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In February, Liskeard School & Community College hosted students from Madrid, Spain, who stayed with the families of several of our students. During their ten day visit the Spanish students attended classes with their hosts and experienced day-to-day life at home, Cornish style! Many thanks to the families who generously opened their homes to our Spanish friends.

The aim of the exchange was to create an opportunity for students at Liskeard to interact with the Spanish and to learn how life is the same and yet, at the same time, very different for students from another country. We’ve also offered Year 9 and Year 10 Spanish students the chance to experience that other life for themselves by travelling to Madrid to attend Colegio María Reina, in Aravaca, a suburb of Madrid. Clearly, they should also use the opportunity to practise and improve their Spanish!

In this first year of the exchange Aimee Barrow, Honey Bowker, Sophie Gerry, Hannah Pollard and Samantha Rowe have travelled abroad and today find themselves in lessons in Spain for the first time ever. After a late night last night, it was up bright and early this morning for a 9 am start.

Thursday, 3 April (jueves, el tres de abril)

Coral, the head teacher welcomed us to the new school. (Here you call teachers by their first name!) The girls looked completely overwhelmed by the newness of everything around them and by how quickly Coral speaks. They do understand some Spanish words and phrases but find the speed that people speak Spanish rather difficult. Never mind. You have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is usually with the few words you’re able to pick out. Little acorns.Spanish-Exchange-Trip-1

Samantha, thinking ahead, is determined to sort out her right from her left in Spanish so that she can follow instructions when she goes to riding school with her host sister, Jimena, who is a show jumper. Derecha. Izquierda. I think she’s nearly got it.

I wonder how our adventurous girls will get on with the acting workshop later today. A Spanish theatre actor is coaching them. Hannah and Sophie have already made it clear they’ll just get on with it, even though they’re not overly into their drama. This should be entertaining!

More than anything, though, Aimee and Honey were obsessed with being able to say ducha and vater (shower and toilet). I guess you need to have the basics covered.

Roll on the rest of the day!

                                                                   

Friday, 4 April (viernes, el cuatro de abril)

Toledo, here we come! We spent the day in Spain’s former capital (it was a few hundred years ago, anyway!). Because the capital was moved to Madrid, Toledo’s population never increased like it did in Madrid. This means that there are still lots of example of architecture Mudejar. Basically, in Toledo they didn’t have to tear down the old buildings and build new ones to accommodate a growing population. The Mudejar style of architecture is a mix of Moorish (Muslim) and Christian styles of design and dates back to before the 1400s. In Toledo, and across most of Spain, Muslims, Christians and Jewish lived together in peace from about 700 – 1450 AD and borrowed from each other’s cultures. The Mudejar architecture is the perfect example of this.

The weekend

If there were a competition for who crammed the most fun into a Saturday and a Sunday, I think Amie would have to win it! Rumour has it her family took her to Segovia and Avila, and she visited the Escorial Palace. Throw in a few games of paddle (a cross between squash and tennis), an amazing tan and the texts to and from her Spanish school mates, and you’d think Amie was a local! Honourable mentions do go to Samantha, who went show jump riding with her family and to Hannah who crammed in a shopping session with her host family!

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Monday, 7 April (lunes, el siete de abril)

¡Olé! We didn’t imagine the school day would include a demonstration and workshop on flamenco dancing! The spotted dress, with all its ruffles, is traditional. The more the ruffles move, the better the dancer, they say. Our girls all gave it a go, but Samantha and Honey were especially brave; they stood in the front row stomping and arm-waving for all to see. Hmmm, should I show the flamenco videos to my classes?

Tuesday, 8 April (martes, el ocho abril)

Our aching feet! A glorious 27 degrees and 10 hours out and about in Madrid. We visited Buen Retiro Park and the Royal Palace, ate tapas at San Miguel market and shopped, of course, on Gran Vía, Madrid’s Oxford Street. Don’t tell anyone, but I was the girls’ “other mother” when it came to picking out clothes! I haven’t even mentioned all the other sites and places we visited. I’ll let them tell you about it themselves. I think we all slept really well after such a busy and fun day.

Wednesday, 9 April (miércoles, el nueve de abril)

Shame! We were going to read stories in English to the pre-schoolers, but they had to cancel. Leave it for another time I suppose. It is really cool, though, that we can contribute by using our English in this bilingual school. We did have a nice time at this afternoon enjoying food and drinks with the families and students and saying our final goodbyes. I wonder what the girls did on their last evening with their families.

Thursday, 10 April (jueves, el diez de abril)

Time to head back to England! The girls have had an amazing experience. Of course, they’ve missed their families, but all of them are saying if their families could come to Spain to be with them they’d stay much longer. In fact, they’ve all bonded with their host families really well. Samantha and Honey’s host families have even invited them on a beach holiday with them this summer!

Overall thoughts, girls?

“It’s a very different lifestyle, but it was a very exciting experience and they’re all very welcoming and the boys are cute!” – Amie Barrow

“It was a very good experience because it’s a different culture to adjust to.” – Sophie Gerry

“It was a really good experience to be involved in a Spanish family’s lifestyle because you can see how their life differs from our general day-to-day life.” – Hannah Pollard       

“I don’t know… It was just really good.” – Honey Bowker

“It was really hard at first, but you were settled in by the time you went and really didn’t want to go!” – Samantha Rowe

So, overall it’s been a really positive Spanish exchange experience. Roll on the 2014-15 trip!!

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