A Basque In America

Exchange year experience



I live in Getxo, a city that is located in the province of Bizkaia, In the Basque country.

Nahiane Burreso, JP Student Writer

Moving into a country that is far away from your home, where you do not know anyone for 10 months, sounds crazy, but this is what foreign exchange students like me do. People don’t realize how difficult and challenging it is to be in another country without your family. 

Living in America and having good English skills is something that a lot of Europeans dream about. When we are able to come to the US, our goal is to live new experiences, meet new people, and improve our English as best as we can. Prior to my exchange year, I had a lot of expectations and prejudices about Americans and America that have been eliminated through the time.

Getxo is located in north Spain, near the border of France. (https://dondeesta.net/donde-esta-getxo-mapa-getxo/ )

America and the Basque Country are really different, so I had a really big culture shock when I first got here. I didn’t think I was going to be surprised with American culture because of what I had seen in movies, and what I heard before coming here, but there were a lot of different things, such as the environment, the land, the weather, food among others. Where I live, there are no tornadoes and it doesn’t get as cold as in Iowa. And talking about food, in Spain, we eat more fish and not that much meat, and we have 5 meals a day. 

I thought that I was going to make friends really easily. I thought people were going to come and talk with me, but it was not like that. Even though it was a little bit hard in the beginning, to start a conversation in English with new people, I can say that now I have really good friends. But not everything is perfect. Unfortunately, I had to have to deal with bad comments and people making fun of my accent. Even if there were some people that were not nice to me, I’m so glad that I had this experience. In the beginning it was hard because of the language, but now that I can see my progression, and how I improved my English skills, I’m really happy. 

People ask a lot of questions such as, which languages do I speak and where is Spain located. So, Spain is on the Iberian Peninsula, in the Southwest corner of Europe. Even if the official language is Spanish, we have other co-official languages such as Catalan or Valencian. I actually speak three languages: Basque, Spanish and English.  I live in northern Spain, in an autonomous community called the Basque Country, which is really different from the rest of Spain. We have our own language (Basque), our own culture, and laws. 

Another thing that I think is really interesting is that it has been difficult for me to not be able to see the sea because in the Basque Country, I live near the beach. And even if I have been in lakes such as the Big Creek, they are obviously not the same, because it is not the ocean, there is not an actual beach.  But even if in the beginning, I was not feeling like home at all, now I feel like half American. 

I will totally recommend people that have the opportunity to do this experience to do it. It is really fun and you can meet new people that will always be your friend and you can have a lot of new experiences. Not only this, you get more mature and you learn a lot.