After Salamanca, Time to Travel

Exploring Southern Spain after a great stay in Salamanca

The last week in Salamanca was filled with lots of fun, activities, and celebrations. On Monday we joined the other Mester students to take a tour of the city followed by a tapa route. After eating lots of tasty tapas we celebrated the beginning of the week at Camelot, a discoteca.

On Tuesday, we took a Salsa class and then went on a nice relaxing walk to the river to listen to some live jazz music.

On Wednesday we went to see Spiderman in Spanish. The students seemed to really enjoy the movie night as well as lots of movie snacks. On Thursday we celebrated Kate’s 18th Birthday… congratulations Kate! We had cute cupcakes and sang happy birthday in Spanish. That evening we had an art class and the students made impressive creations out of fimo clay. Later the students met up with their language partners to practice their Spanish skills, followed by a night tour of the city. On Friday we explored the city via bike, visited the cathedral at night, and we went out for ice cream. This was an amazing last week in Sweet Salamanca. 

Traveling Time

On Saturday the Super Seven went to Segovia to visit the famous aqueduct built by the Romans. Afterwards touring the city, taking photos of the aqueduct and visiting the castle we left to visit Avilia. In Avilia we viewed the famous wall that surrounds the city. On Sunday we said goodbye to Salamanca and headed to Cordoba. After a long day of travel the students were excited to go the Arab baths to relax and rejuvenate. After the Arab baths we headed to an Arab restaurant for a delicious dinner.

On Monday we left Cordoba and headed to Granada. In Granada we went to visit the amazing Alhambra and the beautiful gardens of the Generalife. Afterwards we had a delicious dinner followed by an impressive flamenco show. On Tuesday we left Granada and headed to the beaches of Nerja. Upon arrival in Nerja the students had free time to take a dip in the sea and grab a bite to eat. In the afternoon we went to visit the Nerja caves, a truly impressive place filled with huge stalagmites and stalactites. Today we took an adventurous tour of the Maro Cliffs via Kayak followed by a free afternoon for rest, relaxation, and preparation for the next adventure. Tomorrow we will say goodbye to Nerja and head to Seville for a week of Immersion.

– Kelli McGiven, US Leader

Language Learning in Salamanca

Riding horses, cooking class, and local museums

On Monday, The Super Seven attended their first class at Mester. The first half of the Spanish class covers grammar and the second half is conversation, which gives them an opportunity to practice what they’ve learned as well as cover cultural topics. They always leave their conversation class with new colloquial words and terms that impress me. After class on Monday we joined the Salamanca 1 group and went to a Ranch to ride horses. Nikki’s ridding skills were truly outstanding. As we relaxed on the grass Bull showed his true comprehension of the Spanish “siesta” as he took a nice long nap.

Learning to prepare a traditional Spanish meal

On Tuesday and Wednesday we had a cooking class in the afternoon. Half of the group attended class on Tuesday and the other half on Wednesday. On the day the students didn’t cook they had free time to explore Salamanca on their own. During free time the girls quickly found the street that is bursting with fashionable clothing stores and they managed to indulge in some shopping. On the day the students cooked they learned how to make sangria (don’t worry it was non-alcoholic), gazpacho, tortilla Española, and traditional paella. Perhaps you can test them on their cooking skills when they return and ask them to make a Spanish meal. They have the recipes!

Exploring Salamanca

On Thursday the students had a nice relaxing afternoon at the pool and on Friday they visited the car museum and an art deco museum called Casa Lis. Friday evening they met up with language partners to practice their Spanish and take a tour of the city. On Saturday they had free time during the day. During the afternoon we joined the Salamanca One group to have a goodbye ice cream and wish them luck as they head off into their immersion week. We will see them again at the end of this week for travel in Southern Spain. We also went out with them at night to have some fun and sing Karaoke. Gabe showed us his hidden skills as he joined another student from Salamanca One to serenade us with Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. “Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, Figaro – magnifico.”

– Kelli McGiven, US Leader

Goodbye Madrid, Hello Salamanca!

Great memories in Madrid but ready for Salamanca

On Saturday the Super Seven took a guided tour of the Royal Palace, explored the Real Madrid soccer stadium and rowed boats on the lake in Buen Retiro Park. During their free time they got fresh juice at the San Miguel market place and then went out to lunch. They elected to have an authentic lunch outside on the patio and they indulged in a typical Spanish dish, Paella. This group always elects to take the more authentic route and I couldn’t be more proud of them for doing so (especially given that McDonald’s is right across the street from our hotel).

Meeting our homestay families in Salamanca

On Sunday we said goodbye to Madrid and headed via train to Salamanca. Upon arrival in Salamanca the host families were anxiously awaiting them with open arms, big smiles and the typical greeting, dos besos. One Madre even had a full head of purple hair to accompany her big smile (the students gave her bonus points for her wild hair and bright pink lipstick). After meeting their new families they went home to get settled, have dinner, and rest before beginning their language classes at Mester this week.

– Kelli McGiven, US Leader

Salamanca 2 first days in Madrid

Seeing the art and enjoying the tastes of Spain

Yes, the super seven have arrived in Madrid. The super group of four girls and three boys survived their first day in the bustling capital of Spain. They enjoyed having lunch outside on the taraza, touring the city center, cruising through the Plaza Mayor, and getting snacks at the Mercado de San Miguel. It’s very possible that the girls even did some shopping (after all it is sale time which means it’s a good time to shop). To complete our first day in Madrid we had a typical Spanish meal which; consisted of various tapas such as tortilla Espanola, papas bravas, and croquetas.

I was impressed with their willingness to try new foods and to dig into each plate. However, their jet lag began to kick in and by the end of the meal they were all ready to go back to the hotel and sleep. Dulce sueños.

Arte, Arte, Churros y Chocolate

Today The Super Seven had a big helping of art. They had the opportunity to visit the world famous art museum, El Prado. They viewed art pieces by artists such as Botticelli, Goya, and Valazquez. Afterwards, they had the chance to grab lunch and fuel up for their second helping of art at the Reina Sofia. At the Reina Sofia they viewed art pieces by Picasso, Dali, and Miro. They also viewed Picasso’s world famous La Guernica. They later had some free time to relax before going to the city center for dinner and dessert. The students went to a choclateria where they sat outside and enjoyed the fresh summer air while indulging in in traditional churros and chocolate.

– Kelli McGiven, US Leader

Ecstatic to return to Salamanca

Meet your Chaperone Kelli

Hello ECI parents and participants!

My name is Kelli McGiven and I am ecstatic to be the trip leader for the Salamanca 2 trip! I am originally from San Diego, California and have been residing in Petaluma, California for the past five years. During the school year I teach Spanish and during the Summer I have the privilege of working with ECI and traveling Spain with adventurous high school students. This summer will be the fifth trip I have embarked upon with ECI and the fourth trip to Spain. Yes, Spain is a place I love.

Falling in love with Spain

I first fell head-over-heals for this country when I was a college student and I spent one academic year studying at the University of Madrid. It was an enriching experience and ever since I’ve been addicted to the language and culture. Yes, I’ve broadened my horizons and explored other Spanish speaking countries such as, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Cuba. However, Spain will always hold a special place in my heart. As our journey approaches I couldn’t be more excited to get to know each and everyone of you as we travel Spain. If you have any questions for me, please feel free to contact me at

¡Gracias y hasta pronto!
– Kelli McGiven, Trip Leader, Salamanca 2 2012