I must admit that arriving to my gate at the airport amd seeing faces I have never seen before was a terrifying moment. I was extremely nervous and I had no clue what to expect for the summer. I had read countless blogs from previous students who went to San Sebastián, Spain, but I still did not know what my life was going to be like for a month living away from home. Regardless of these uncertainties, I got on the plane and headed to Madrid.
Within a short period of time, I fell in love with the country.
My host family I stayed with consisted of a couple originally from Peru with two children, ages fifteen and twenty-one. They also had a pet bunny that apparently moved to France to live with family halfway through our trip, and a loud yet adorable dog. The first two weeks, I didn’t talk very much. I had only had a year of Spanish before the trip, so I didn’t really know what to say. However, the last two weeks, I was able to communicate much better. I loved staying with a homestay because I was able to have experiences like watching The Simpsons in Spanish with my host sister, or having discussions about celebrities with my host mom.
The activities planned for us in the afternoons were very enjoyable. We got to participate in activities such as surfing, hiking, going to the beach, dancing (Spanish zumba is very entertaining), pinxto eating, cooking, exploring other cities, and even watching a Spanish movie at the movie theater! The excursions we had on Saturdays were probably my favorite. We went to cities like Biarritz, Pamplona (for San Fermín), and Bilbao
The friends that I made studying abroad were incredible. Students traveling with SPI come from all over the nation, and even the world. I made some friends who live twenty miles away from me, and I made friends who live thousands of miles away. By the end of the month, our group all became really tight-knit. Saying goodbye was a difficult thing to do. One of my friends that went on Summer 1, Sydney, lives all the way in Kentucky. We met at the Dallas airport and got along from the start. Several weeks after the trip, we are still having entertaining conversations about our hometowns.
I gained a significant amount of confidence and independence on this trip. If you are reading this and debating whether or not leaving behind your life for a few weeks is worth it, it absolutely is.
About the Author: Sarah Iannelli is a 10th grader from Fort Worth, TX. She discovered her love of travel in 8th grade when she took a school trip to China with her mom. Sarah traveled to San Sebastián, Spain with SPI for a month this past summer.