Before arriving in Spain I couldn’t help but harbor some reservations. This trip to Madrid has been my 3rd visit to Spain, however, I couldn’t help feeling nervous and anxious to spend a month in a foreign country. I assumed that it would be hard to have genuine friendships with Spanish kids, as I was overwhelmed with the differences I perceived within the two cultures.
Of course it was difficult to become accustomed to daily life in a foreign country. As an American, it was very strange and at first uncomfortable to eat dinner at 10pm. But after coming to the realization that this was just part of Spanish culture, I eventually learned to enjoy and see the value in a later meal schedule. I am so grateful that I had an amazing host family that gave me endless, genuine support to my transition into Spanish culture.
In the beginning of the program it was very easy and tempting to stay in groups of American kids. It was comfortable. However, through the wonderfully designed program, Spanish and American kids were able to get past their differences and see the similarities they shared. As I became more open to Spanish culture, I began to realize that Spanish kids were just like me. Through shared interests in normal teenage things like sports and music, I
was able to make many great Spanish friends. As I am writing this now, weeks later, I still keep in touch with people I met during this program. In this month, I saw the power that language has in unifying people of seemingly polar backgrounds.
INESLE helped me take my Spanish ability to places I never would have dreamt possible. I was able to take what I learned in my though-provoking and informative classes and practice it with my family, Spanish friends, or whomever I needed to communicate with. By the end of my month long stay in Spain, I was able to seamlessly have philosophic conversations with Spaniards.
INESLE taught me more than just how to speak Spanish. By spending a month immersed in Spanish culture, I gained a new perspective about the world. Although it may not be easy to realize, we share this world with billions of other people from distinct cultures. From all my amazing experiences in Spain, I truly feel like I am a global citizen, connected to this world with frankly more similarities than differences.
I can’t thank the directors, teachers, host families, and Spanish students of INESLE enough for giving me one of the most fun and transformative experiences of my life. ¡Que nos veamos pronto!
Phillips Academy (Andover, Massachusetts)
INESLE was an incredible experience that I never thought I would have the courage to participate in. I am so glad that I pushed myself to go, because it was without a doubt, one of the best experiences of my life. I met so many new friends, my Spanish improved significantly, and my self-confidence soared. While the first week of the program was very difficult emotionally for me, everyone was so supportive and welcoming, and helped me through until I was laughing and smiling constantly. Funnily enough, upon returning to the US, I felt a strange sense of "homesickness" and longing to be back with my incredible host family. I loved the Spanish classes, "one-on-one" conversations, eye-opening excursions, and the fabulous memories intertwined throughout the entire trip. INESLE has made me grow as a person and improve my self-esteem, and this is something that I will never forget and will always be grateful for. I want to thank everyone in INESLE for all they have given me. It was truly a remarkable and incredible month.
Andover High School (Andover, Massachusetts)
Participando en INESLE era una experiencia asombrosa para mí y un gran manera para pasar mi verano. Al principio del programa, era difícil para hablar solo en español u me preocupé que no estaba preparado para hablar y vivir en un país extranjero por un mes, pero al final yo podía escribir y dar un discurso en español en frente de profesores, compañeros, y padres en la ceremonia de clausura. Durante mi tiempo en el programa, aprendí mucho sobre español y mejoré mis habilidades. También, podía sumergirme en la cultura de España a través de excursiones increíbles y pasando tiempo como mi familia anfitriona. Me gustó mucho visitar los sitios famosos de Madrid, Segovia, Toledo, y el Camino de Santiago. Durante
estas experiencias, me volví más cercana a mi hermana anfitriona, sus amigos, y mis amigos americanos nuevos. Todas las personas que yo conocí durante INESLE, incluyendo mis amigos, mi familia anfitriona, profesores, y directores eran amables, cariñosos, y comprensivos. Nunca he hecho nada como INESLE, pero mi primera experiencia era asombrosa y nunca la olvidaré. Me permitió crecer como persona y ensanchar mis conocimientos de otras culturas y partes del mundo. Es increíble que hemos tenido esta experiencia en una edad joven, y soy muy agradecido. Muchísimas gracias a todos por darme esta oportunidad.
Participating in INESLE was an amazing experience for me and a great way to spend my summer. At the beginning of the program, it was hard to speak only Spanish and I worried that I wasn't prepared to speak and live in a foreign country for a month, but by the end I was able to write and give a speech in Spanish in front of teachers, classmates, and parents at the closing ceremony. During my time in the program, I learned a lot about Spanish and greatly improved my skills. I was also able to immerse myself in the culture of Spain through incredible excursions and spending time with my amazing host family. I really enjoyed visiting the famous sites of Madrid, Segovia, Toledo, and the Camino de Santiago. During these experiences, I became closer to my host sister, her friends, and my new American friends. All the people I met during INESLE, including my friends, host family, teachers, and directors, were kind, caring, and understanding. I have never done anything like INESLE before, but my first experience was awesome and I will never forget it. It allowed me to grow as a person and expand my knowledge of other cultures and parts of the world. It is incredible that we have had this experience at a young age, and I am very grateful for it. Thank you so much to everyone for giving me this opportunity.
Austin Prep (Reading, Massachusetts)
INESLE Madrid 2016 was an experience of a lifetime. Not only did I make lifelong friends, but I also learned a lot of Spanish. I am so happy I chose to do INESLE this summer because it helped me to step outside my comfort zone and do things I never thought I could do. I loved making new Spanish friends who I'm sure I'll stay in touch with for a long time. From the teachers to the monitors to the kids in the program I can't thank everyone enough for making it a summer I will never forget. After INESLE, I also hope to pursue a minor in Spanish in college. I would definitely recommend INESLE to my friends or to anyone because it was such a great experience.
Austin Prep School (Reading, Massachusetts)
INESLE 2016 was one of the best experiences I've had in all my life. I will always remember INESLE forever. When I first arrived in Madrid I was really nervous because I didn't know my host family well but after the first day I felt like I had been living with them always. I felt like part of the family. INESLE helped me find new friends outside of America and helped me improve on my Spanish. Thank you INESLE for having such a great program and I hope to go again next year.
St. Augustine School (Andover, Massachusetts)