Here’s a few thoughts from Heather’s recent SYLE in Spain…
With friendly locals, lovely spring weather, history around every corner, amazing architecture, and a warm, welcoming home to come home to, traveling through Spain with my specialized SYLE program has been such an amazing experience. I feel so lucky not just to be able to explore Spain, but to get to also explore daily modern Spanish life with a range of different families. From quiet, but chatty evenings at home sharing a meal together in the cities of Sevilla,Valencia,or Barcelona; to family fun days exploring the mountains and castles of Extremadura, during each Servas visit I was able to connect with and learn form my hosts. I enjoyed sharing some stories from my recent ¨around the world¨ trip, as well as discuss typical American life, and of course also enjoyed hearing about Spainish traditions, both modern and old.
Here are just a few highlights from my trip. I was lucky to see some processions for the Cruz de Mayo celebration in Sevilla, which included dancing, singing, decorations, bulls, and holy statues. The flamenco shows in Sevilla really got me feeling the Spanish culture, I´ve never seen or felt such passion in dance and music before. I loved getting lost exploring charming narrow street and plazas in the old walled city of Sevilla, enjoying tapas or a cup of coffee along the way. I saw so much driving or bike riding through the countryside of Extremadura, including visiting castles, a National Park, old villages, picking cherries, and picnicing. A great surprise in Extremadura was the yummy Thai food and relaxing Thai massage from my host (a very international German/Thai family). I visited a variety of museums in Valencia, some being traditional and historically focused, while others seems like they came from the future. In Valencia I also enjoyed playing a Spanish version of Monopoly that is older than I am, as well as teaching my hosts a dice game I play with my family. Barcelona has been blast as well, exploring Gaudi´s architecture, Picasso´s early works, shopping in different neighborhoods, and relaxing on the Mediterranean. Spain has so much to offer, I hope to some back someday.
Staying with my Servas hosts, I´ve been privy to a different side of Spain that I would never see on my own, and gotten to meet some amazing people that I hope to meet again, all while practicing my Spanish. I hope to encourage more people to travel with SYLE, as it is a unique opportunity no traveler should miss.