Hola desde España!

Ready for the weekend after a great first week in Salamanca

This week students moved in with their Salamanca host families and have starting learning more about Spanish culture. This also includes important time to practice their Spanish skills with them.

According to roommates Delaney & Stephanie, “Spain is an adventure! We really love the tapas. They’re great for sharing with a big group of friends!”

Activities this week included:

– Touring the towering cathedral (construction was completed in the 14th century) and walking up its narrow winding staircase to the top, which overlooks the best of Salamanca.

– Taking a flamenco dance class and learning when to stomp and clap to the traditional music from the south of Spain.

– A salsa dance class was great, too. There was a very different beat, but we all learned some great dance steps!

– Meeting up with our Language Partners to further practice Spanish and learn more about the fantastic city of Salamanca.

– Visiting the bull ring to learn more about the world of bullfighting from a local matador. He then showed us then ins & outs of using his cape in the ring.

Tomorrow, Saturday, we head to the city of Segovia to visit the very old Roman aqueduct. A local guide will tour this charming city with us. We can also visit the Alcazar castle, which has been attributed with the inspiration for the Disneyland castle!

As you can see, we are having a great time. Included are some photos of us touring around Madrid and Avila. I will write again soon!

Hasta pronto,

– Jennifer Brown, U.S. Chaperone, Salamanca 3

Gracias San Sebastian & Hola Madrid!

Our immersion week in San Sebastian has been fantastic! I’ve had the chance to speak to all of the students this week and all have been in agreement about how much fun they have had getting to know their families. Our favorite princesa, Hailey, even celebrated her 17th birthday here in San Sebastian! There have been beach visits, get-togethers, horseback riding, shopping expeditions, big family gatherings, outings with friends, trips to the movies, and most of all a true immersion into family life and culture… and lots and lots of Spanish practice!
 
Goodbyes to families tomorrow will be bittersweet as the group once again reunites to board the bus for Madrid! Once in Madrid we will check-in to our hotel and then visit the Royal Palace (the White House for the Royal Family of Spain). Students will then have free time for last minute purchases before gathering for our farewell dinner. Monday we say goodbye to Lauren and Sofia who stay in Madrid for a couple more days and the rest of the group head to the airport to take off for home! 
 
As I sign off, let me say how much I have enjoyed getting to know this amazing group of students. Rarely have I traveled with such mature, independent and outgoing teens! 
 
Goodbye from Spain!
 
– Jennifer Brown, U.S. Chaperone, Salamanca 3

Saying Farewell to Salamanca!

Ready for our True Immersion Week in San Sebastian

These last days have been a whirlwind and a lot of fun. I am including photos of the cooking class from this week. As you can imagine, the food we made was amazing!

We say farewell to two members of our group: Chelsea Watson, a student who is returning to the U.S. tomorrow. We will miss her sunny disposition! And we say hasta luego to lovely Ana Garcia, our Local Spanish Leader, who is working now in the south of Spain. As a goodbye to them, let me share this quote from Chelsea, “Salamanca is like a beautiful pearl you find inside a closed oyster… in your paella. And, yes, all the calamari are my friends.”

Final weekend in Salamanca

We are into our final weekend here in Salamanca as we wrap things up and head north to San Sebastian on Sunday 7/31. We will spend a week there as each student lives full-time with a Basque family for a full immersion experience. We will reunite as a group on 8/7. Once reunited after the immersion, we will head to Madrid to enjoy some final sightseeing before taking off the following morning for home.

Beautiful San Sebastian

The picturesque city of San Sebastian is one of my personal favorites, located just miles from the French border in the Basque region. I will be in touch regularly with the group, will be in the area, and the students all know they can reach me at any time by phone.

So, as a final farewell to this wonderful city, ECI is taking students out for tapas tonight! ¡Delicioso! I will take a break from writing the blog next week while students are doing the immersion, as everyone will be involved in different activities with their immersion families. I’m signing off for a bit.

¡Hasta Pronto!

– Jennifer Brown, U.S. Chaperone, Salamanca 3

¡Nos encanta Salamanca!

More fun studying abroad in Spain

Everyone is having a great time! Lots of great activities happening here along with warm and breezy temperatures. The group is terrific and we are so enjoying getting to know them!

Visiting Segovia

The weekend kept us busy as we took a day trip to the famous Spanish town of Segovia. Along with a guide we explored and learned about the very old, enormous Roman aqueduct and its history. It remains in perfect condition and still functions today.

Then on Sunday, we met up and then headed to the local open air market where we all picked up fun trinkets, clothes, and a souvenir or two. Since it was hot out the group headed home for lunch and a siesta all afternoon. We wrapped up the evening by meeting up with our Language Partners for conversation practice and a tour of Salamanca at night with all of the incredible monuments illuminated.

Horseback riding

This week we also headed to a beautiful ranch where we went horseback riding, swimming & tanning at the pool, kicked around a soccer ball and even played a little golf. The ranch raises horses, sheep, and bulls. We were treated  wonderfully by the owners who spent the afternoon with us around the pool. No one wanted to leave. It was a great day!

Yesterday we stuffed ourselves silly with paella, tortilla de patatas, and gazpacho at the cooking class. Everyone jumped in and helped chop veggies, saute, and beat eggs to create the meal. We then all sat down to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Everyone is taking home a packet of the recipes to try at home.

I’ll check in one more time before we leave on Sunday for San Sebastian to meet our immersion families!

¡Chao!

– Jennifer Brown, U.S. Chaperone, Salamanca 3

Exploring Madrid with Salamanca 3

Hello family and friends of Salamanca 3 students,

This is Jennifer writing, the U.S. chaperone for the group. I work together with Ana, my Spanish counterpart, to make sure the students have a fantastic trip! Our wonderful group of ten students all spent a whirlwind couple of days in Madrid enjoying the sights, while catching up on sleep after the long flight.

First day in Madrid

Our first day in the capital took us to the Real Madrid soccer stadium to the view the grounds of this world class soccer team. We got to see a lot behind the scenes, from the locker rooms and numerous trophies to stepping onto the actual playing field.  That night we toasted to our trip together in Spain over a delicious tapas dinner featuring local specialties: tortilla de patatas, jamon serrano, calamares, and queso manchego, to name a few. ¡Delicioso!

Visiting El Prado and Retiro Park

The following day we headed out for a day of art and cultural. We started the day at El Prado museum with a guided tour highlighting the art of Diego Velazquez and Francisco Goya. We then took a stroll through El Retiro Park and then the students went out in groups for lunch, practicing their ordering skills in Spanish. The next visit was to the Reina Sofia Museum with another favorite tour guide, who brought to life the works of Salvador Dali and Joan Miro. We also learned in depth the meaning behind Pablo Picasso’s striking piece “Guernika.”

First days in Salamanca

After some free time Sunday morning for exploring, we packed up and left Madrid to head towards Salamanca, our host town of the next two weeks. We made a visit to the walled city of Avila, where students were able to explore and enjoy this very charming historic city. Next stop was Salamanca, where students were met by their host families who took them home to get settled in, have dinner, and to get ready for Monday morning Spanish classes. Monday students met up with their Language Partners (local university students) for continued conversation practice and to learn more about life here in Salamanca.

We have much planned for the students, and I will write again soon with more details!

¡Hasta pronto!

– Jennifer, U.S. chaperone, Salamanca 3