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St. Andrew’s Episcopal School Spain 2018

June 11-12, 2018

The flight from SFO to Paris to Málaga was already a long one, but our excitement to finally be visiting Spain in real life made the 17 hours of travel feel much longer. When we finally arrived in Málaga and hopped onto the bus, fatigue struck all of us. Our eyelids would not listen to Profe Millet’s command, and we almost drifted off to sleep. The view from the bus looked the exact same as the one in California. We passed whitewashed hilltop towns and the occasional bulls standing proud but thin as the paper they were made out of.

Then we reached our destination, FES! Our first impression on FES community was the diversity and the sense belonging. There are immigrants and refugees in the house from all over the world, but they help each other out and live together as a family. Dinner time was when we felt the most at home. We warmed up our Spanish skills while introducing ourselves, and after dinner, we hung out with the kids. When we got to know each other better, we no longer felt uncomfortable speaking in Spanish. We didn’t feel the language barrier, and we were simply having fun together. We were also surprised by how much Spanish we actually knew. The kids made us forget our age differences; 5-year-olds and us. At the end of the day, hugs and flowers were exchanged, and we hit the hay after a long day.

-By Anna Y. and Mito F.

June 13, 2018

When we woke up, we still felt very tired from the day before. For breakfast, we ate with the whole community for the first time. Before eating, we all held hands together and said a blessing. There were pan con tomate, salamis, cheese, butter, cereal, and juice. They were delicious. After breakfast, we got assigned our first jobs which included bread making, mosaic designing, marmalade making, and gardening. At the bread making station, we first collected wood to fuel the oven, and checked once in a while to add more wood because the temperature drops. We used simple ingredients to create a delicious homemade bread. They were later served during lunch, and we felt the sense of belonging to the community because we were able to help with their jobs.

In the afternoon, we got our jobs done and had about two hours of rest. We created a 5 rule group contract: Be inclusive, growth mindset, step out of your comfort zone, stay positive, and soak it all up. We also had an additional “rule”: always have fun. For the rest of the two hours, we hung out at the pool. Then we did a little workshop. Some people did ceramics, others did knitting, and the rest worked on jam making. After that, time passed slowly and we were tired in a good way. Today was our second day here, and the activities we did helped us get over our jet lag.

-By Anna Y. and Mito F.

June 14, 2018

Tap…tap…tap…strum…strum…strum… listening to the ongoing noises as we were learning the Flamenco dance. Learning the steps and keys on becoming a great Flamenco dancer. We learned that it takes courage and bravery and lots of practice. After we have experienced the dance, we got to watch one. We saw how much work it takes and how much dedication it takes to become a great Flamenco dancer. The uniform you must wear and how much talent it takes to think on the spot on what step to do next. But earlier today we continued the second day of rotations for our service learning for FES. We have learned that the mosaic is almost done and it will be completed by tomorrow. To end the night we got to watch the sunset at the Alhambra. Also we learned how to outline the Alhambra and as outlining we learned how much detail is put into the castle. It was truly relaxing and peaceful watching the sunset as the city lit up, as the sky grew dark. We will never forget this moment in our trip and we are truly lucky to get the opportunity to see this.

-By Alisa P. and Jessica M.

June 15, 2018

We woke up at our normal time, before breakfast at 8. Breakfast was the same as usual. It ended a little earlier today, so we got to play a game called Wah. The basic idea was to not mess up the rhythm of the entire group. After the game, we started our last day of service!

Our time at FES passed so quickly and they were so hospitable to all of us! We were really excited, but sad to be leaving so soon!  Some people did gardening, others made bread, which we ate at lunch, and the rest worked on the mosaic representing our school here at the community. It says, “La Respuesta Siempre Es El Amor,” which means “the answer is always love”. It is a quote by Father Cameron, our preacher, in chapel. We had some downtime after lunch, which we used to take a siesta, just like people usually do in Spain.

At 5:30, Ignacio, the founder of FES, showed us a couple of videos about the history and culture of the foundation. At around 6:30, we went to the pool to hang out and watch the World Cup! It was a tie between Spain and Portugal(we were all rooting for Spain though!), 3-3. A couple of us decided to play water poker instead of watching. The main difference between water poker and normal poker is that we bet how much water the losers had to drink! It was actually really entertaining(and kept us quite hydrated)!

