This week, we hand over the blog writing baton to Bella, who joined us for work experience last month and raves about her exchange programme experience. Take it away Bella!
Attending a school where learning a language is an important part of the curriculum, I have been lucky enough to take part in 3 exchange programmes – twice to Spain and once to Germany. These exchange programmes were culturally enriching and gave me the opportunity to practise my language skills while seeing the lives of others abroad and exploring the country.
Antes de conocer a mi compañero para intercambio
My exchange partner, Laura, and I started speaking about 4 months before we first met. It was reassuring to see how much we had in common, and we spoke non-stop until the day I flew to Spain! One time we facetimed and I discovered her mum was Portuguese – just like mine.
Recibido con los brazos abiertos
Unlike many others taking part in this exchange, I had already experienced it twice before so I didn’t feel too nervous – but it is scary when you have to go stay with a family you have never met in a different country! We arrived in Spain, and were taken via minibus to Colegio Internacional Europa where we were greeted by our exchanges. Laura was so welcoming, and introduced me to her twin brother Alfonso. That evening, I met her mother and was shown around their home. It was intimidating seeing how good their English was compared to my Spanish, but they always helped me when I was struggling on what to say.
There was a combination of eating out and her mother cooking for us while I was there; this was amazing as it gave me the chance to try many foods typical of the country. I was offered ‘gazpacho’ almost everyday – this is a cold tomato soup, often served with bread and olive oil. Of course, I tried the traditional paella, croquetas, and the tortilla (one of my favourites).
Turismo en el país
One trip organised by the school was to the ancient port city of Cádiz. While here, we explored the city and went to the beach. The other was to Seville for the day; a tour guide showed us around some of the main sights including La Plaza de España, the Royal Alcázar, La Torre del Oro, and La Catedral de Sevilla – all of these were beautiful and had a lot of history behind them.
Un viaje a Portugal
While I was staying with Laura, it happened to be her and her brother’s birthday, so it was lovely to celebrate with them, and even more amazing when she told me we were going to Portugal for the day! From Espartinas to Monte Gordo was only about 1.5 hours in the car – my mum was super jealous of me as she hasn’t been to her home country for almost 10 years. We spent the day on La Praia de Monte Gordo and she showed me her beach house that they have there.
¿Y ahora qué?
Four months after arriving back in England, Laura was supposed to come to England with her school so she could experience our culture and spend a week with my family. However, because of Covid-19, it was cancelled just 2 weeks before she should have come. That hasn’t stopped us from speaking though and we have organised for her to come spend a week with us this summer which we are both really looking forward to! If you ever have the chance to take part in an exchange programme, I highly recommend it.
Interested in work experience?
If you or someone you know has done a language exchange programme that has ignited a desire for a career in languages, give us a call on 01727 812725 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see if we can sort some work experience for you. If that’s a bit daunting to you, chat to one of the team using our live chat. We look forward to hearing from you!