High School Spanish students take Spain


Early in the morning of March 18th, 17 Irish Juniors and Seniors and three group leaders prepared to depart for the trip of a lifetime.  Every two years, Maple Lake High School Spanish instructor Kim Fynboh leads a group of students to Spain where they travel from city to city gaining first-hand experience of the Spaniards and their culture and this year she was joined by fellow MLHS teacher Andrew Boman and myself. Despite the unknown that would accompany the trip, each of the students attending decided it would be worthwhile, even before boarding a plane. ”I took the trip because I wanted to learn more about the culture and try something new,” said Junior Tristan Jurgens. Senior Vienna Jude felt nearly the same as Jurgens. “I decided to travel to Spain because I have never traveled outside of the country before and I was hoping to broaden my horizons and explore how other parts of the world were different from the United States,” agreed Jude. 
The two week trip began in the lively city of Madrid and came to an end in beautiful Barcelona. The students flew into and spent the first three days of the journey in Madrid. While there, the students were able to visit places such as the Palacio Real (Royal Palace), the Real Madrid Soccer Stadium, and the Retiro Park. Senior Maddie Nelson shared what she found to be the coolest part of the entire trip, “I loved visiting the Palacio Real. The palace was absolutely amazing.”
After the stay in Madrid, the remainder of the first week in Spain was spent going to multiple cities including Toledo, Granada, Segovia, Malaga and Cordoba. During the day trip to the small city of Toledo, the students were able to go to a gold factory and watch as the employees hand craft beautiful jewelry which they later were able to purchase. On another day trip, the students traveled to Malaga for a relaxing day at the beach. “Malaga was my favorite city because the day we went there it was so sunny and we got to spend the entire day on the beach and relax,” said Junior Damian Kaley. 
Unlike Toledo and Malaga, the visits to Cordoba, Segovia and Granada were a bit longer and included more sight-seeing at places such as the Alcazar, the Alhambra and the Mezquita. These longer stays made the students’ favorite lists as well, “My favorite city was Segovia because it was very calm and peaceful. Another reason is because Tristan and I played football with a couple of kids that were extremely sweet,” shared Junior Maddy Neu. “Playing football with the little kids is one of my favorite memories from the trip. They didn't know much English and we didn't know much Spanish so it worked out kind of perfectly. They were so fun, sweet and genuine. When I had to go they all gave me a lot of hugs and kisses on the cheek,” added Neu.
Although sight-seeing and tours played a major role on this trip, there was something that may have been a bit more noteworthy: the Spanish food. The food in Spain varied drastically with American food. From meal times to portions to tastes, the Spanish food definitely was different than the food we’re used to eating in Minnesota. “The food was amazing! Everything there is fresh, and the seafood is great! I think what I will miss the most though is the bread, because we had it with every meal and it was the kind that was freshly baked and was your stereotypical loaf of bread,” said Jude. Junior Abby Bentley agreed and added, “The food was delicious! They eat a lot of bread there and SO MUCH CHOCOLATE. I had chocolate every morning for breakfast.”
After the first week spent together as a group in Spain, we flew into Barcelona to prepare to separate for the host family stays. The students were each picked up by their host families about 45 minutes outside of Barcelona in a small city called Manresa. From this point forward, the students were on their own to experience what it’s really like to live in a Spanish home. “Host stays were my personal favorite part; I really enjoyed spending time with my family. The host family experience offered an unparalleled way to experience the real life of those who live in Spain,” said Junior Austin Becker and it was evident that he was not the only student who felt that way. “My family stay was really good! I got along well with everyone, and they all were very friendly! Although my host parents didn't speak English very well, my host brother, Isaac, was able to communicate very well with me and often translated for me and his parents. My host brother was so much fun and the life of the party when we visited his friends. We spent a lot of time doing very active things like hiking, sports and touring the local sights,” agreed fellow Junior Nick Paumen.
Along with touring, the students had many other stories to share of their time with their host families. Austin fell off the back of a moped and had to chase after it, Abby made a secret handshake, Nick and Blake played basketball and were treated like celebrities and Vienna walked along the Coast of Salou. Every one of the 17 students who traveled to Spain this year had their own special stories to share; stories which could have easily filled this entire newspaper.
While the students weren’t falling off of mopeds and being treated like celebrities, they were given the opportunity to attend a Spanish school. “Their school was cool. They were in specialized classes for what they wanted to do. My host sister was in the art program so I went to art classes all day. Her philosophy class was my favorite because we got to talk about the differences between Spain and the U.S.,” shared Nelson.
Following the trip, the decision seemed unanimous: the students who traveled would not only return if given the opportunity, but they would also encourage their younger counterparts to do the same. “I would definitely recommend this trip to a younger person thinking of going to Spain, my number one advice to a person that goes is this: always look for the best in things when your there, if something isn't going your way don’t worry about it because chances are if you worry about things it’ll probably make them worse. Also make the best out of your trip don't go home regretting that you didn't so something or you didn't do enough try to do and see as much as possible,” said Kaley.
The 17 students who traveled to Spain have truly experienced something once in a lifetime. They were able to travel across the world with their friends by their side, try new things, meet new people and most importantly, make memories that will last forever.