Spanish students enjoy Spain Trip


Zahra Ahmed, Staff Writer

Sophomore Ramona Johnson finds herself walking around in a new place in the midst of a culture she has only heard about. Johnson and 40 other Spanish students spent their Spring Break this year in Spain, getting a first hand experience of the language and culture they’ve been learning about.

“We always only hear each other talk and we all have very American Spanish accents and hearing someone with an actual Spanish accent and being able to actually interact with them just helped in learning Spanish,” Johnson said. “[Spanish culture] is just something you wouldn’t understand unless you’ve been there.”

Spanish teacher Ms. Beth East believes this experience goes hand in hand with learning the language.

“I teach the language and the culture together because you can’t do one without the other,” Ms. East said. “I embody the culture of Spain and Spanish speaking countries in my curriculum throughout levels. They see [the culture] kind of come alive when they get to Spain, so [the trip] is just a continuation of the curriculum really.”

For senior Zahra Kadwalwala, it was a reassurance of her Spanish skills.

“I think that being put in a place where they don’t speak the language you’re comfortable with helps show you that you know more Spanish than you think,” Kadwalwala said.

The trip not only taught Kadwalwala about Spain but also about herself.

“I learned a lot about the culture as well as my own time management skills and ability to be independent,” Kadwalwala said.

Time management played a significant role in this trip as the Spanish schedule of business is much different than that in America.

“They start their days at around 9 a.m.; we go to school at 7:30 a.m. but for them it’s maybe 9:00 a.m.,” Johnson said. “It’s normal to be up at around the city until about 1-2 a.m.”

For the most part, the trip was the same as it had been in past years.

“It was just another successful wonderful trip,” Ms. East said. “I had the same tour guide that I’ve requested the last four tours.”

However, there was a minor difference. The plan to visit Morocco was cancelled because of petty crime in the area, but students were able to visit other places in Spain instead.

“They actually went into the countryside in the south and went to an olive oil factory and saw the process and how it’s made,” Ms. East said. “They tasted the different olive oils like the extravagant freshly pressed olive oil. They loved it. It was so cool.”

Students then went to a farm and saw gardens and crops and were invited into different homes.

“The mothers prepared an authentic lunch for them with all the different flavors of andelucias so the kids loved it,” Ms. East said. “It was a really authentic experience.”

The food was a large part of the students’ experience in Spain.

“My favorite part of the trip was definitely the food because it was awesome and a major part of the culture there was the food,” Johnson said. “That was a very different experience that we wouldn’t be able to have anywhere but Spain.”

Kadwalwala agrees.

“Some of the food was interesting,” Kadwalwala said. “I had Bull’s tail and grilled squid for lunch. It was amazing.”

Ms. East noted the students’ excitement with pleasure.

“[The kids] were really just happy to be there and excited to learn about the Spanish culture and see the beautiful places that we were going to,” Ms. East said. “The best part is really taking the students and having them see it for the first time.”

Johnson believes the trip went well overall.

“I thought it was an irreplaceable cultural experience,” Johnson said. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It was pretty fantastic.”

Although it was an enjoyable experience, this may have been the Ms. East’s last trip abroad with students.

“It’s 20 years now that I’ve been taking students abroad, and I think that was my last trip,” Ms. East said. “I’m ready to have my own spring break. I love it but I realized that after 20 years I’m a little bit tired; I don’t have the youth that I used to have.”

It may have been her last trip with students, but Ms. East plans to continue traveling.

“I looked at it as maybe my last trip taking students abroad but definitely not traveling; I’ll always travel and encourage kids to travel,” Ms. East said. “[With students] it was awesome but it’s a lot of work.”