Drew, Outbound to Spain

¡Hola desde España!

As the new year has started and I am switching host families soon (we get 2 host families in Spain) I thought it would be a good time to reflect on my time in Spain so far. Overall, this has been an amazing experience. I had a lot of fun with the first couple of months finding little things that were different in Spain and making a note of them. For example, all the medical buildings have a system of signs shaped like crosses to indicate their specific medical use: pharmacies usually have crosses with a green outline and a red center, while veterinarians tend to display a full royal-blue cross. One of the other small things that often interests me is the stores called “Chinos” or Chinese here (they get their name because Chinese immigrants usually run the stores.) These stores are similar to thrift stores, with large assortments of random oddities, often stacked in massive piles.

Among the small differences, there are also some pretty large changes that I have had to accustom myself to. One of these being school. My school, Bocanegra is a smaller Catholic school that hosts about 25 kids per grade from pre-k to sophomore year of high school. This means that I have a lot less kids compared to the 500 students in my grade in Florida. Luckily, this has the side-effect that I get to know everyone in my class very well. All of the students in my grade stay in one room, while the teachers switch around for the 6 periods. Also, the schedule changes every day of the week, so we have a set time table for the whole week, rather than every day. Between period 4 and 5 we have a 30-minute break to eat a sandwich or snack (you eat a full lunch after you finish school at home.) My school is slightly different and is in an old religious tower-like building, so we go to eat and spend our break on the roof.

Another major difference (that is pretty obvious) is the language. It has been interesting to watch myself develop my linguistic abilities. I still remember the first word I learned from context without translating it; “hasco” or gross, I learned from everybody shouting “Que hasco!” or how gross it was whenever one of the guys in my class burped. At this point I think that I can understand almost everything, but I still make quite a few speaking errors. One interesting tidbit: my friends tell me I have an Eastern European/ Russian accent, rather than an English or American one.

Overall, I am extremely happy here in Spain. I have made a lot of Spanish friends and I am very grateful that everyone I know here, my friends, teachers, and host family have been so open to helping me adapt and learn the culture. Thank you to the Rotary Club of Marbella and the Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach Sunset for giving me this opportunity.

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