For ten days over spring break, I went with ten of my classmates to visit and explore Madrid. It was an incredible experience that I know none of us could ever forget. We lived, studied, and had fun with our host sisters and their families and friends, and I know that we all learned a lot from them.
It was amazing from the moment that we touched down in the airport. Meeting my host family was exciting, and throughout the rest of the trip whenever I saw other Madeira girls we were thrilled to swap stories about the interesting and hilarious things that had happened to us with our host families. The school that we attended classes at, Jesus Maria Juan Bravo, was beautiful, and the faculty was more than welcoming. It is nestled into the vibrancy of Madrid, just a moment (or a short Metro ride) away from the million exciting things there are to do there – shopping in Gran Via, exploring and taking photos in Old Madrid, and visiting historic landmarks.
We were kept extremely busy throughout the break, and every day was a new experience. We were lucky enough to receive a tour in the Royal Palace and learn all about the history of the nobility in Spain – a country with a fascinating history stretching back thousands of years. We visited the Museo del Prado and were able to see famous paintings like Las Meninas and El Jardin de las Delicias up close. We were also able to see fascinating modern pieces in the Museo de la Reina Sofia, including the Picasso piece Guernica. We walked, discovered, and shopped until we dropped; and then we headed back to spend the evenings with our host families, who took us out for traditional Spanish food and showed us the hilarious and wacky Spanish TV shows.
Visiting Toledo was the highlight of my experience, and I know it was the same for many of my classmates. The city was breathtaking, but it was also much more than that. It was the result of a confluence of religions, cultures, and ideas; we could see it in the architecture and hear it in the history. We learned the stories of Toledo from the histories set down by its people, in their synagogues, mosques, and churches.
One of the things I heard the most on this trip, coming from my own mouth and from the mouths of my classmates, was: “I can’t wait to come back and do this again!” Visiting Spain was an incredible experience, and it inspired me and my classmates to travel, learn, and have fun – in Spanish and in English.