People have been asking how this year has gone for our kids, so here it is in their own words.
Gabi’s thoughts on this year: When my parents first told me we were moving to Spain for a year at first I didn’t think it was bad, but then Robbie started talking to me and I realized I wouldn’t see my friends and it made me sad. I was afraid of not knowing the language and that I might not have as many friends. I didn’t think the neighborhood we moved to (the Albayzin) would be as old as it is or would have only rock pathways as streets. But now I like it because a lot of my friends live really close and it would make it really easy to play with them after school, but people here always get cranky about noise during siesta time! When I first got here I didn’t think I would like walking to school and back but now I do. School here is different because you stay in one classroom for the whole day, so if it is music time, the teacher comes to our classroom. It feels like the teachers here are closer to the students. School is similar here because we have most of the same classes. I really liked being here this year because I got to try a circus class after school and learned how to play the cajón (flamenco drum). My circus teacher was really funny! I also found out that I like collecting and trading LaLiga (soccer) cards with people. My favorite team is Fútbol Club Barcelona and my favorite player is Iniesta. I like FC Barcelona because I like the city a lot which was one of my favorite trips I took with my family this year. I also liked going to Cabo de Gata and swimming in the pool with my friends Amanda, Justin and Luke. I would definitely like to come back and live in Granada again, because I like the neighborhood and the city and how everything is so close. I think if someone is given a chance to live in another country I would tell them to try it, have a good attitude and try the food there, because it might be really good! I think because we moved here I now like a lot more foods, I definitely know more Spanish, and I am OK with trying all kinds of new things.
When my parents told me we were moving to Spain for the year, I thought, “Really? Are we really doing this?” because it seemed really weird and out of the ordinary and shocking. When I first thought about it, it wasn’t a big deal, because it was six months away, so I had time to still do stuff in Seattle and be with my friends. When it was getting closer to moving, I was sad to be leaving all my friends. I wasn’t really afraid of anything about moving here, except not making friends because I didn’t know Spanish. I expected life to be very similar to Seattle, only in Spanish. I was completely wrong. There are not a lot of open spaces or big grassy fields in the neighborhood and the school work is way more laid back. Hardly any homework and easy. Parents here seem to only want to make sure their kids advance to the next grade, but don’t care too much about what marks they get on assignments. The hardest part about living in Spain has been trying to understand the textbooks and fitting in. It took me about half of the year until I began understanding the reading in the textbooks, but sometimes I still can’t understand when people talk to me in Spanish. One of the things that has pleasantly surprised me about living in Spain is the helado. It is super good. Besides the helado, my favorite part of living here has been traveling around Europe, but I’m sad that we didn’t go to Russia. I would do something like this again in a different country, but maybe for only about three months, because Spain was either unbearably hot or unbearably cold. If any other kids want to do this, I would say be prepared for an extreme difference in lifestyle. I think this experience hasn’t changed me much apart from seeing that other cultures are different which I kind of already knew. I was already open to trying new things, and I still am.
Robbie’s side of the story:
Well, going all the way back to the beginning, when Mom and Dad told me about this trip, I thought it was quite possibly the worst idea anyone had ever come up with since remaking Ghostbusters. Then came the six months of dread and anger, as well as many desperate attempts to convince my parents not to move us here. Keep in mind, I had not only just managed to get used to my new high school, this would mark the fourth time our family had moved and the sixth school I’d have to attend. (I’m up to seven now, but more on that later.) That being said, I did have a kind of morbid curiosity as to what the year would be like. What was it like you ask? Ever ride Thunder Mountain at Disneyland? It was like that, just not as fast. Coming here halfway through summer allowed us to get acquainted with the city and prepare our phenomenally awful Spanish for the coming school year, as well as introduce us to 100+ degree weather…Fahrenheit. Aside from Spanish classes and a couple trips to some beach towns to combat the heat, the summer was relatively uneventful. Then school started…and everything went to hell. Remember when I mentioned that I’ve attended seven different schools? Well, the first school I went to in Spain was a little place called Granada College. Now, my fellow St. Al’s alumni, take the things you didn’t like about that school, for example, the uniforms, strict regime, that disgusting chicken noodle soup…and multiply them by Satan. Oh, and add an 8 hour school day and a forty-five minute commute. Yeah…didn’t stay there very long. Halfway through November, I transferred to the public secondary school in my neighborhood, and immediately the year went uphill. Shorter day, no uniforms, they didn’t force you to shove cream of carrot down your throat until you started gagging and choking, and a ten minute walk from our house. Also, ironically enough, I ended up getting more help with Spanish. Even better, in January my class received an ex-pat student from Australia, so now I had someone to share the pain with. After that, things started going more smoothly. We went to numerous places, both in Spain and the rest of Europe (skiing in Switzerland was the highlight for me) and I started to actually pass my classes and learn Spanish beyond “hola” and “adios!” But the question is, would I ever want to do something like this again? Absolutely not. At least, not until I start college…which I guess isn’t absolute. So…did the year change me at all…well, I went from being a quiet, socially awkward kid in America…to an even more quiet, even more socially awkward kid in Spain…so, guess I’ll have to wait until I’m back home to really see if there’s a difference. Either way, I’m too stubborn to admit to my parents that this trip wasn’t a complete disaster, so ask me again in ten years. Until next time…hasta luego.