I had the amazing privilege to be part of Iberdrola, an exchange program to Madrid, Spain. The exchange program was designed for American and Scottish teens to fly out to Madrid to spend two weeks with a Spanish teen they were paired up with. They noted that I was extremely well rounded, and an excellent student, therefore, I was selected to be part of the program. Each day was spent with the Spanish boy/girl in the Iberdrola meeting place; we completed activities with the group who was staying in the same city as my host family. After the two weeks in Spain, we returned to our houses and our Spanish friends came to America to live with us. I was given the great opportunity to experience new customs and new cultures.
The exchange program to Madrid was absolutely life changing. It was an amazing opportunity that changed me for the better. I was very nervous at first, being so far away from my family, although this activity was a priority to me. I had to overcome my fear. Before boarding the plane at the Rochester airport, nerves rushed throughout my body. I had to make these people in the program, who I had never seen before in my life, my new friends. I am generally very good at meeting new people, the fact that I would be leaving the country, and spending two weeks with some of them, was the hardest part. Even with the horrible jet lag, and exhaustion when my Spanish match, Sara Rodriquez greeted me in Madrid’s airport. Everything went smoothly, and I felt relieved. Right then I knew that I had overcome my fear, completing my priority.
Living in Spain with a Spanish family for two weeks of summer, it is hard to find a word to describe just how it feels, the excitement for each day learning new things which are so different to my American life. I was nervous, to try the new food, that was not always appetizing to me. For example, they add egg to every meal, and their typical Spanish food is jamon, raw pork. But I always tried everything. Last but not least I would have to say sheer amazement. Some of the things I saw made me appreciate my life even more than I already do. For example, realizing that families, including aunts, uncles, and cousins all have to live in a 2 bedroom apartment, due to lack of money. Another example would be where I grew up, in Alfred NY; it was very tranquil, versus the chaos of the city. The exchange program was very important because it changed the way I look at the world.
When the exchange program came to a close, I was sad that there was a huge chance, I would never see my Spanish girl, Sara again, but I honestly, was also relieved. Living with a stranger, who does not speak the same language as you is very different. I love her, it does not matter what language she speaks. The Iberdrola Exchange Program was a feared task that I knew I had to overcome. My priority at seventeen was to grow out of my fear of being so far away from home. However, the program didn’t only help me overcome my fear; it also helped me value what I have, and where I live.
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