What My School Day Looks Like in Spain


At the end of my last post I played with the idea of including a part about having finished my first month abroad. I decided against it because I was one or two days short. Ever since I’ve been putting off writing because I wanted a nice round amount of time to write about. So, today, I can proudly write that I have been in Spain for seven weeks.

And seven weeks is not a short amount of time. There have been wars shorter than that before. (Trust me, I do my research). I am about a third of the way through my time here! On the other side of things, I still have three full months to explore and enjoy this beautiful country. Time flies though. Well, it flies sometimes. It crawls during Philosophy class…and Economy.

What have I been up to? A little bit of everything. My life is definitely getting more of a rhythm and a routine at this point. The word ‘routine’ often is connotated with ‘boring,’ but I assure you, that is not the case. I am constantly surprised by each day even if it’s just one thing. So the past few weeks hasn’t been full of lots of major events but rather lots of cool small events.


This is my school in Spain.

A few weeks ago I went on a day trip to Madrid with my school. This sounds simpler than it really was. Because Madrid isn’t “day trip” distance. At least not in my opinion. It is a five hour drive, ten hour round trip. Which means we left a little before six in the morning. Luckily, we had a nice, comfortable bus. In fact, bright yellow school buses just don’t exist here like in the U.S. We even watched three movies during the trip. We also stopped halfway through each way for a little break.

In Madrid we went to a University Fair. There was tons of stands and information about education. Us students were free to walk around and check everything out. Most of the information didn’t really include me as I’m not a citizen of Spain nor am I planning on attending college here. However, I learned a lot about the education system and what my friends plan for the future. It was all interesting.

Eventually, we regrouped and went to a shopping mall where we wandered store to store for two hours. We also went to the food court and had McDonalds. My town doesn’t have any large brand fast food places so whenever we leave town we end up stopping by a McDonalds. To my disappointment the “Shamrock Shake” does not exist here. It’s definitely something I’m missing out on this St. Patrick’s day. (I suppose I’m missed out on St. Patrick’s day entirely as it’s not widely celebrated here.) Our day came to a close after arriving back to school after one in the morning. My day ended up being 21 hours long. However, it was well worth it. I got to spend the day getting to know my classmates better. Also how many foreigners get to see a University Fair in Spain?

This past weekend my lovely host family and I also visited a neighboring area. We drove through the countryside for around an hour down winding roads. There’s two type of roads here: the kind that cut through the country, have tunnels through mountains and are very straight, or the kind that were built around the countryside, winding in and out of hills, sometimes near cliff edges.

Our first stop was an old mine. The rocks were stained black from iron in some parts. There were little paths that lead through narrow gaps in rocks. The water was a sort of greenish-blue color and pooled at the bottom of the cliffs. There was also remains from the miner’s old houses and equipment. Afterwards we went to a restaurant that was down more narrow, dirt roads and was- in absence of better words- in the middle of nowhere. The food however, was delicious.


Later we went to yet another spot where we hiked down a path and got to see waterfalls! We climbed out on the rocks and took pictures and enjoyed the view. If was a beautiful spot full of green that I am sure cannot be replicated in Maine this time of year. To top off the day we briefly stopped in a small town wander and merienda (afternoon snack). My host family and others commented on what a gorgeous town it is and I agreed- however I think that about everywhere we visit.

School is going well, probably how you’d imagine school in a foreign country: boring because that remains a trait of school no matter where you are but interesting at times and confusing. The second trimester just ended which meant lots of exams. Up until this point I’ve been an honors student. That’s not quite the same here. Luckily, my teachers are very understanding.

In a few classes here I am a great student. For example in English class I am the star pupil. I’m also on better side of the spectrum in math, but this isn’t true for a lot of classes. A few teachers have me take exams like everyone else but don’t grade them the same. Usually they fix my grammar and compliment the things I did right. One even gave me a passing grade (5) because I had tried and studied despite not answering everything correctly (or understanding some of the questions). Other students go above and beyond and make alternative exams for me or give me packets to work on that are easier. That leaves one or two classes where I just don’t do the exam. Which is a bit hard to explain to my classmates. I remember on one occasion someone was handing out the exam and tried to give me one and I just said “oh no gracias” (no thank you) and they were quite confused. However, in most of my classes I at least try to do the work and follow along. According to my principal my teachers have seen an improvement in my Spanish which is very encouraging.


This is the road I walk to get to school.

I mentioned previously, I’ve been doing a lot of things. Obviously. I live here. But here’s a few quick summaries of things from the past few weeks: I joined a biology class for a day and helped to plant holly around the school. I went to a play with my class on a Saturday night. It was called “El sí de las niñas” (the English name is “The Maidens’ Consent”). It was a great show, the ticket was only four euros and the theater is a three minute walk from my house. Needless to say, I’d definitely recommend. I made brownies with my host sister. We celebrated El Día del Padre as well (father’s day). This was a little confusing for me because as most of you know, in the U.S. Father’s Day is not in March. However, I made sure to wish all the fathers I know a good day- just in case.

There was also a solar eclipse! We weren’t in the perfect viewing area but we were in the partial eclipse area. As I’ve mentioned before, the weather here is generally great- clear skies and not much rain. That being said the day, (and the whole week for that matter) of the eclipse was cloudy and rainy. So, we didn’t get to witness it directly. It did get significantly darker at the time though. It seemed a little bit like the world was ended with the dark clouds, pouring rain and then additional darkness. But that’s just my point of view.


A church that I pass while walking at the center of the town.

Life is becoming more comfortable here. It’s not the same as home. It’s not the level of comfort where I’d kick off my sweaty socks in the living room but I might take them off like a civilized person. I’m getting to know friends better as well. This is for obvious reasons great, however this also means they’re starting to notice my accent more. Which means enduring the “can you say ____ for us?!” Surprisingly, it’s often equally entertaining for me as it is for them. I’m becoming closer with my host sisters and parents as well. A lot of the time becoming ‘closer’ with people means being able to talk about more with them. Which means although I learned a lot about the culture here in the beginning, now I’m starting to explore it in depth. I’m also able to share more about the U.S. now than before. This is because we’ve gotten through the simpler differences like language and foods. Now, I’m getting the opportunity to discuss things more deeply such as differences in education and the benefits and disadvantages. In return this has helped me reflect on U.S. culture a lot.

Now, I’m soaking in the Spanish ways of life. I’m learning new things each day and even the mundane can be so exciting. Being an exchange student means I have limited time here. So, I try to do something each day to make it worthwhile. And on the days where I’m not feeling the brightest, I think the same thing: ‘I’ve only got so many more days.’ Even waking up on a Monday morning, I try to remember ‘I only get to do this 13 more times.’



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