Located outside the bustling Spanish capital of Madrid, lies the suburb of Las Rozas de Madrid. The town is home to “La Ciudad de Fútbol,” the national soccer museum, and it is the training ground for the Spanish National team. The area is filled with lively shopping malls, outdoor markets and famed restaurants. This is the place that a group of nine Millburn High School students and two teachers had the pleasure of visiting this past February.
After meeting several times and hearing the stories of classmates who had visited Spain before, the eager group of students made their way for Newark Airport. They were led by both Señora Vazquez, an Advanced Placement Spanish teacher, and Madame Changeux, a French teacher who had lived in Spain and spoke fluent Spanish. The group agreed to only speak Spanish once they arrived. Communicating in English for the duration of the trip would not be tolerated.
Julia Kirland, a freshman at the time, described arriving in Barajas, Madrid’s main airport: “Seeing Madrid from the air was unforgettable. We all couldn’t wait to get off the plane and meet our Spanish families.” Once the group arrived to the local Spanish high school, Gredos San Diego, they were picked up and taken to their Spanish families’ homes.
After sharing some quality time with their Spanish families, the students spent two hours at the local high school. After that, they were picked up by Señora Vazquez and Madame Changeux and toured around Madrid, seeing the Royal Palace and other historical sites. The group snacked on Spanish ham and ate paella, a popular Spanish dish consisting of rice, saffron, chicken and seafood cooked and served in a large shallow pan. Before the first few days were over, many students felt as though they had gained some weight due to the delicious meals.
The group travelled to cities such as Granada and Segovia. Emily Alpert, a student who fell in love with the local culture, described the group’s travels: “we went to Granada and stayed overnight, which was a lot of fun especially because we all became really close. Watching the Flamenco performance was a interesting as well.”
After a week of traveling, fine dinning and learning, it was time to return to New Jersey. The group said goodbye to their families and thanked them for an amazing experience. The journey helped the students improve their Spanish and gave them a taste of what lies outside their hometown.
Saint Augustine once said: “The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” It is safe to say that these students added a wonderful page to their life’s book.