My classmates still remember how I entered the classroom on February 4, 2022. I don’t. The only thing that jogs my memory of the event is my detailed entry of the day written well over four months ago. In all honesty, February was a complete blur for me. At its pinnacle, culture shock did not treat me well the first month here. I owe most moments of happiness I felt that first month to all the wonderful people here who took me into their fold: namely, my classmates. I can forecast now that this post will not be a light read; the pure amount of time I’ve spent here has lent itself to many memories engraved in my mind that I wish to express on paper before they are lost.
Something that still impresses me to this day is the warmth and comfort felt in the Spanish classroom. People are so comfortable with each other, and they never fail to step up and support their classmates. These past two weeks, I’ve been collecting “yearbook” messages from all my classmates in my own journal; they’ve written me such sweet messages that I know I’ll look back on fondly for years to come.
I sit in the back of the class and spend most of my time talking to Lucia G, Elena, Dani, Miguel, Diego, and Patri. Given I sit in the back of the class, I sit with “El Fondo Sur” (this would be like the Back South or Southside in English). This is the name Miguel, Dani, and Patri have given to their little boisterous club in the back of the classroom — these three are the usual jokesters of the class, but they are all such loving and sweet people. What’s more, they accepted me into their little club of El Fondo Sur. In all honesty, it took me a while to win over the Captain (Miguel — as he describes himself) and the Captainess (Patricia — as she describes herself), but I think all the English help I’ve given them over the months finally convinced them to add me.
All the girls of my class are so sweet. Noelia, Belen, Alejandra, Laura, Andrea, Lucia M, Lucia dM, Natalia, Paula, Claudia, Irene E, Irene R, and Adela have given me such such loving friendships over time. What’s more, they’ve all been so patient in explaining to me so many cultural references and ongoings.
Here are some of my favorite memories with all of these people:
The week before Carnaval in Badajoz, my classmates were loaded with tests. As soon as they finished the last test on Friday, all the girls crowded around my desk and started asking me questions while telling me about Carnaval. That was the first time I got to talk to all of them.
As I mentioned before, the members of El Fondo Sur are quite the jokesters and pranksters. For the longest time, Dani convinced me that he used to shower everyday in the local river that runs through our city (the Guadiana River) alongside Miguel at 5am!
We had a day trip as a class to the local archeological museum and historic Arabic fortress in the city (the Alcazaba of Badajoz). Adela saw me walking alone and lovingly accompanied me for the rest of the day throughout, even buying me churros con chocolate at a local store and explaining everything to me in simple Spanish. What’s more, I remember telling her, Alberto, and Pablo that Dani showered everyday in the river, and they all had a good laugh before telling me that he was just messing with me.
I remember Miguel asking me one day why I didn’t invite the people I liked most in the class to my house in the United States. Dani and Miguel then asked me to list the people whom I liked most in the class.
My math teacher placed my friend Javi in the back of the classroom with me to help with any English-Spanish problems. Over the course of the few months we were together in the back, we shared many laughs and he taught me many words and phrases in Spanish.
People in the Spanish classroom are so supportive of each other. I remember the few times teachers said something nice about me to the class, everyone would applaud and cheer my name. This happened once when the literature teacher praised my interest in learning the language and another time when a teacher announced that I had scored a 9.5/10 on one of my tests.
Some of my teachers would let me use my phone in class to translate words from Spanish into English (without having to interrupt others constantly). Taking advantage of this, Miguel would ask me to check the scores of Rafa Nadal or his favorite soccer team once in a while since they couldn’t use their phones in class.
One of the kids in my class Hugo constantly tries to speak to me in English. The first time I talked to him in English, I interviewed him some simple questions and he’s stuck to English ever since. Once, in front of the class, I bumped into the projector and hurt my shoulder; the pain disappeared as soon as I heard his “BiSmaYaH, jOo aRe oKaI?” :)
My classmate Patri brought me torrijas, a typical Spanish French-toast dish made during Semana Santa. She told me her mother made those specifically for me to try, and she even let me send her mom a voice message thanking her for the torrijas. I was so touched that she willingly brought a Spanish delicacy for the exchange student to try.
Of course, there’s so many more stories where these came from. But I really want to say thank you. Thank you to all my classmates for such a wonderful semester. Before coming to Spain, I used to often imagine what my classroom and social life would look like here. My ideas did not match the reality of the situation at all; the reality far exceeded any idea I had in my head.
The first day I came to class, my English teacher Juan (and our counselor) told everyone in the class to take care of me. And they couldn’t have done a better job. These are the same people who threw me a Prom birthday party because I was missing my Prom back home. I am so thankful for having met all of these people. The better part of my semester has been spent in the classroom, and I definitely would not have improved my level of Spanish as much without the help of all my friends.
Thank you 1 Bachillerato C (my class division is C out of A, B, and C) for giving me the semester of my dreams. Thank you for being so willing to teach me about Spain and everything it has to offer. Thank you for always defending me and helping me in class. Most importantly, thank you for giving me a place I looked forward to going to. I have a beautiful family now to visit for years to come.
Vismaya, you must be lucky to have such good teachers at Spain.
Happy to read your story from dull start to exciting end of the Spanish semester. You will relish beautiful memories Bismajah 🥰