Student Exchange in Spain | My Family Travels
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Andreas_camera_031

I am absolutely terrified of meeting new people at anything other than a snail’s pace. This is why, when it came to living with a family I had never met before, – in Spain, no less – I had a tiny problem making the transition from extreme nerves to excitement about the prospects of my journey.

I boarded the airplane with thirteen other students from my high school, a rather large percentage of which were some of my closest friends. I had them and the first three days of our trip to take my mind off of meeting my new family. Before we traveled to Valladolid, where the Garcías lived, we would stop in the city of Valencia to do a little sight-seeing on our own. Our teachers had booked a guide named Fran to lead us around on our itinerary.

I immediately fell in love with Valencia. The city was absolutely beautiful. While we were there to experience the Spanish city life, this was also our main shopping spot during the trip. Normally shopping bores me, but in Spain I was glad to go souvenir hunting for my family. In Valencia I bought my older, comic-loving brother a Spiderman graphic novel translated into Spanish, and for my younger brother, a designer t-shirt that was far more expensive than any article of clothing I’ve ever bought myself.

After three days of this, it was finally time to get on the bus to Valladolid, where real Spanish life awaited us. My heart pounded, and the hydrochloric acid swishing around in my stomach was highly overactive.

There was much confusion when we arrived; it seemed relatively impossible to locate our respective families and then find the suitcase that belonged to us. With much apprehension I made my way through the crowd and found a girl named Laura holding up a big sign with my name on it. I performed the traditional Spanish greeting with my family. We then rolled my suitcase along two streets, into an elevator, and on into number 5 on the third floor. On the way, I talked about what else, but how the trees in America and Spain differ. This was the incident that, in their eyes, cemented me as obsessed with trees.

I was also forever doomed to be known as a finicky eater. I’m not huge on meat other than spicy chicken, and to their confusion, I don’t like lettuce but I like salad. Unfortunately I don’t really like salad either, but I was starting to feel self conscious, and I’ll eat salad if I have to, so I said yes to that question. This was only the beginning of my bad food experiences over there, one of which involved a ridiculously gigantic spoon that I couldn’t fit my mouth around properly. However, there existed the chocolate spread sandwich, which I promptly fell in love with. (My tongue is a strange beast; it enjoys extremes: super spicy, super sour, super sweet.)

During my time in Spain I went to school with Laura. We also took day trips to different cities and other worthy sites, along with roaming Valladolid at night. I loved Madrid, mostly because of El Prado, but one of my favorite days was the one I spent with my family and their extended relatives. The Garcías tailored the day to my interests; we spent it exploring old, crumbling castles and looking at trees. Whether on an adventure like this, or just sitting on the couch with my mother, trying to catch the part of “Fama” where the contestants actually dance, I felt at ease.

 

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