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The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

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From the plane to Spain: 2024 exchange trip

SPANISH+EXCHANGE+-+students+explore+the+city+of+Alicante+before+heading+off+to+Madrid.
Isadora Groves
SPANISH EXCHANGE – students explore the city of Alicante before heading off to Madrid.

We’re back, and we’re here to give you the long-awaited Spain exchange student trip recap. Before we get into it, we can’t go on without thanking our wonderful chaperones, Mr. Vela and Ms. Conklin. 

On February 23rd, Spanish exchange students made the long trip to arrive in DC. In the weeks leading up to their arrival, bilingual videos were sent back and forth between the Spanish students and students at JR that left us giggling and kicking our feet, wondering what the students were like in real life. As we greeted them and got over the initial awkwardness, we were excited to expose them to a new culture. Although the days were long and packed, we had fun taking them around our city. Everyone agreed on the highlight of their week here: the cafeteria in the Capitol with overpriced donuts that made the boring tour worth it. The week was mainly composed of missed school and sightseeing because we’ve NEVER done that before. Even though it was exhausting, we were sad to see them go and only more hype for our visit to their homes.

Excitement built up as we prepared for our trip, with last minute runs to Target for supplies and emails sent to all of our teachers. Finally, the day we had been waiting for came, and we boarded our red-eye flight to Alicante, Spain on April 5. Despite a broken bathroom and nauseating airplane food, we finally arrived. After a semi-awkward reunion with our exchange students, the jet lag hit and we fell fast asleep as soon as we got to our homes for the week. 

Deep in our sleep we could hear the Spanish clubs (don’t worry, it was all legal) calling our names. What could we do but answer them? After a quick nap we quickly got dressed and went out. Let us be the first to say HOW MUCH BETTER Spanish people are at partying then we Americans are. They never go home. Emphasis on that. It wasn’t until around 4:00 a.m. that we finally quit dancing and found ourselves leaving. Though our sleep schedule never fully bounced back from this night, it was well worth it. 

On Monday we found ourselves forced to go to school, despite the fact that we considered this a vacation. Spanish school was a unique experience. Instead of the kids switching classes, the teachers switch and the students sit in the same classroom for hours on end. Classes consist of endless lecturing so we just sat there, pretending to understand calculus and chemistry lectures. 

Despite their school being boring, the Alicante beaches soon made up for it. The bright blue and crystal clear water was where we spent as much time as we could. Beach days consisted of tanning, surfing, boogie boarding, and beach volleyball. The beach was also the center point of many activities. Santa Faz is an extremely awaited annual religious celebration that honors the pilgrimage of Jesus, consisting of a 12-mile walk that ends at the beach with church services after. This day is imperative to Alicante history and culture. By the end, our feet were aching and our throats thirsting, but seeing and experiencing an interesting new culture made it valuable anyways.

After a spectacular week, many tears and hard goodbyes were made, and we made our way to Madrid, braving the packed metros. We were pleasantly surprised by how nice our hostel was, and quickly made ourselves at home. First on our itinerary was a soccer game between Atletico Madrid and Girona. We had no idea what was going on, but the energy at the game rivaled our tiger pride at boys basketball games. In addition to that, we walked around to all the famous spots in Madrid, including the royal palace. After being there for only two days, we felt like we knew the neighborhood we were staying in pretty well. We were given 20 Euros for dinner and a curfew of 11 p.m. and then were released to roam the streets of Madrid on our own. 

As we debriefed the trip on the plane with Mr. Vela and Ms. Conklin, we were excited to get back home, but also sad that this wonderful experience had come to an end. We 100% recommend this trip to anyone interested, but would suggest being in a higher class than Spanish III. It was an incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience, both in DC and Spain, and taught us so much.

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About the Contributors
Noa Gordon, Sports Editor
Kalpana Shipler, Junior Editor
Isadora Groves
Isadora Groves, Editor-in-Chief
  • 2021-23: Junior Editor
  • 2023-24: News Editor
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