Finally at 10pm, we had a late dinner with the entire community and some college students visiting from Madrid. They prepared dinner for us, coke, seafood paella, lasagna, fries and olives, and a dessert of yogurt and fruit. Only one student from St. Andrew’s was at each table, so we had to interact with the community using our Spanish skills. It was kind of hard because they had slight accents and talked fast. We finished dinner at 11:15 pm, but it didn’t end there. Some Japanese members of FES were amazing Flamenco dancers, and put on quite a show!  We went to bed remembering to get up at 6:45 in the morning, ready for a day in Granada!

By Aryana S. and Richard Z.

June 16, 2018

Today we ate breakfast at an earlier time of 7:15 am. Then prepared to visit the Alhambra. “Your experience at the Alhambra is going to be life changing,” said our tour guide, Alfonso. Two days ago we were looking at the Alhambra from far, far away, but today we got to experience it up close. During our tour we learned a lot such as, how it was preserved, who built it, and when it was built. At the same time we learned a little bit of Spanish vocabulary and mathematics such as the Pythagorean Theorem. In the afternoon we got to eat sandwiches and enjoy the garden in the Alhambra. Some people ate tortillas de patatas while others enjoyed jamon, queso, and pollo. The air was filled the hint of lavender, reminding us of home. We wrote poetry and drew things we experienced during our time at the Alhambra. We sat in silence and contemplated our experiences. In total we walked about 5 miles today.

We also visited the cathedral in which we learned the rich history of the royal family and about christianity. In the cathedral we walked through a tour by a microphone like device that told us the history of christianity relating to the Queen and the King. We saw John the Baptist and John the Evangelist die in morbid ways. It was unexpected and was also surprising to us, we thought a church was supposed to represent an utopia that people live in, but the image was the opposite. We also saw many different paintings made by Queen Isabel and paintings ordered to be made by the King. He ordered them to build large coffins for their bodies and the architect hinted at the smartness of Queen Isabel and the King being lower intellectually.

After going to the cathedral, we spent 45 minutes shopping at an Arabic market to buy some souvenirs. The corridors were narrow and the air was filled with the smell of spices. Then we went on the bus and got back to FES. Once we got back, we packed for our departure the next day and enjoyed a well deserved rest. For dinner we enjoyed hamburgers and watermelon on the last day at FES. All of us at the end got to say a few sentences to the foundation and also we presented a fan to the owner, Ignacio. The thought of leaving was filled with mixed emotions, but we were happy to continue our trip around Spain and sad to leave our memories behind.

-By Adam L. and Katie M.

June 17, 2018

Our day started off very early in the morning, with breakfast at 6:30 and leaving the FES at 7. We arrived at Córdoba at around 9, and promptly went to check out the beautiful Mezquita, right next to the Río Guadalquivir. The architecture was incredible, with many colors and detailed carvings. It was especially unique, because it isn’t only a mosque, there is a cathedral in the center. This shows an interesting mix between two different and unique religions. After the Mezquita, we checked out the interesting downtown of Córdoba, doing some shopping, and having a uniquely Spanish lunch. We enjoyed a lunch of tapas, trying many different appetizers instead of having one main course. For example, we had gazpacho, sauteed baby squid with coleslaw, meatballs with an almond saffron sauce, oxtail stew, and orange slices with olive oil and cinnamon for dessert. We bonded with our friends and classmates over lunch, having a very fun time. Leaving Córodoba at 4, we arrived in Sevilla at 6, and went to check out the hotel that we will stay at for the next 2 nights. After dropping off our luggages, we went to explore the downtown of Sevilla, checking out the Plaza de España, and the cathedral. At the Plaza de España, we had the pleasure of enjoying a mini flamenco show, listening to the incredible music, and watching the dancer move quickly to the beat. Eating dinner around 8:30, we tried many different dishes. To finish off the night, we went to an ice cream shop, and enjoyed the sweet dessert together.

– By Alisa P. and Anna Y.

June 18, 2018

In the morning we ate breakfast for the first time at Hotel Simon. After breakfast, we met with our tour guide named José. His Spanish was very fast, and we had a hard time understanding him. An interesting thing we learned from him was that a baby born in Sevilla inherits three things; its grandparents name, a soccer team to cheer for, and a religious fraternity.

