A week in the life of... an English student in Madrid

Courtney McRae - Parker

Sunday: This was my first full day in Madrid, and I spent the full day with my Spanish family. As I was tired from the flight the day before my Spanish mum let me sleep in, in the early afternoon we went to meet my exchange partner at his chess tournament before going out to lunch with his family and their friends. We went to a typical Spanish restaurant and I tried foods such as paella. On the evening the family spent time with their friends, while I took the opportunity to send messages to my family. Overall, my first day was fun and gave me a great insight into the typical Spanish life.

Monday: We were all apprehensive about today’s activities, as we had to attend three lessons with our Spanish students. Their school experience is completely different to that of QEHS because teachers lecture the students rather than interacting with them, I actually managed to understand some of what the teachers were saying! In the maths class we attended, several of the English students helped some of the members of the class with their English. In the afternoon we met up with the rest of the English students and went on a tour around the Santiago Bernabéu grounds and museum. We took some group pictures on the player’s bench, before returning home to spend time with our Spanish families.

Tuesday: On Tuesday all of the Spanish and English students went on a day trip to Segovia, an old town in the mountains. We had half an hour in the main square to get food before we went on to have tours of the historic castle and cathedral, this was interesting as we got to see traditional Spanish architecture. After that, we went off in smaller groups to have a look around the beautiful town. We tried some of the local sweets, one of which was incredibly spicy. The last thing we did on this day trip was visit the Roman Aquaduct; we took some group pictures before getting on the bus home. For the whole day we were there it rained, and on the bus back to Madrid it actually snowed!

Wednesday: This was our first chance on the trip to take a look at Madrid with just the English students. We visited the Prado Museum and the Royal Palace, which were exceptionally beautiful and really worth taking the time to visit. Although it rained most of the day, we were inside the majority of the time, so we were spared from spending the whole day soaking wet. On the night time, the English and Spanish students met up at a shopping centre, where the Spanish students went bowling and the English students got some food and bought clothes and souvenirs.

Thursday: On Thursday we went to the Geological museum and visited a pastry shop. All the food was really cheap and really tasty. In the afternoon, we went to a school concert where local singers performed. It was really fun because they sang a mix of classical and musical songs. On the afternoon, some of the students went straight from school to the Plaza de Sol where we got something to eat before meeting all the other students for a night of shopping.

Friday: This day was our last full day in Madrid, so we all tried to make the most of the experience. We had a great day out, where we visited the Plaza Mayor, a beautiful square with lots of shops, cafes and beautiful architecture. We then went to the famous market of San Miguel where they sell the most delicious foods ranging from pastries and ice-cream, to fish and olives. We all had great fun, and loved experiencing all the different Spanish foods. We then went to the “Cafetería San Ginés” for ‘chocolate con churros’ a famous Spanish dish, which is best, described as long doughnuts dipped in chocolate. The final thing we did on the Friday was meet the Spanish students in the school café for tapas, this gave us a chance to say goodbye to the Spanish students because we would be too tired to do so the next morning. On the evening, I had a meal with my Spanish family and their friends. We ate typical Spanish foods and I actually managed to have conversations in Spanish with members of the group.

The best things about the whole experience were; trying new foods, experiencing the language in a conversation context and getting to visit different type of city. I recommend the exchange to anyone interested!