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Reflection on a Summer Immersion Program in Spain

The first few days I remember were the most exciting yet nerve wracking. Departure day was the most exciting day of all because although saying goodbye to our families for nearly a month was not easy, starting an adventure for which you have been planning and preparing for so long is so exciting. Traveling for two days on your own seems scary to think about but you’re really not just on your own, but with a wonderful group of people who are feeling the same things as you are. The first two travel days there were numerous thoughts going through my head and having a good group of people to talk to about it was extremely comforting. The travel days were amazing, filled with nothing but anticipation and thrilling curiosity.

When we arrived in Spain the airport was flooded with what seemed like a million smiling faces waiting to greet us. My family took me in immediately, making me feel like a true member as if it were my own home as well. I had incredibly generous host parents, (Maribel and Adolfo), a wonderful 16 year old host sister (Maria) who I spent the majority of my time with and Hector my 20 year old host brother who was absolutely hilarious. Oh and of course their adorable dog Tina. Although my host brother was older and didn’t hang out with Maria and I much, eating every meal together and calling him for rides every day grew us closer. Even though he knew like no English he would constantly try to convince me he was bilingual. In fact the only thing he really knew how to say was “typical in Spain” which I heard nearly every meal of every day. My host parents were unbelievably nice. My host dad would help teach me Spanish as well as other cool random things such as history about Spain and the cities we visited, the most recent news and what things were most popular at the time, as well as lots of astronomy! My host mom was very caring and mother-like. Almost all the mothers of Maria's friends that I met seemed like that which was very comforting. She would always ask me what I wanted to eat and if I wanted or needed anything during my stay, help me feel at home, and comfort me. At one point during my stay I came down with the stomach flu for a couple days. Normally being away from home that sick would upset me immensely but my host mom was so caring and understanding. Maria was the person I spent the most time with. We did almost everything together from waking up and eating breakfast together, getting ready for the day together while jamming to music, eating lunch with the family, going the city with friends or whatever we had planned that day, watching scary movies, having late night conversations and so much more. By the end of the trip we were such amazing friends, which I’m so grateful for!

One thing that stood out to me most was the way the day was laid out in Spain.

With my host family, and host sister, we woke up at nearly noon every day and ate breakfast, got ready and had lunch at around 4 o’clock, went out for the day after that and ate dinner at like 11:30 or 12 at night. It took a while to get used to but I love the busy night life. During my stay I met a lot of new people and saw a lot of amazing places. We would go and visit her grandparents at their house as well as family in different cities, which was such a fun and comforting experience. My host sister and I also spent lots of days hanging out and going places with friends. Maria had many, many friends which at first seemed overwhelming but ended up being great fun. One of her friends lived just a couple houses down so we would do things that were close by like go swimming and watch movies at each other’s houses late at night. Some of her friends lived in the city though so we would go visit them and do things like shop, eat out, and walk around. Meeting so many new faces, especially those who I couldn’t communicate great with, was intimidating, especially when conversations started rolling but it created the best opportunities to learn. Just listening to it that often was so educational by itself but being able to get asked questions and be involved in the conversations going on was awesome. It took me awhile to get used to the custom of greeting people by kissing them on the cheek, and I most definitely had numerous awkward encounters with people because of that but meeting so many new people was such a great learning experience throughout the trip.

Exploring new places and learning the history of Spain was also something I will never forget. My host family took me to so many different cities around Spain and gave me an amazing cultural experience at each and every one. One of the cities we visited was built in the 12th century. We went on guided tours that taught us the history of different parts of Spain. We also did lots of activities like famous water parks, concerts, parties and more.

The trip went by much too fast and saying goodbye was harder than I had ever anticipated. The first day I got there I was so unsure about it and scared, so much so that I started counting down the days till I went back home. By the end of the trip I was wanting so much more time there with the people I had come so close to. And although it went by faster than I had ever wanted hopefully I will be back again soon!

-Kelsie Bryant

For more information about our immersion programs in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries, check out these pages!
Group trip to Spain
Summer in Spain
Summer in San Sebastian
Summer in Cadiz
Summer in Tarragona
Semester or year in Spain
Programs in Spanish-speaking countries


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