7 November 2023
Heidi C, Upper Sixth
Our Spanish trip to Valencia in the October half term break had the perfect balance of cultural immersion, language practice and free time. Not only could we tailor our trip to what we each wanted to see and do, but we could also recharge, meaning we were energised and excited for each new day as it arrived.
Practising our Spanish speaking skills in an everyday setting was challenging for some of us at the beginning, but as the week went on it began to feel more natural, whether we were ordering lunch, asking questions about the cultural sites we visited, getting our bus passes, or even engaging in full Spanish conversation with technicians in Sephora to find out which was the best mascara! We loved how the language school made us feel as if we were Valencian locals, commuting there each morning and grabbing a ‘café con leche’ in our breaks, which was a really nice way of getting to know the Valencian way of life and the pace of the city.
The range of activities planned meant there was something for everyone, including a trip to an archaeological museum, a salsa and bachata dance class, a visit to the aquarium, playing volleyball on the beach, and experiencing the incredibly futuristic Arts and Science Centre, as well as being able to get a feel of the city in a relaxed, informal setting and learning about its history with the help of our guides, Paco and Mario.
We are all really grateful to Mr López, Mrs Poullain, Miss Dellarosa-Ratti, Dr Dixon and Miss Mackay for the independence we were given, as well as the preparation we had from studying Spanish in school. It meant we felt confident enough in our conversational skills to really engage with locals and language teachers, feeling super proud of ourselves when we managed to pass undetected as foreigners! What I loved most about the language school in particular (even though we had to wake up quite early) was the way we got to know the girls in other year groups and were able to discuss topics such as current politics, the economy, feminism and gender-equality, all in Spanish, which was unexpected but refreshing.
Another of my personal highlights was the array of street art we walked past and took in every day, recognising where a particular graffiti artist had been, leaving specific trademark figures included in each of their works. Overall, we’d like to say a big thank you to all our teachers, including Mrs Nollet, who organised the trip, for giving us the freedom to explore the city ourselves and live out the Valencian lifestyle.