They always sought the opinions of the students to be sure that we had received the chance to attend any cultural events that we had hoped to witness during the program. My host family was very warm and immediately treated my roommate and I as if we were their children. Excursions really topped of the experience because those day trips that we ventured on during weekends allowed us to see cities near Cadiz, and the short trips gave us a better understanding of the region that the Abbey Road staff had taught us about during weekday classes.
The staff members that embarked on the journey through Cadiz with us were extremely responsible yet friendly and talkative! [Our Program Directors,] Staci and Jose were always sure to explain what each day had in store for us at the daily morning meetings. They also encouraged us to submit suggestions to the staff so we could make the most of our time in Cadiz. Whenever there were local cultural events, the staff told us where they would take place and gave us the freedom to decide if we wanted to take advantage of the cultural experiences that Spain offered. Class was great.
Our teachers taught us about the history of the places that we visited and gave us the chance to converse with locals, in Spanish of course. I think that was one of the most effective and valuable parts of the system in which Abbey Road improved our Spanish proficiency. Besides simply conversing with the locals, Abbey Road travelers got a chance to totally immerse themselves in a different culture through evening activities conducted by the staff members.
My favorite activities were a bullfight in San Fernando and a flamenco performance at a restaurant called La Cava. These activities awed my friends and me, and they brought us to respect the traditions of different countries. On other nights, the staff offered more casual evening activities that allowed for the Abbey Road kids to bond with each other, such as playing soccer on a nearby beach or dining at delicious restaurants with the Abbey Road group which exposed us to traditional Spanish meals, besides the ones we had tried at our homestays. Our host families were carefully selected and made us feel at home even though we were far from our friends and families.
Staying with a Spanish family was an amazing experience because it truly improved my Spanish as I communicated with my host parents, and it gave me a chance to understand Spanish customs. My roommate and I ate the majority of our meals with our host mom which was nice because we could share the events of our day with our host mother, as we would to an actual parent, and we could ask our host mom for advice about how to take advantage of our time in Cadiz and what we could do at the towns we went on excursions to visit. Excursions were educational, and they kept our stay new and interesting by letting us discover cities in Spain aside from Cadiz.
One of my favorite day trips was a visit to Los Torunos, a national park in which we all relaxed at the beach, kayaked, and biked. Another really wonderful excursion took us to Gibraltar, an English territory with many shops and little restaurants. At Gibraltar, we hiked up the world famous rock and even got to interact with the monkeys. My trip to Cadiz through the Abbey Road program was unbelievable. By living with a host family while being taught by knowledgeable instructors, I was able to become a more confident Spanish speaker.
Highlights of my trip included evening activities and excursions with the whole group. Abbey Road opened my eyes to Spanish culture and led me to obtain a better understanding of the traditions and language that I could not have received through sitting in a classroom in America.