Meet Jada Hislop, a 21 – year- old University of Southern California student, currently studying abroad in Bilbao Spain. Read on to learn her foodie experiences while living abroad in Spain!
Since September 2018, I have been living and studying in Bilbao, Spain. Bilbao is situated in northern Spain, in the Basque Country.
The city is surrounded by lush green mountains, and from the top of Mount Artxanda, you can get a full view of the spectacular landscape of the city. A river runs through the center of the city, and you can get breathtaking views of the sea during a relaxing day at one of the many beaches that are only about 20 minutes away.
Here, I live in an apartment in the town of Deusto, which is only a short walk away from my new school, The University of Deusto. There, I am studying Language and Culture. In just a few weeks, I will return to my home in Atlanta, Georgia. Lately, I can’t help creating a mental list of things that I will miss from here when I go back home.
Here in the Basque Country, there is a mountain of culinary delights. It is one of the regions with the most Michelin star restaurants. Bilbao and Basque Country, in general, is a foodie heaven. On every street and every corner, you can find Pintxo bars. Pintxos are small snacks or finger foods, usually served on a small piece of bread with a toothpick holding it together. There are so many different types of pintxos, from tortilla de patata (sort of a Spanish omelet) to more exquisite things that don’t have specific names. Of course, pintxos are enjoyed with a cerveza (beer) or a glass of wine, perhaps txakoli. Txakoli is a slightly sparkling white wine produced in Basque Country. There is also another interesting and surprisingly good drink here, very popular with the younger crowd, called kalimotxo. Kalimotoxo is red wine mixed with Coca-Cola.
Also, we can’t forget the sweets here. The bakeries and cafes in Bilbao are probably my favorite places to visit. You will find me buying a bollo de mantequilla at one of my favorite bakeries Zuricalday every Tuesday when all their goods are half off. Bollo de mantequilla is a typical pastry of Bilbao. It is a sweet bun, filled with a fluffy buttery cream. After trying almost every type of pastry here, 10/10 Bollo de mantequilla always wins.
Food plays an important role in any international experience. For one, it is a way for you to experience the culture. Also, the food culture in Spain is very social, meaning it is a time for you to slow down and enjoy the company you have around you. Here, I live with a host family and my host mom cooks all my meals. Because of this, I have not only gotten to try great food and restaurants around town, but I also get to try the traditional Basque cuisine that is cooked in the home. One thing I had to get used to here was adjusting to the eating schedules. Lunch is the largest meal of the day, usually around 3pm-4pm, and dinner is usually late for American standards, at around 9-10 pm. Most meals are eaten together as a family, and it is the best time to get to know the people, the culture and the way of life here.
Generally speaking, it isn’t the food itself that I will miss from Bilbao. It’s the new places that are discovered when searching for places to eat, the new friendships formed, the conversations shared, and the memories that are made around the table that I will miss the most.
Check out Jada’s pictures from Spain and around Europe!