Looking back, it feels fleeting – like it never happened. At first, I thought this was a little disturbing because, after all, it did happen. But eventually, I came to terms with this because now I can always remember Spain as something beautiful. Almost from the start, I knew Abbey Road was a good choice. As early as the airport we saw several other group programs that were panicking and herding their kids, but Abbey Road kept us all together while allowing us enough freedom to explore on our own.
Throughout the program, they continually gave us options on how to spend our time. Even though we were allowed to freely roam Old Cadiz, I never once felt unsafe; the city is perfect for foreigners trying to get a feel for Spanish life without the threat of theft or other annoyances. For the most part, we were treated as adults, and it was much appreciated. I enjoyed my Spanish language class much more than I thought I would. Going into the program, I thought of the class as something I would simply have to put up with in exchange for my time in Spain. But from the very first class, I was impressed by how fun and interactive it was.
Our teacher Raquel spoke clearly about interesting topics and got us involved in the everyday life of Cadiz. Our daily trips to the market or La Caleta or other various parts of town were both educational and enjoyable. It’s a lot easier waking up for school in the morning when you know you have that to look forward to.
My homestay family was wonderful. They were the cutest couple and the mother was so talkative, so it was easy to pick up Spanish from her. They were welcoming, trusting, and respectful of our boundaries. They would show us around town and introduced us to their family and friends, all of whom were just as open as our family. If anything was disappointing about my home-stay experience, it would be that I didn’t get more time with them.
But by far, the best thing about Spain was the people. From the staff to the Spaniards to the friends I made, everyone was unforgettable. The staff, especially the assistants, were so down to earth and fun on an individual level. They would give us tips on everything from where to get the best food to where to find the best local hangouts. The Spaniards themselves were often very understanding of our sometimes lacking Spanish.
Despite communication barriers, most people were receptive to our questions and tried to help us understand the Andalusian culture. My favorite people were all my friends on the trip. It’s amazing how you can know someone for two weeks and be so close. By the end of the trip, everyone had become a sort of family away from home. The hardest part about leaving Spain was most definitely leaving the people. Even though I’m back to everyday life again, I can still look back fondly on my Spanish dream. When I got home, someone asked me if I would do the trip again. I said “yes” without hesitation.
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