even been to the town’s market. Pamplona quickly became familiar to me, so I stopped exploring. And I realized, I live the same way in Seattle, never having to gone SIFF, the zoo, or anything else that makes our city unique. So, if living abroad has changed me in anyway, I hope this experience has inspired me to keep exploring.

stockholm group