Looking back on my time in Cádiz, I cannot help but be amazed at how much I gained in just two weeks in Spain: a greater level of proficiency in understanding the Spanish language, a more throughout understanding of Spain’s history and culture, a plethora of exciting experiences to discuss with others and countless new friends. I was able to obtain all of these things because of the distinct Abbey Road experience.
Most importantly, I feel that I am much more adept at speaking, hearing, reading and writing the Spanish language after spending two weeks in Cádiz. I experienced this improvement because of the comprehensiveness of the Spanish classes the program offers. My teacher, Celia, managed to explain new and complex concepts in vocabulary and grammar, while speaking only in Spanish. This teaching method is so much more effective and comprehensive than what is practiced in many American schools, where the teacher will teach much of the class in English. In addition, we were able to cement the skills that we had learned in the first part of class by going out into Cádiz and practicing them. For example, one day the class went over the various past and future tenses. In order to practice these concepts, we then went out into the streets and interviewed citizens of Cádiz by asking questions using different verb tenses. This exemplifies how I always felt comfortable and safe in Cádiz. I never would have been able to practice my Spanish skills in this manner back in the United States.
I also feel that I gained a more comprehensive understanding of Spanish history and culture because of my time in Cádiz. The group engaged in countless cultural activities such as taking flamenco classes, eating tapas and Churros in cafés, watching a flamenco performance and visiting Phoenician ruins. Through these excursions, I was able to truly appreciate the true uniqueness and diversity of the culture and history of Spain. In class, we frequently discussed the history and culture of Spain as well. For example, we once talked about what we had learned about the Spanish culture and how our impressions of Spain had changed during our time in Cádiz.
The home stay was vital to the cultural immersion process. I believe there is no better way to truly experience and understand the Spanish culture than to live in a Spaniard’s home. My Señora cooked us Spanish meals, introduced us to her family and discussed Spanish culture with us. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am to her for her willingness to open her home to four American teenage boys. Most importantly, all cultural excursions, and discussions were carried out in Spanish, providing us with ample time to practice our speaking skills.
I will also look back fondly on all of the adventures I had in Spain. With the group, I went whale watching on the strait of Gibraltar, went bike riding through Mediterranean salt marshes, kayaked down a salt water river and, climbed to the top of the tallest 18th century guard tower in Cádiz. I will be able to tell stories if these adventures for years to come.
Lastly, I gained many new friends on this trip. Experiencing a new country and culture with a group of people provides an inexplicable sense of camaraderie. I will make every effort in order to keep on touch with all of my friends. I cannot help but be amazed at the fact that I likely would have never met any of them had it not been for this trip. In Cádiz, I gained a greater understanding of Spanish language and culture, wonderful stories to tell and amazing friendships. I will look back on these two weeks fondly for years to come.