We Are Travelers

Madeline S. is currently a junior at SYA Spain and a Campus Storytelller. She comes to SYA from St. Paul's School.

As I write this, I am sitting on the beach in San Sebastián. Three and a half hours away from my home in Zaragoza. It is the first opportunity I’ve had to travel overnight. Having woken up at 5:30 AM to catch the bus, all I wanted to do upon our arrival was sleep for a few hours but begrudgingly, I was dragged out. Our first destination: The Beach. What beach? We didn’t know. Despite having five of my friends with me in San Sebastián, no one had any plans. I find that the best way to travel is without a plan. Without a set destination, there is infinite freedom to explore wherever you want at the moment you want to.

A picture of a beach in Spain at sunset

Eventually, we found our way to the sea - admittedly not a hard task in the place known for its beautiful beaches. The water was surprisingly warm for being near winter, but the sand was freezing. After a leisurely walk on the beach, we made our way to the old part of town. San Sebastián is worlds different from Zaragoza. With SYA, I have had the incredible opportunity to visit a multitude of different cities in Spain. Each place has a diverse culture and rich history which ensures every new city means a new adventure. For example, San Sebastián has wonderful Tapas restaurants. Walking through the side streets, people flow from inside the bars, spilling out into the streets and bringing their laughter and conversations. The smell of food drifts through the street and wherever you look there are tapas in every color of the rainbow. Half of the tapas are unfamiliar, there are so many choices! The rich restaurant culture creates an air of community as everyone crowds around the same singular heater - pushing through shoulders and tripping over shoes. Yet despite the crowdedness of the bars and streets, it's not uncomfortable.

We wander the streets moving in and out of the many stores - meandering in when we spot a particularly shiny piece of jewelry or atrocious fashion item. In a basketball court behind a church, a band of heavily eyelinered boys plays rock music attracting a small crowd of teens and young adults. We must have visited five different restaurants, determined to try as many different types of pintxos as possible. Each place has its own specialty. After lunch, we went back to the beach to watch the sunset. We watched the sky turn pink and orange, setting behind the buildings and melting into the sea - the surfers catching the final few waves of the day.

A picture of a Ferris wheel in Spain light up blue at night

At night the city is a different beast. There is so much life. The adventure continues as we make our way to the beachfront Ferris wheel. It glows bright blue on the shore. The view of the city is gorgeous from so high in the air. Each window glows, and the city stretches from the beach to the mountains in the distance - mountains, lit only by the faint glow of a nearly full moon which rests above us. The shore close to the Ferris wheel is a dazzling neon color, but farther out, past where the boats sit still in the water, is the horizon. The first stars are coming out and my friends and I make wishes. I wish for more time. The last three months have passed like a blur. I realize how far I’ve come and that I don’t want to leave! So little time has passed and yet I already feel so different. Sitting on the top of that Ferris wheel, looking down at San Sebastián from my perch in the sky, I am overwhelmed by the realization that I am here.

I am here, I am in Spain, and the world is mine to explore and experience.



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  • SYA Spain
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