28 October 2019

On Thursday 10 October students from Abingdon and St Helen’s set out on an adventure to north west Spain to improve our Spanish and experience a different culture firsthand. The journey was easy and uneventful (except for Tor losing his boarding pass!!), and we were very excited to land in Santiago de Compostela and hop on the bus for the short journey to the acclaimed Peleteiro School (ranked best school in Spain in 2016).

As we approached the school gates, some anxiety and anticipation set in – what would our exchange partners be like? We were called off the bus one by one to meet them, relieved at the friendly and welcoming smiles and hugs.

The first evening we all met up in a restaurant to chat and reflect on our first few hours whilst eating some wonderful Spanish tortilla and other tapas. This became the routine, visits during the day – to the famous cathedral (walking a 7km stretch of the pilgrimage to get there), an enlightening ecological centre, an aquarium with Gaston the bull shark, a fun and interactive science museum, a medieval lighthouse with 240 steps – and evenings spent socialising with our new Spanish friends and eating delicious Spanish food.

The weekends were spent with our host families – mine took me to the coast where we ate fresh lobster and octopus – amazing! Others were taken on tours all over Galicia. We also spent a couple of days in school the second week, sampling the Spanish style of lessons, having lots of fun in the latin dance and folklore workshops, playing basketball and being interviewed by the very cute junior school pupils.

A big highlight as ever was the bus banter and the sing alongs to Reggie Snow and Loyle Carner, with Oscar’s Stand by Me solo a particular treat. The teachers said how nice it was that we all got along so well – and we really did.

We are very much looking forward therefore to welcoming our Spanish partners here at the end of February and to looking after them as well as they looked after us.

Written by Josh Jackson

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