Over Spring Break 2009, I got the chance to experience a culture completely different from that of the United States by taking a trip to Spain and Morocco with a group of students and teachers from my school. When I first heard about the trip, I was so excited about going. However, my mom informed me that I would have to raise half of the money for the trip, which was going to be about $1500. The teacher that was taking our group of students worked diligently to set up fundraiser after fundraiser for the students that were going. After all the fundraisers were over, I had managed to raise almost two-thousand dollars, and my parents paid for the remainder of the trip. Looking back, I believe having to work to raise all that money by myself made me appreciate the trip even more.
My parents and I arrived at the Dulles airport around one o’clock on the afternoon that my flight left. Our group gathered in the airport, then took a trolley over to the terminal where we would board our plane. I was excited to fly, because I had not flown since I was two years old. This was also my first time going out of the country, and it made it even more adventurous that I wasn’t going with my parents.
During our time in Spain, we went to Madrid, Toledo, Seville, Granada, Costa del Sol, Cordoba, Segovia, and El Escorial. In Madrid, we got to go to the El Prado museum, and view artwork from famous artists like Goya and El Greco www.museodelprado.es. In El Escorial, we had to chance to go underground and visit the tomb where most of the Spanish royalty is buried. We also got to go to the place where Queen Isabella met with Christopher Columbus in Segovia. We enjoyed an evening of authentic Flamenco dance in Seville.
My two favorite cities were Madrid and Seville. They were both very beautiful cities and also very rich in history. I learned a lot about the country’s culture and background. For example, the Cathedral in Seville, which is one of the largest gothic cathedrals in existence, was built around the existing Muslim mosque as an emphasis of defeat to the Moors after Seville was recaptured. It is also a symbol of Seville’s wealth www.sacred-destinations.com/spain/seville-cathedral.htm.
When we went to Morocco, we toured one of the cities, sampled Moroccan cuisine, and went to an authentic Moroccan rug shop. While we were touring the cities, I saw the living conditions that some people had to suffer. The people there did not have much to call their own. They had to peddle their wares just to be able to make it through the day. They also had to know multiple languages, mostly Arabic, English, and Spanish, just to be able to communicate with their buyers. It was very sad, and it reminded me that I was so blessed to have everything that I have.
On the final night that we were in Spain, we had the experience of going to an authentic tapas bar for food and a taste of sangria, a Spanish alcoholic drink (with parental consent waivers signed, of course). We were all disappointed to have to leave. Spain was so different from the United States. Being able to go to Spain was a cultural experience that I will never forget, and I hope to be able to study there during my college career.
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