On Tuesday, the exchanged students attended the Spaniards’ school, Ramon y Cajal, for the first day. It was interesting to experience the visible differences between their school and ours. Students that go to Ramon y Cajal, have different teachers for each subject, but travel with the same group of people to each class (except for English because the class is split by level). Every student is given an iPad and the materials the teachers use to teach are all in a application on that iPad, so notebooks and paper are virtually nonexistent. To our dismay, the Spaniards do not have any frees, however, they do have an hour and a half lunch period where they stay outside (don’t worry, it’s 50-60 degrees!!) and hang out. Because of this generous lunch time, many of the students who live nearby, go home to eat and some even take a nap (aka siesta). The school day also lasts from 8 am to 5 pm. I seriously don’t know how they do it– during the last class I basically had to hold my eyelids open. The classroom abience is noticeably different from that of an American school. Students talk virtually the entire class amidst the lesson and that is tolerated by the teachers. While the school experience is definitely different, the students clearly have a great academic experience.
Wednesday we went on an excursion to the heart of Madrid. Ernie Collabolletta, one of the trip leaders, does this thing where he appoints two American students every day as the ‘guides’ and these students are in charge of maneuvering all 22 of us to the locations we are planning to go to for the day. This job includes getting the students to the Metro Station, the necessary stop, each location we are planning to visit, and back. Our guides successfully lead us to a famous churros and chocolate place: San Gines (if anyone did the Madrid project in 8th grade, you most likely had this in your day plan… I did!). The churros were incredible! We then went to the Royal Palace where we toured the inside of the palace the royal family once lived in. Unfortunately photography was not permitted, but if there were to be a ‘Top 10 List of Most Elaborate, Lavish Rooms in the World’, the rooms in the palace would most definitely make the cut. After our tour inside the palace we spent time taking lots of pictures of the outside, which was just as beautiful as its interior. We then headed to the Mayor Plaza which is an old plaza with many tables in the middle. Unfortunately, I was not able to optimize the potential enjoyment of the Plaza due to these annoying people following us with these weird high, pitched (unnatural) noises trying to sell us things (we had no idea what they were trying to sell because their voices were not coherent) and they were incredibly frightening. Afterwards, we went to lunch at a nice cave place, and they served a ridiculous amount of food– I think it sufficed as three days worth of food. As usual, I took tons of pictures!
by Emily Brew