I wouldn't say that I was inspired by one specific thing, but throughout my childhood I have always loved going on airplanes and had an interest in other cultures and the way other people lived in different parts of the world. So, when the opportunity came up to take a gap year after high school, I knew I wanted to go on a big trip to either volunteer or just go explore for myself. Entrelenguas was able to provide me with both the volunteering aspect and the culturally immersed aspect of travel that I was looking for all in one.
Why did you choose Escuela Entrelenguas?
I chose Escuela Entrelenguas because of how small and intimate it seemed. I loved how their focus was on experiencing local and sustainable tourism. It seemed like the best of everything I'd been looking for, and it was!
What was your favorite part about Ronda, Spain?
My favourite part of Ronda, Spain would have to be the size of the city (and its obvious beauty). I am from a small town in Canada, so with Ronda being a similar size I felt very comfortable there.
What made your experience abroad unique?
What made my experience abroad unique would be the Spanish classes. I think (attempting) to learn the language of the country that you are in is really important; it helps you to get a better understanding of the people and the culture.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
I received lots of support during my program. The communication leading up to my arrival was amazing. I arrived at the train station and someone from the program (and my host family) was waiting there for me; they were constantly making sure that I had everything I needed. Everything was planned and organized very well. Being away from home in another country for the first time, the teachers at Entrelenguas and my host family made me feel right at home.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I don't think I would change anything about how my program went. I enjoyed the classes, my host family, and even though I feel like I could've stayed forever, I am happy with the three weeks I decided to stay there. I will definitely be back in the near future!
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
On a typical day, I would wake up and eat breakfast with my host mother, then I would go to the local nursery/preschool that I volunteered at every morning during the week. I would play with the kids, help hand out or run activities, and sometimes teach the kids some English too! After that, I would have free time for a couple hours until going back to my house to eat lunch with my host family.
Later in the afternoon, I had Spanish class for two hours. After class I would have some more free time, then head home for dinner. My host family and I enjoyed watching TV together in the evenings before going to bed.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
In my free time, I enjoyed walking around the streets, exploring trails around the area, or eating some local food!
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
My accommodation was with a family living in an apartment building (very common where I was). There was a couple with two daughters, two cats, and one dog. It was very comfortable. I had my own room and the location of their home was very central, close to the preschool I volunteered at and about 15 minutes (walking) from Entrelenguas.
My favourite part about living with a host family was being able to feel exactly what it would be like to live in Spain. They were so friendly and went our of their way to give me the best experience possible.
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?
One thing I think every participant should know before beginning a host family/volunteer program with Entrelenguas (or any program for that matter) would be to go into it with an open mind knowing that the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it.
Now that you're home, how has your time abroad impacted your life?
I would say that my time abroad has opened my eyes to the way that other people live, has given me the opportunity to do something positive in a community, and has also given me the travel bug! It makes me excited to explore even more that I have yet to see!
Would you recommend your program to others? Why?
I would definitely recommend my program to others! Entrelenguas provided me with a solid base of Spanish, with plenty of room for improvement, considering I was only there for three weeks. They are a wonderful, tight-knit group of young people/educators providing a service that helps you to understand another culture and language better. They make you feel welcome and at home the moment you walk through the door, and will go out of their way to make sure you get the most out of your time with them.
Emma is from a small town called Orangeville in southern Ontario, Canada. She will begin college in September 2017 and she hopes to pursue a degree in art and design. Emma’s trip to Spain was her first time traveling abroad alone. Before embarking on her Europe trip, she worked in retail and at a residential summer camp for about a year to earn enough money to go abroad.