Cadiz, Spain 2018
The follow reflection was written by Gracie, our Summer Gogi intern on our recent trip to Spain . . . . . .
Over the course of 10 days, Kemp, Gerrit, Elijah, Nathaniel, Peter, Asher, Evelyn, Liz, Ari, and I travelled to Cádiz, Spain. We stayed with host families, went surfing, took Spanish classes, cooked Paella, toured the city and the country, and worked on a Farm. To those people who say life-changing experiences can only happen over the course of at least few months, you are wrong. Having gone on this trip with Gogi Abroad once before as a camper, and now as a leader-in-training, I can confidently say that both trips have been nothing short of life-changing.
Some of my favorite moments were speaking with my host mom, Pepa, in the kitchen of her humble apartment. Our conversations not only improved my Spanish skills, but also built up a strong connection. Homestays create a sense of culture-immersion like nothing else. When living with a local family/individual in a country, one gets to understand the authentic culture and lifestyle of that country. The lessons I have learned and memories I have shared with my host mother are ones I will cherish for a long time to come.
While we stayed in the old part of Cádiz, we took 5 Spanish classes at a small school called K2 Internacíonal, located in Plaza Mentidero. Evelyn and I spent the week in 2 different higher-level, discussion-based classes, each composed of students from all different walks of life, all over the world. The boys spent the week in an interactive-beginner Spanish class, where they spent each morning walking around Cádiz, getting to know the culture and the people. Although this may surprise you, the 5 classes I took were one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was something about learning a language with people from all over the world and of all different ages – but in the same place. I became very close with the group of people in my class, and I loved getting to know each of them while also improving my Spanish skills. And I know for a fact Evelyn and the boys loved their classes too.
After Spanish class, we all walked home to our respective host families and shared a home-cooked lunch with them. We then either took a siesta or walked around town until we met up as a group. We met up in Plaza San Antonio, usually around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. There, we would eat a snack while debriefing the morning and talking about the rest of our day. Most days we went to la playa (the beach), or fuimos a hacer surf (went surfing). One day the boys biked along the beach, and Evelyn and I took a Salsa dancing class with a local expert. After the afternoon activity we would go home, shower, rest, or recharge in any way we needed, before meeting up again. We then met up again to either walk around the city or watch the World Cup in Plaza Mina. Watching fútbol (soccer) in Spain during the World Cup was very exciting for everyone. The Plaza was filled with people wearing shades of red and yellow and cheering ¡Vamos España! (Let’s go Spain!). Every night we ate dinner with our host families at about 9 pm, and then had free time to hangout in the Plazas until 11 pm. We left the city for Málaga and camping near the beach on Tuesday the 26th. We stopped at a beautiful beach in Bolonia, Spain for the day. The sky was so clear we could see the coast of Morocco in the distance. At the beach, we walked through ancient Roman ruins, hiked a giant white-sand dune, and swam in crystal clear blue water. The rest of the week was composed of cooking our own meals in the cabins, visiting small white-towns (such as Conil and Vejer de la Frontera), and working on a farm nearby.
The main focus on our work at the farm was bee-keeping and replenishing the land with plants and vegetation that bees enjoy. We worked hard to clear weeds and rocks in order to plant a beautiful bee garden up on the mountain. We planted flowers and trees and even mapped out an area for a stream to flow through the garden. These two days on the farm were very educational and enriching for the entire group. We learned a lot about farming in the South of Spain, the devastating decline of bee populations and how it affects the environment, and made connections with two wonderful people named Jorge and Karmit.
Everyone gained so much more than they expected on this trip. Going to a new country at a young age can be scary; it definitely takes bravery, openness, and adaptability. On this trip we learned about a new culture, a new language, and most importantly about ourselves. In the words of Evelyn Lewis, a student on the trip, “[this trip] really opened up my mind to different ideas and ways of living, which was just incredible.”