First we went to a Baroque style Cathedral dedicated to San José. It was very small, but the inside was glamorous. Then we went to the Royal Palace of Sevilla. The inside consisted of ancient technology like “air conditioning”, which used tiles to cool the inside. The garden was absolutely gorgeous. It had a water organ, which apparently operated with the force of water, but we couldn’t figure out the mechanism. There were many photo spots, so we took some pictures of us in cringey poses. The garden made anyone look photogenic. After the palace, we were off to a mission to order tapas. We split up into two groups, and they each marched up and down the street to find a tapas restaurant with El Menú del Día, the menu of the day, without adults. El Menú del Día is a very cost efficient way of making your stomach happy. Once we decided on a restaurant, the teachers left us on our own and we acquired freedom. We helped each other order in Spanish, shared food, and watched the World Cup. It was super fun being able to make decisions on our own and also to spend time with our great friends.

Next we went to Catedral de Sevilla. There we climbed all the way up to the top of the Girealda, or bell tower. There were slopes instead of stairs, which the Muslims used back when the Cathedral was a Mosque to ride donkeys to call people for prayer. The slopes seemed endless which made us hopeless, until we saw a light leaking from the corner. The view from the top of the tower was beautiful, especially after that long walk. We did a little bit of shopping after that, also on our own. One of the groups finished shopping late, so the teachers told them that they had to pay for the ice cream, which was an evil lie. After resting at the hotel for about an hour, we went to the famous mushroom architecture in Sevilla. What we’ve been seeing in pictures were beautiful mushrooms lit with yellow lights, so climbing on the mushroom itself wasn’t as cool as seeing the whole thing from the top, but it was a fun experience.

After a long day, it was finally time for dinner at 9:30. There, another challenge awaited us. It was the 15 Euros “invisible teachers” challenge. We were all given 15 Euros each to order from the menu. It wasn’t hard but since teachers were totally not in the restaurant, we helped each other out order food. Someone accidently ordered eggplants and fish instead of the pork bao they wanted, but they had to eat it because we don’t waste any food in our group. The dishes were all delicious, but after that we didn’t get the ice cream the teacher promised us because it was 11:10 at night. Overall today was an independent day where we learned not only Spanish, but time and money management, and teamwork.

-By Mito F. and Theo S

June 19, 2018

We woke up super early in the morning so we could get to Málaga and spend more time there. We all slept on the way there, and when we got up, some of us were ready to go and refreshed, while others were still sleepy. Once we arrived at our hotel room, we got a few minutes to get settled in and chillax. We walked down the streets of Málaga to visit a typical market of Spain where people would buy food for their daily life. A few foods that we saw were: fruits, seafood, cheese, and acorn-fed ham. There was a lot of seafood like fish and clams because Málaga is right by the Mediterranean Sea. Each person had ten euros to spend in the market, which was all combined to form a picnic in the park for lunch.

Our next stop was the Picasso Art Museum. A few of his most famous paintings were displayed there, ranging from when he was 16 to the near end of his life. We learned a lot about Pablo Picasso’s life through the audio guides, and at the end of our visit, we copied down in our notebooks our favorite piece of his. As a treat after a long visit to the Museum, we got to try the most authentic food you can get in Spain: churros! They were served with melted chocolate to dip the churros in, and we all definitely enjoyed them very much.

We hopped onto a public bus, which took us towards the Mediterranean Sea. We waded in the water a little bit and got to physically touch the sea! Just when we started to get a little hungry, Profe announced to us all that we would learn to make paella! Paella is vegetables, meat, and rice all mixed together in a big pan called the “paellera” in Spanish. As a bonus, we made Sangria (don’t worry, there was no alcohol!), which tasted amazing! After dinner, we all received fans which we got signed with a nice note by everyone in the group.

We came back to the hotel for our last bonding and reflection experience in Spain! We played a game called Comfort Donut, which helped us think about how we’ve grown and tried new things over the course of the last 10 days. Through this game, we all realized how much we had changed by just getting to know one another better and that we all have something to learn from everyone else. As a final activity, we all wrote postcards to our future selves a little bit about our trip to Spain and all our wonderful memories here! This trip was truly the experience of a lifetime, and even though it was simply a 10 day travel to Spain, those 10 days of fun, excitement, and awesomeness were enough to make us feel so close to the people we once thought of as strangers. We can’t even begin to express how much we’re going to miss this place! In our hearts, there will always be a gap where this family away from home belongs, and nothing will ever change the things we experienced in Spain.

By: Anna Y. and Aryana S.