I have mentioned in past blogs about my trip to Spain over the summer. However, I have hardly touched on one specific thing we did during the home stay. For two days, we attended the local private school in El Puerto de Santa Maria. This was a very valuable and eye-opening experience.
I was very nervous the first day we went to school because I wasn’t going to be able to go around with the little girls from my family considering they were eight and eleven. I had to be around people my own age. The school we went to was a Bi-Lingual school that focused on the teaching of English and Spanish. This was very comforting in the fact that the kids were going to be speaking English. We had a partner throughout the day and we did little activities. One little activity we did was called “Speed Dating.” This was very interesting because we got to have direct conversations with these Spanish teenagers. The instructors told us to spend half the time speaking in English and half of the time speaking in Spanish. However, if you give me the choice OBVIOUSLY I am going to choose the language I knew best. I figured, “Hey why not! It’ll be helping THEM!” When in reality, it was just easier for me!
These conversations were very interesting. Many times, the kids would swear at us trying to be funny and to show us their knowledge of American “slang.” This got annoying very quickly. Yes, I get it. You know how to swear in my language. Good for you! But many frequently asked questions were: “Do you drink?” “Do you smoke?” and “Are your parties really like they are in the movies?” This was incredibly frustrating because it makes America look bad. What are we portraying in our movies about American life for others to see? (See future blog!) In Spain, many kids start drinking and smoking at age thirteen. There are no restrictions on smoking, whether it is marijuana or cigarettes and their drinking age is sixteen, but hardly enforced. We were startled when we found this out. And the scariest thing was that the kids were not afraid to talk about it. They talked about it like it was normal. In reality though, it IS normal for them, but not always normal for us. Yes, it happens here too, we just aren’t always as aware of it. Doing this “Speed Dating” was an opportunity for us to get a quick glimpse into their lives, and it was actually really cool! I met a really cute and sweet kid named Fran (he’s a boy) who added me on Facebook later that night!
We also had to give a presentation to a class with students that were around our age. The presentation had to be about our country and state! This was a great way for the students and teachers to get to know us on a more personal level. We were able to talk about something very close and dear to us, and then we were able to give them a glimpse into our lives. This was beneficial to both us and them at the same time.
If I were able to go back to Spain, I think I would want to spend more time in the schools. I want to attend more classes and compare how they learn things and how we learn things. I think it would provide an interesting look into something not everyone gets to see. It would let us see the differences as well as similarities in two completely different countries, which would be an unforgettable experience.