I love classes where I actually feel like I’m learning something. NERD ALERT. But really, there are few things I dislike more than spending an hour to an hour and a half of my life in class and getting nothing out of it. What a waste of time! Consequently, contrary to the opinions of several of my classmates, Europa en el mundo (aka Europe in the world) is by far my favorite class that I’m taking here in Spain.
A little background info on the class: the class is taught in spanish (which, fyi, I love!!!) and is focused on the European Union – specifically its members, its structure, and its role in international affairs. So, basically, Europe in the world is a political science class. Or at least it’s what I imagine a political science class would be like if I had ever taken one, which leads me to my next point. A little background info on my knowledge of the European Union: . Yupp, you’ve got it – zilch, nada, blank slate! (Okay, maybe I was aware of the fact that Germany, France, and Spain are all a part of it but aside from that I was clueless). Consequently, for the first few classes, I struggled my way through the mixture of spanish and english articles, learning new pieces of information here and there and for the most part finding myself completely overwhelmed by this new subject. Every time that struggle was worth it! I’d show up in class with a highlighted article, which still really made no sense to me, and leave an hour and fifteen minutes later with pages full of notes from which I feel I’d be able to explain the latest concept to any nine year old on the street and have her understand (yeah, my teacher is that good!).
So after over two months of reading, listening, and absorbing all this information about the wonderful world of the European Union I was under the impression that I’d reach a point where things would no longer be confusing, where I’d have a knowledge base such that having something to contribute to the discussion of this class (which is usually ruled by three politics smarty-pants) would become a common occurrence instead of a feat that leaves me feeling accomplished for days. I still haven’t gotten there. Everyday Tuesday and Thursday I sit through Europe in the world gaining infinite (an exaggeration, but I like that word…) amounts of new information about a subject that very well may not be part of my major but is more or less a large part of life! And thus I have reached the conclusion that regardless of all my wonderful prior education, I’d been living my life in an american bubble even more so than I originally thought. Not only have I only known the culture one country, I’ve really only thought of the world in terms of that country. A few days ago I couldn’t even have told you where Cyprus and Kosovo are on the map let alone what relation they could possibly have to the entrance of Turkey in the European Union. In fact, at this point, I’m considering it luck of the draw that I knew where Turkey is on that map. Thank you, José, for showing me that many more baby steps (or should I say breaths ??) will be needed to expand the realm of that bubble I call home until I am no longer ameri-centered but rather the tinniest bit world savy.
Since I couldn’t easily get myself to Cyprus for the weekend, I decided to continue focusing on the expansion of the spanish part of my little bubble with yet another wonderful País Vasco adventure. In honor of 11/11/11 (but actually quite by coincidence) my friends Aisha, Elana, Kelsey, and I found our way to la ermita de San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
– a tiny hermitage on the top of an island in Bakio, Spain about 45 minutes from Bilbao – where, upon summit, you are supposed to ring the church bell three times and make a wish! How fitting. In addition to being the ideal wishing location, San Juan de Gaztelugatxe and the entire walk/climb there were gorgeous! We truly enjoyed basking in the beauty of the entire trip, playing on Bakio’s sandy beaches, and each other’s company (cue the sharing of sandwiches, song harmonizing, and several laughs). The 70 degree weather was also definitely a plus!
Mañana it’s off to the mountains once again with the hiking club. So pumped : )