Skip to main content

3 Unforgettable Weeks in Spain

Going to Spain from June 24 to July 17 was the scariest, craziest, most incredible thing I've ever done. Prior to this trip, I had never been outside of the country, and even though going on exchange was going to be really out of my comfort zone, I was so excited. 
I was exhausted the first day to say the least. The night before, I couldn't sleep. I got MAYBE three hours of sleep because I was so nervous. On the first flight, I slept for about an hour, and the second not at all. So in the span of three days, I was running on about four hours of sleep! I was on such an adrenaline rush though, it was fineI was just very mentally drained and nervous. 
I had texted my host sister and my host mom about two weeks before we left, so I had kind of a sense of what they were like, which was very nice. If you're planning on going on exchange, I highly recommend reaching out to your host family before you get there! It definitely makes the transition into their family smoother. It’s also very important to remember that they want you there as much as you want to be there! 
My three host sisters and my host dad picked me up from the airport while my host mom was at work. For the first few days I was extremely confused and completely overwhelmed. But you get used to it, and you can't let it get you down. I was constantly meeting new people, giving so many kisses on cheeks, trying new foods, and discovering things about Spain’s culture. By the end of my trip, I had fallen in love with Spain and never wanted to leave.
When I’m asked about my favorite thing from Spain, I can never give a straight answer because it was all the best I could’ve imagined. The people were so welcoming and kind. The friends I met and my host family 100% shaped my entire experience. I was included just like I’d always been there. Like I was a part of the friend groups and the family. It’s quite the feeling. I am so lucky to have had the host family I did. I will never be able to thank them enough. My host sisters (Irene- 17, Cristina- 14, and Marina- 10) and I each got along very well and formed great relationships. They took me everywhere and taught me more than I ever thought I’d learn. 
The food was also superb: tortilla española and jamón iberico were my favorites. I promised myself to try all the food I could, and I did. I’d also highly recommend palmerascafé con leche, and bizcocho. The Italian food in Spain is pretty great too. I will never be able to shake how stunning Spain is, either. My host family took me to several cities including Madrid, Segovia, Arenas de San Pedro, and to lots of other unfathomably beautiful places, museums, palaces, landmarks, and much more. Just the beauty and the history of the streets blew my mind. Madrid will always have a place in my heart. 
I also made two Oregonian friends, Porter and Iris, through the ANDEO program, and I am so grateful for them. We were assigned as roommates at our orientation for our Spain trip, and we became friends so fast. They helped me through the hard times of this trip and celebrated the best times with me. It was wonderful to have two friends going through the same crazy, life-changing experience with you at the same time. They’re amazing people that I wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for this trip. Again, I’m so lucky.
As far as advice goes, I have a few tips:
  • First, you might not have the language down very well, but have confidence. You know more than you think, and it's amazing how much you learn while on exchange, even if just for three weeks. When you start thinking in half of the language you’re learning and half English, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. 
  • Take in every sight, and take SO many pictures! I still can't get over how beautiful absolutely everything was in Spain. Like nothing I've ever seen before, it was magical. 
  • Speak. A lot. That’s the only way to get better, and you’re completely expected to mess up. Do it.
  • Keep a journal and write down everything. I mean everythingfrom the best things to the worst things, new words you learn, your thoughts, your plans, the new foods you try, and even songs that will remind you of your trip. 
  • My biggest piece of advice would be to take every opportunity you are offered. This is truly what made my time so wonderful. I learned to say yes even when I didn't feel like it. Sometimes that led to the best memories with new friendships, new places, and experiences. 
If you ever get the chance to go on exchange, take it. It is more than worth it.
-By Hailey Seaman


Popular posts from this blog

Tips for Teens Traveling Independently

Many of our programs allow you to choose your own program dates, flights, and length. Some advantages to this are that families have control over booking flights and are able to use frequent flyer miles. One challenge, however, is that students must travel independently to their program destinations. Some teens are understandably nervous about flying alone.  Here are some tips to help teens and parents feel more at ease about traveling internationally without a chaperone or flight leader. Before booking your ticket Check with us before booking your ticket to see if anyone else from your area will be attending your program at the same time. We can put you in contact with one another. Booking your ticket Whenever possible, choose a direct flight. Fewer fights mean fewer opportunities for flights to be delayed or for other problems to arise. If a direct fight is not possible, choose a flight that stops or makes connections in the United States. Whenever possible, stick with t

How to Write a Letter to Your Host Family

The letter to your host family is one of the most important pieces of your program abroad application; it’s the host family’s first impression of you. Exchange programs take many factors into account when matching you with a host family, but ultimately it’s up to the host family to decide whether to host you or not. Here are a few helpful tips to writing a great letter to your future host family: Use a positive tone. “The main reason a student’s dossier is passed over by families is unintentional negativity,” explains Rebecca Gundle, Program Coordinator for ANDEO International Homestays. A student might be trying to explain her preferences, but when she devotes equal attention to describing her dislikes, she comes across as negative or picky. A family wants to know that the student they host will be adaptable and willing to try new things. Keep your tone upbeat and positive. Go deeper than the application form. Try to avoid simply reiterating what is on the form. This is a c

From Guest to Family- All in 48 Hours

by Judith,  Immersion in France , 2016 The first 48 hours of your time abroad will probably be the most exciting of your entire stay. There is so much to discover, so much to explore, so much you don’t know about…These first two days are filled with emotions: you may be a little anxious and worry that your second language is not good enough. You may be struggling to fit in and overwhelmed by everything new you discover. As my own day of departure for France drew near, I wondered what my upcoming trip would be like. I wanted to know what it is like to meet a complete stranger. I wanted to know what it would be like to speak French all day long. Most of all, I wanted to know what my host family would be like.I hope to be able to help you answer these questions and ease a bit of your anxiety. What is it like to meet a complete stranger? First of all, you probably won’t be meeting a complete stranger. You’ll be meeting someone you know is interested in getting to know you and you