History, culture and fun: Students see Spain in two-week trip

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Real Alcázar de Seville. Photo courtesy of Kelly Saldaña.

During early June, a group of 23 Lowell Spanish students went to Spain for two weeks. This educational trip was coordinated through Centro Mundolengua, a Spanish immersion and culture program. It was offered to Lowell students for the first time, and was coordinated and chaperoned by Spanish teacher Carole Cadoppi and math teacher Francisco Rosales.

The trip was a combination of recreation, cultural events and study, according to Cadoppi.

Students spent the first week of their stay in Seville, living with a host family. They had classes every morning where they studied Spanish history, culture and current events, and learned about what they were going to visit and do that day. The students were led around the city by two guides. Although their days were filled with activities, students still had lots of free time and a curfew of 12:30 a.m., according to junior Kelly Saldaña.

Through living with a host family, students got to experience life in someone else’s shoes. At the beginning of her trip, Saldaña said that the living situation was awkward, but by the end, she and her hosts had become comfortable with one another. “We were dancing in the kitchen listening to Shakira and Despacito with [my host mom] and all of her daughters while she was cooking,” Saldaña said.

“I think a lot of European culture, and this is evident in Spain, is about enjoying life and not so much about living to work,”

Metropol Parasol in Seville. Photo courtesy of Kelly Saldaña.

Students got to see how Spanish culture is different than American culture. The Spaniards in Southern Spain are more relaxed; after school and work they hang out with their friends and many drink on the streets, according to Saldaña. “I think a lot of European culture, and this is evident in Spain, is about enjoying life and not so much about living to work,” junior Angela Aragon said. “So it was nice to be in that environment where they just really don’t want you to stress out.”

In addition to being immersed in Spanish life, students learned about Spanish history. For example, they visited Columbus’ tomb and learned about things like the Reconquista, the unification of Catholic Spain, as well as Columbus’ voyages. Aragon was intrigued by the Spanish perspective on Columbus. “For the Spanish, Columbus is still kind of a hero because he discovered something that they thought was impossible,” she said. She was surprised that the Spanish focused more on Columbus’ heroism than on the genocide that he helped set into motion, which is widely recognized in San Francisco.

Students also explored the center of the Seville, a former medieval town, and learned about Spanish history through studying its architecture, according to Cadoppi. “You see what was important in medieval life, how they structured these cities,” Cadoppi said. For example, having tall buildings and thin streets blocked the sun from beating down on the city’s inhabitants, according to Cadoppi.

For the second half of the trip, students ventured outside of Seville, though they still stayed with their host families most nights. They went to Cadiz to visit the beach, to Granada for the Alhambra palace and fortress and to Cordoba to see the Great Mosque of Cordoba. The highlight of the trip for Aragon was getting to meet and talk to students from Lowell that she never would have bonded with otherwise, whereas the highlight of Saldaña’s trip was going to a theme park in Seville, the Isla Magicá.

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Saldaña highly recommends going on this trip. “It’s such a unique experience,” she said. “There’s so much freedom, you can go wherever you want, you can do whatever you want to do when you’re not with your group. But then the group takes you so many places, you can see so many things.”

The same trip is being offered next summer and is again being coordinated by Cadoppi.

Plaza de España in Seville. Photo courtesy of Kelly Saldaña.