Los recuerdos de Espana: Spain trip 2017

Sam Kult, Opinions Editor

Last summer, a group of BCHS Spanish students traveled to Spain. While others may have been busy soaking up some sun on the beach, or lazily snoozing away, the group consisting of sophomores, juniors, and seniors departed from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in June, and, after a connecting flight in Charlotte, landed in Madrid. For the next twelve days, these American students were immersed in an entirely new culture.

“I learned that I look very American,” said Chelsea Russell (‘18) “When I would walk down the streets, people walking past would yell random American cities at me.” The real purpose of the trip, however, was to put their school-learned Spanish to use. “As the trip went on, it was amazing to see how natural some of [the Spanish language] came,” Russell recalled.

The trip’s itinerary changed slightly this summer due to the addition of a family stay. “The family stay was one of the funniest parts because our family was really nice and took us out to a festival and basically taught us about the Spanish culture,” said Emer Martinez (‘18). The family stay also opened the students’ eyes to the cultural differences between Spaniards and Americans.

“They lived in a four room apartment with no air-conditioning,” said Russell, when asked about her host family. “It got as high as 110 degrees.”

Aside from that, however, the majority of cultural differences were positive. Martinez, who had already been fluent in Spanish, remarked on the Spaniards’ kindness. “Spanish culture was a lot like Mexican culture,” said Martinez (‘18). “All the people are super friendly and say ‘hi’ by kissing each other’s cheeks or hugging.”

In addition to improving their language skills, the students went sightseeing in major cities such as Barcelona and Seville. They explored a diverse array of edifices that included historic sites like the Seville Cathedral (where Christopher Columbus’s burial site) and newer sites like the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, which is home to the famous soccer club, Real Madrid.

“The coolest thing I saw was the Real Madrid Stadium and all of their trophies,” remembered Martinez.
The students also explored some of Spain’s smaller, lesser-known cities like Toledo and Segovia.
“[Segovia’s] everything you would imagine a small Spanish town to be,” remembered Russell. “It had the cute living center, small shops and restaurants, a town square, a cathedral, a Roman aqueduct, and a castle.” The trip was also an amazing culinary experience for the students. They got to experience paella, a famous Spanish dish, alongside various home cooked meals. Sometimes they had to order their own food in Spanish. “I got really good at ordering chocolate croissants,” remarked Russell.

Between the sight-seeing, family stays, and food, this group of BCHS students got a taste of Spain’s true, authentc culture. After their all-too-short two-week stay, the BC students flew out of Barcelona to return to Wisconsin, USA – back to their familiar lives in America.