Gabe Perez
2011-12 Outbound to Spain

Hometown: Punta Gorda, Florida
School: Charlotte High School
Sponsor: Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, District 6960, Florida
Host: Rotary Club of Majadahonda, District 2201, Spain

Gabe's Bio

Hello everybody! My name is Gabriel Perez and I am 16 years old. I was born in Wisconsin. When in reality, I’ve moved around quite often; mostly staying in the Mid-West region. But some good did come of this; it has made me flexible, resilient, and a social butterfly which will help me when I am in Belgium. I now live in Punta Gorda, which is located in South West, Florida.

I am a junior at Charlotte High School and enjoy Drama class. I love Drama! I love plays, monologues, and musicals. I try to participate in every performance one way or another. Whether it is being an actor or being on the tech crew (those are the guys that make the actors look good). Last year, I was Potiphar in the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. This year, I had the opportunity to play the lead in a combined performance with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. I also play the violin and regularly enjoy reading and doing outdoor activities. Whenever I have time, I like to have a good workout too. Traveling and different cultures has always interested me and I look forward to experiencing another part of the world.

I would like to give a special thanks to all of the Rotarians that made it possible for me to go on this life changing adventure.

Christmas Dinner

Christmas Dinner

I am learning to play the guitar

I am learning to play the guitar

Celebrating Tio Joaquin's Birthday to the very left is my papa.

Celebrating Tio Joaquin's Birthday to the very left is my papa.

Mama and Paco

Mama and Paco

Abuelita y yo at Aranjuez, a royal palace

Abuelita y yo at Aranjuez, a royal palace

To the left is Tio Joaquin and papa

To the left is Tio Joaquin and papa

Me at the grave of the Spanish painter, Velazquez

Me at the grave of the Spanish painter, Velazquez

Gabe's Journals

October 2011

It truly has been a whirlwind since have gotten off the plane in Madrid.  My life here has changed so much but, change is good. I remember when I got off the plane and I got my baggage that I saw my host mom and bother standing at my gate with my name upside down on a sheet of paper that said Gabi. After that three weeks have gone by in a flash.

Within the first week of coming to Spain my family already was getting ready to go to a wedding in Alicante.  This was my first road trip and first wedding in Spain! It took us five hours to reach Alicante and along the way we saw five castles. I have had never seen a castle in my life until then.  Alicante is a very beautiful city on the water. It actually looks a lot like Florida because it is hot and has beaches and tons of Palm trees.

Two weeks later I went to Avila. It is a town surrounded by castle walls. When you approach the town you are greeted by walls that are 40 to 50 feet tall. It is a very awesome sight to behold and then actually going inside the castle, wow, that is a whole other story. It is one of the most incredible sights to see. I almost got lost looking at the monuments… Lucky for me Paco(my brother) was watching out for me.

My first and second days of school where probably the hardest days I have had to face so far. Let me get one thing clear so I may give the reader some perspective on why it was so hard for me the first few days of school. I SPEAK NO SPANISH. Well, then I didn’t know anything, now I speak more of it. But, when teachers are talking and sometimes yelling at you and you don’t know what in God’s name they are saying it can be quite frustrating.  But, at the end of the day being able to go home is the best thing I usually look forward to after a tough day of school. Why? Because I love my host family. They give me love a support when I feel alone and lost. So, that is why it is very important of the exchange student to form a strong relationship with his or her host family. They are your new family for better or for worse. One of the most rewarding thing for me is when I am able to sit down with my mother at lunch and talk to her in Spanish. She speaks no English. Being able to communicate successfully is probably the most rewarding thing an exchange student wants and strives for. I know that’s how I feel. Now that I am able to speak more I have made more friends and I have grown closer to my family. It is probably the most gratifying feeling to have know “Hey, I just spoke Spanish and thy actually understood me”.

Oh, I know this is off topic but, to those students who are in Florida and are studying AP Chemistry and Dual Credit Biology and think that those are hard classes. They are nothing. Try taking those classes in a foreign language you don’t understand!  But, after three weeks and day by day classes are getting easier and easier.

Well, that is all for now. Hasta Luego!

June 1, 2012

I have been living here for a little over eight months now. It is quite hard to even think that time has flown by so fast. It only feels like I have been here for four months. I can honestly say that the first three months here in Spain were the hardest months that I have ever faced in my life. I was as if I was mute and deaf at the same time. I never knew when someone was talking to me or about me. And the being mute part well, that just killed me. I love to talk and not being able to express my feelings or thoughts really stinked. That was in the past now and five months later my Spanish is much better. A few interesting things I did learn however is the importance of listing, thinking before you speak, and think about what you are going to say. Some very important life lessons.

My favorite part of Spain is the food. I am truly in love with the food. I eat by one rule: Try everything once. This has worked for me so far. There is only one food that I don’t like; mejillones or mussels. But, other than that I like everything. I have eaten Rabo de toro/ Bull’s tail, Pallea/Rice with seafood , vegetables, or any type of meat, Oro/ gold, yes I ate gold, it really doesn’t taste like anything however, Conejo/ Rabbit, Todas las partes del cerdo/ All the parts of the pig including eyes, ears, tongue, brain, and liver. But, I do have a favorite dish. It is called Pincho Moruno or in English Kebabs. This is a Moorish dish. Oh, I forgot to say I really like Moorish food too.

There are so many thing that I love about Spain. I can’t possibly list them all. I love the architecture here because it is a combination of Mediterranean and sometimes Moorish architecture which leads to some truly impressive buildings. But, more specifically I really like the Religious architecture. For me that is the most interesting aspect that the Spanish architecture has to offer. One can tell the evolution of this country and its religion by its architecture. Cool. Overall there is one fountain that I truly love it is called The Fallen Angel. It is in the Retiro Park in Madrid. Another favorite monument is a basilica which is carved into the side of a mountain. It is 20 minutes outside my hometown. There is also a cross erected on top which stands more than 450 feet high. The cross can be seen from the town. But, there is controversy surrounding this basilica because prisoners of war had constructed this and this is the tomb of General Franco. My opinion is that not all parts of history can be full of pride and happiness; there has to be dark times as well. Even though this is not brightest part of Spanish history, it is still Spanish history and should be remembered.

Here in Spain the aspect or family and being together is very important. I really like that but, sometimes it can get a little overwhelming. Sometimes. I think it is because it is a different type of family atmosphere that is here than I am accustomed. But, often times I need to remind myself the culture is different. I think also they can be so close is because their country is small. That can live by all of their family while in the US our families are all across the country. But, I truly do the family that I am living with. I have grown quite close to them.

Overall, I am having a beautiful time here. Some days are rough while most days are easy. Each day my Spanish is getting better and better. Bueno, Adios y un abrazo fuerte!