Spain trip gives students insight to diverse experiences, culture

Taking+in+its+rustic+beauty%2C+students+visit+the+Catedral+de+Barcelona+in+their+first+day+in+the+city.+Construction+of+the+cathedral+began+in+1298+and+is+still+in+progress+today%2C+according+to+catedralbcn.org.

Photo by Ashley Kulberg

Taking in its rustic beauty, students visit the Catedral de Barcelona in their first day in the city. Construction of the cathedral began in 1298 and is still in progress today, according to catedralbcn.org.

Nearly two dozen seventh and eighth graders woke up with joy on March 17, knowing their vacation to Spain was about to begin.

“This is the fourth year we’ve taken kids to Spanish speaking countries,” Christina Donnelly, Spanish teacher, said. “They are immersing themselves into a unique culture, and I’ve found that they can learn so much better in that setting.”

The tour group saw many unforgettable sights, such as the Park De La Ciutadella in Barcelona, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, and snow on top of mountains in Mongrovejo.

“The reason I went to Spain was to explore different cultures out of America, and we definitely accomplished that,” Kylie McKenna, eighth grade visual major, said.

Along with the culture shock experienced by most of the students came the distinctive food of the region, which gave students the chance to eat out of their comfort zones. They tried food indigenous to the area.

“We ate intestines, blood sausage, little octopus, and sardines,” José Echezarreta, Spanish teacher, said. “You really get to compare and contrast it with your own way of living.”

Students used the skills they learned in Spanish class to communicate with Spanish locals, buy souvenirs, and figure out directions. The trip allowed them to get a more hands-on experience with the language than they would normally get in a 90 minute class period.

“There are certain things you just can’t learn in a classroom, you have to live them,” Donnelly said.

The only regret many students had was that they wished they could have explored more of Spain than they did in the week they visited.

“We only got to see some of Spain,” Echezarreta said. “There are still hundreds of towns we haven’t seen. I wish we could go back and see more of the country.”

The day the students’ trip was supposed to end, a cancelled flight due to a mechanical problem on the plane caused the group to stay in Madrid an unexpected extra night.

“Our flight being cancelled wasn’t such a bad thing,” Grace Johansson, eighth grade theater major, said. “After all, I’d rather stay overnight than fly home on a broken plane.”

When the travelers finally got home, a day later than planned, they had many memories to remind them of their trip.

“Traveling makes you more intelligent, knowledgeable, and wise,” Echezarreta said. “You earn your wisdom by living, exploring, and being in contact with different cultures.”