Here it is my contribution to this blog, on my enriching experience in Oñati, where I relate a bit of my experience in my first one-month-stay in the International Institute for the Sociology of Law.
To start with, it is good to know that the working language is English. Switch to English as you pass through the door of Antia Residence. When someone don’t speak Spanish or Basque, all the group switch to English immediately. This is not rare but frequent: I met people from Canada, Australia, France, Hungary, the USA…
Traditional and critical criminology is everywhere. The Institute has a big library on Sociology of Law. Perhaps for this reason, if you are a criminologist, you’ll feel very comfortable there. The library has three spaces. One, with physical (and electronic) journals (Eguzquilore, Punishment and Society, and so on) and one scanner; and two more spaces plenty of books, mainly written in English, but also in other languages. You’ll find many references to include in your writings on Social Control, Policing, Prisons, Human rights, Governance, etc. and there are also many fundamental pieces on Political Science, Sociology, Philosophy, Law, etc.
Practice of sports. Within a five-minute’s walk from the Institute or the Residence you can find the public Zubikoa Sport Centre. In my case, I frequently enjoyed the pool (open all-year-round), but there are further sports to practice. During summer there’s also an area to sunbath. You can buy a single ticket for every session or to get a 10-sesions-boucher. The staff is very friendly, as all Oñati inhabitants. Also, in summer, don’t forget to walk or bike to the natural pool of Usako, that it’s very near of Oñati.
Accommodation. Although you’ll arrive to Oñati with a prearrangement accommodation, once you are there you may find other offers. Sometimes, there’re availability of apartments or rooms from Oñati’s inhabitants, which are very kind and reliable. In my case, I stayed one week in an apartment, because the Residence was full in those days. The landlord was very kind (thanks M. for the bikes and your hospitality). Also, the Institute staff will do everything to help you and make your stay as happy as possible.
Communications. I used public transports in my stay. Based on that experience, I’d to recommend you get the Gipuzkoa card to save a bit of money traveling within this province. Besides, there’re one or two direct buses from Bilbao airport to Oñati, but everybody will recommend you go to San Prudentzio bus stop, which is a busy commuting point to Oñati, Bilbao, San Sebastian-Donosti and Vitoria-Gasteiz.
Food. Since you’ve a well-equipped kitchen in Antia Residence, you can prepare your own meal. Within five-minutes-walk you can find a medium-side supermarket called Eroski, and a bigger Eroski by ten-minutes-walk in the opposite direction; this one with fresh fish and seafood. In that way there are also a small supermarket called Coviran, that opens until ten, even on Sundays. If you can’t live without fresh bread every morning, go to Atzeko Kalea, 14. Also, you can have breakfast in Ogi Berri or Bizipoz Kafe in your way to the Institute. At lunch time, I used to go to the building of Mondragon University in Oñati (no id. is required to access to the canteen, but ask the staff to be seated). Their daily-menu is wealthy, tasty and it cost around 13€. Don’t leave Oñati without learn about the Mondragon’s cooperative system, where the supermarket previously mentioned, Eroski, is also a part of.
Finally, and the more important: Oñati is a hub of ideas, scholars and a very productive place. It doesn’t matter when or where. You’ll write a lot in the morning, confront your ideas with colleagues in the afternoon (at the same time you enjoy a glass of Basque cider during pintxopote) or attend a private master class on methodology of science in the terrace of Antia at night (thanks Javier B.).
To sum up, Oñati is a perfect ecosystem where time lets you space to enjoy, rest, think, write and share. That is, to fully live knowledge.
Thanks for all, OC!
Manuel Fanega (Loyola University, Spain)