Last month, a group of 12 students from Friends Academy packed their bags and hopped on a plane to Spain. It was a memorable trip and part of FA's student exchange program with a school in Málaga. Last November, the Spanish students stayed here before our visit to them last month. I was happy to be among the students who made the week-long trip, and I can honestly say that it was life-changing.
Our group visited incredible places such as Granada and Ronda. While the sightseeing and exploring was beautiful, the most exciting thing about the trip was experiencing first-hand the fascinating differences between our daily lives and theirs. For example, the kids in Málaga live not unlike the city kids in New York; in order to get where they want to go, they walk. Differentl from here, it is uncommon for them to meet at someone’s house. Rather, when they want to meet up with their friends, they do so in the center of Málaga. And when they do meet up with their friends, they like to stay up late…and not just 9:00 at night late. At 11:30 at night, they are still wide awake and eager to have fun. Also, the food! There are many delicious foods that are typical to Málaga such as Paella and fresh pescado.
The trip to Spain offered a new perspective and insight into the Spanish culture and language that one can never get inside the walls of a classroom. I asked a student who went on the trip, Uma Alagappan, what she thought about the experience, and she said, “I am so glad that I got the chance to both embrace Spanish culture and practice speaking Spanish with my friends.”
So, if the opportunity to participate in an exchange program or to study abroad is presented to you, seize it! By putting yourself in a place where the language you are learning is spoken, you become completely immersed into the language in a way that makes learning fun and quite frankly, natural. Also, by staying with a family, you get a new, and more personal viewpoint into their culture and history. A big thank you to Mrs. Bevad for organizing the trip and to Mrs. Hall and Mr. Posada for being patient chaperons!
Here are some of the pictures I gathered from the trip (please excuse the blurriness of some of the pictures):
From left to right: Ella Fitzhugh, Sharothy Mahmud, Gail Saez-Hall, Uma Alagappan, Jillian Broderick, Jocelyn Cedeño, Owen Ingrassia, Tyler Hu, David Kaler, Mikey Kaler, Aaron Daniels, and Cal Stellato
All of the students in the exchange!