Spain: Language Immersion and Leadership Trip!

Growth: 10
Support: 10
Fun: 10
Housing: 10
Safety: 10

I cannot say enough about how much I enjoyed this trip. Prior to going to Spain, I had never been to Europe or out of the country (except for a cruise years ago). My parents were worried about sending me on a trip with an organization that we hadn't heard much about and with people that I did not know. Fortunately, neither of these things were problems while on the trip. It took less than three days for all nine of us (11 including our two wonderful group leaders) to become great friends and a "travel family". Everyone on the trip was extremely nice and made the experience extremely enjoyable. Our group leaders, Carlos and Serena, were super organized and easily communicated with the Spanish people which prevented us from having to worry about any language barriers. Both Carlos and Serena are fluent in Spanish and have many years of experience with the language and culture. The trip allowed us to get a taste of both urban and rural Spain which was quite an amazing and humbling experience. We began our experience in Madrid which was very cool to see, personally, because my mom went to Madrid on a similar trip when she was in high school. Upon our arrival in Spain I was slightly worried about our living accommodations because we were going to be staying in a hostel, and I automatically assumed the worst. When we arrived at our "hostel" I soon realized that the marble floors, clean rooms, and very cute breakfast dining area were nothing that I expected a hostel to look like. It was absolutely beautiful and located right in a quiet area just a three minute walk from central Madrid. All of my expectations were surpassed and we had only been to Madrid. We visited all the major sights in Madrid and even went on a guided tour led by a Madrileño. We were able to do things and learn things that we would not have known about had it not been for our wonderful tour guide. Once our time at Madrid was over we hopped on our beautiful Mercedes-Benz short bus with leather seats and tables and drove in luxury to Segovia where we were delighted to find some cooler weather (more like cold for me as a Floridian). We were also welcomed to the old city by an extremely large Roman aqueduct that used to be a central part of the city's irrigation and water system. Segovia was beautiful with a giant cathedral with a Hogwarts style courtyard in the center and a huge castle called Alcázar that inspired Disney castles. Although the hike up the nearly 200 steep steps of Alcázar's tower was tough, the view was surreal and well worth the trek. After spending the day in Segovia we got back on our Benz bus and drove down a long stretch of road, passing through many small cities dispersed along the road until we reached Sebúlcor. Sebúlcor was was of my favorite places that we visited. Our bed and breakfast was beautiful, quaint, and, again, surpassed all of my expectations. The bed and breakfast was situated right along the main road at the entrance to the city. However, we may have seen 10 cars drive by in the five days that we were there as Sebúlcor is maybe a quarter of a mile long and surrounded by miles of hay fields and mountains. The view was incredible. We even found a huge sunflower patch hidden on the other side of hill with trees. It was an amazing sight and was such an incredible surprise. While in Sebúlcor we went kayaking along Rio Duratón in a gorge and learned about the extensive history of the birds on the walls of the gorge and the caves. It was beautiful, and another thing that I had never seen as a native Floridian. Leaving Sebúlcor was very sad because it quickly became one of my favorite places. After Sebúlcor we went to Amayuelas de Abajo, an extremely small city of around 25 people that had been abandoned until the mid-90s. The people of the city found it and bought the land for cheap, and have created an ecologically conscious city run by solar power. We worked on the city farm run by a very skilled man who is good at basically everything. We built a wall made out of cement along the perimeter of the fence to prevent animals from coming in and eating the crops. We stayed in a big house where visitors can stay and slept in bunk beds which was a super cool camp-like experience. We ate all of our meals with the community which was surprisingly an incredible experience. We also played soccer, handball, and volleyball with some kids from a neighboring community and won at all three! Each day in Amayuelas we also did a workshop and learned how to use native plants to make natural remedies and lotions, which was so cool. Amayuelas was an incredibly rewarding and humbling experience that I will never forget. It also allowed all of us on the trip to get closer and enjoy each other's company. Leaving Amayuelas was also very sad because we had grown very close to the community in our time there. We then drove in our Benz bus for eight (eight!!) hours to Valencia where we met up with our homestay families. After visiting three rural areas of Spain, it was very cool to see a big city again. Valencia was beautiful and urban and reminded me of a European version of Miami. All of our homestay experiences were unique and allowed us to see how different people in Valencia live. In Valencia we worked on wetland restoration projects and worked to remove invasive species of plants from the dunes on the beach. Our hard work was always rewarded with a trip to the beautiful Mediterranean. After Valencia, we took the train to Barcelona. Barcelona was overflowing with people of all origins and had exponentially more tourists than Madrid. We went to La Sagrada Familia, a gigantic and breathtaking cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudi in the late 1800s that is still under construction now. Every curve and color in the cathedral has a meaning and is significant to the story told by the architecture of the cathedral. Overall, Barcelona was breathtaking and a great way to end the trip. I truly can not express how amazing this trip was. After going on this trip I really hope to be able to study abroad in the future and experience Spain again, but I know that it will not be the same without all of the incredible people that I met on my trip. Also, Global Works has a no phone policy for the trips to allow participants to become fully immersed in the trip and the people. As a person who relies on my phone for almost everything for school and communication with family and friends, I am happy to say that I did not miss my phone one bit after the first few days of the trip. It was very freeing. However, I do suggest bringing some sort of music playing device on the trip. We had a lot of fun singing along to songs on our long bus rides and in our free time. Everything about this trip was amazing!

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would
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