BRITTANY'S SHORT-TERM EXCHANGE TO ALICANTE, SPAIN
Spain was the best option for me as I was learning Spanish at the time and I knew that immersing myself into a Spanish culture would definitely improve my language skills. It all happened so fast, it was all just a thought and a dream then suddenly my plane tickets arrived in the mail!
Soon I was making my way through four massive international airports and listening to people I didn’t understand, before landing in Alicante, Spain. The first thing I saw was a little white fluffy dog called Nacho wagging his tail and who was soon to be my new host mother and sister, Mayte and Elena. From the first moment I was overpowered by how fast they were talking and I did not understand a word! After spending two whole days travelling I was exhausted. I sat back in my seat and took in all the night lights whizzing past me and all the new sights that I didn’t even imagine I would see. Everything there was so different.
It felt a little bit strange to me unpacking my bags in an unfamiliar home with people that felt like strangers, it was a lot to take in. Sitting down at the dinner table, I experienced a massive wave of culture shock. Nothing I saw, felt, smelt or even tasted was familiar. But I just smiled and waved and surprisingly enough, you can communicate a lot just through body language. Soon enough it was time for my first night sleep and I was excited but nervous to see what the next month had in store for me.
I started to get used to the language much more in the next few days as I started to get more and more familiar with everything. Those Spanish lessons that I took back at home started to come into play. I started to go to school and I was amazed at the people I met and how friendly everybody was, especially the teachers. It seemed like I was a celebrity! Everyone wanted to talk to me! By the end of the first week I was even thinking in Spanish, I was truly surprised with myself!
I loved spending time with my host family, they taught and showed me so much. One of my favourite things about the Spanish culture is how close all the families are. For example, my host dad’s sister and her family lived directly above us and he continued to tell me that they even got married on the same day and we saw them almost every day as well!
Sunday was a family day, so every week without fail we would set out to a house that was located in the country and everybody would come along and dance and sing and eat, it was almost like I was living in a movie! I had so many stories to share and they had so many to share with me, we could talk the whole night and day away. That is something I will treasure forever.
I was lucky with my host family as every weekend they would take me somewhere new, like Benidorm, Altea, Madrid and many more. I became very close with my host mother Mayte. As I spent more and more time with her, I felt like she was someone I could go to if I had any problems.
Throughout the month I spent in Spain there were some pretty hard times as well. There was one week back at home where my cousin got married, it was my best friend’s birthday and one of my other family members was having her first baby. I found it quite tough to be away from home during that week. But I was also so occupied with going to school and Spanish lessons and travelling that I decided to take myself away from social media some more and learn to live in the moment some more, what more could you do really? I was on the other side of the world!
I was getting into routine near the end of the month and really knew my place in this little community I learned to know very well.
When it came to my few final days I was getting excited to come home but couldn’t imagine my life without that past month. I came home on my last night with flowers and other presents for my host mother and sister and a selfie stick for my host father.
With only staying with them for a month I couldn’t believe how attached I had become. Mayte just held me tight and I could feel the tears coming down her face. I didn’t want to show my emotion, but I quite honestly never wanted to leave. Waving goodbye at the airport was one of the hardest things I had to do.
The roller coaster of being on exchange on the other side of the world, I believe, taught me how to be a better person and how to be inspired. It motivated me and made me so eager to come back so that I could do it all over again. So much so that I nearly missed my flight because I was looking at myself in the mirror in the airport bathrooms telling myself to ‘toughen up’ because I had so many tears rolling down my face. But I don’t believe they were tears of sadness, they were tears of happiness and an overpowering gratefulness for the experience I had just been through. I will never ever forget it as it made me the person I am today.
Thank you Your Education xx
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