20th February 2014
Writing: Laurie Bishop (Year 9)
On Thursday 13th February, a group of 21 Challoners students, accompanied by Mr Walter and Miss Ashton, travelled to Murcia, Spain for the Year 9 and 10 Spanish exchange. This trip allowed us to learn about both Murcia's history and Spanish culture through the many visits we went on during the week, while further improving our Spanish vocabulary and Spanish language skills.
The first day (after arrival) was spent as a welcome to the city of Murcia and a welcome to the school we were doing our exchange with: the Instituto de Educación Secundaria (IES) La Flota. We had a welcome talk from the headmaster José Hernández followed by a short tour of the school. Following the tour we had a welcome 'breakfast', which was more like lunch, filled with pastries and fresh juice - all of which were made at the school. After the feast, we were given a walking tour of Murcia to learn about the its history, such as the cathederal, while getting to grips with the city we were going to be staying in. The rest of the afternoon was spent with our host families.
The following two days were spent fully with our exchange partners and their families. Many of us visited the beach, Puerto de Marrazom, for football and lunch. Others visited the Seruga valley to learn about the Arabic involvment in Murcia's history, including a visit to an old standing - and still working - water mill in the Seruga valley; while others indulged themselves in the weekend treat of chocolate con churros (a doughnut-like pastry dipped in hot chocolate).
Monday and Tuesday were spent on day trips to cities in that area of Spain. On Monday we visited Cartagena. We had a short tour which involved sights such as the ancient Roman theatre and, just across the harbour, the array of military ships. This trip was concluded by lunch and football at the quiet beach at Santiago de la Ribera. The following day was our long day trip to Granada. After a tough three and a half hour journey we had a short tour of the city before making our way into the valley. Unfortunately our trip was cut short due to the cold and rainy weather; however, from what we saw of the Alhambra Palace we were all taken back by the intracate and detailed carvings on the walls and ceilings. The cold weather continued throughout our visit and our journey home.
The following day we visited the Balneario Termal de Archena, a group of thermal pools. We spent the morning swimming in the heat of the pools with our exchange partners until we took the bus home. In the evening we all met up at a local restaurant for a farewell dinner on the last night of our trip. Members of the IES La Flota staff made farewell speeches, saying goodbye to us all.
The final day was spent with a short trip to the local market, which offered a wide array of fake nik-naks from headphones to watches, along with clothes and shoes and plenty of local food. We then made the long journey home: to, unusually, sunny England.