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September 7, 2023

An Unforgettable and Educational Adventure in Spain

This summer was nothing short of amazing as three adventurous students embarked on an unforgettable journey to the vibrant land of Spain. Meet Robert Bodien ‘24 (Physics, Spanish, and Mechanical Engineering), Alexa Carney ‘23 (Cross-Disciplinary), and Emily Palmer ‘24 (Biochemistry).

Three students hug before a mural.

Alexa, Emily, and Robbie hug in front of professional graffiti in the western neighborhood of Salamanca.

The trip was sponsored by Roberts Wesleyan University as an opportunity to study abroad. The trip is open to any student, not just those with the Spanish minor. It is one way Roberts achieves its goal of flourishing people and communities, helping our students understand their status as global citizens in God’s diverse kingdom. Professor Maria Villodre, Roberts’ Professor of Spanish, led the trip.

The Plaza Mayor.

Plaza Mayor, a major public space in the heart of Salamanca

What connected those three students was not just their academics, but their shared love for the Spanish language that began in middle school. This connection grew stronger with every tapas plate they shared and every corner of Spain they explored.

Their trip was more than just a vacation—it was an immersion into a world where education for character became a lived reality.

What was your favorite part of the trip?

Robbie: Friendships. Alexa, Emily, and I became good friends on this trip.

One day, we went to one of the municipal pools and had a blast riding some of the waterslides. Then we bought a watermelon from a fruit stand and split it open on a rock to eat it with our bare hands! 

I really enjoyed the tours and trips that Colegio Delibes led. They provided invaluable information and gave me opportunities to practice Spanish, learn about the culture, and talk with the teachers. 

On one trip, Emily and I toured a Spanish bull farm where we rode horses, learned how the animals are raised, swam, and had paella for lunch, shown below.

 Paella on a plate.

Alexa: For me, relationships are everything. I became very close with Emily and Robbie because of the trip. We learned a lot about each other as well as ourselves. I also got to befriend a lot of the locals.

I also loved seeing art from famous artists in several museums we visited. I saw the Guernica, Starry Night, the Mona Lisa, and more. Some of those were from the weekend we decided to travel to Paris. Getting to experience many locations during our time was definitely a highlight.

2 young women take a selfie.

Emily: I formed strong friendships with Robbie and Alexa. Before the start of the spring 2023 semester I hardly knew either of them. This trip brought us together, and I’m very grateful for that. 

My sightseeing highlights of the trip would have to be in Madrid. Alexa and I spent a weekend there and visited the Palacio Real which is where the royal family of Spain used to reside (pictured above). The whole thing was absolutely breathtaking.

A young man, woman holding a dog, and man stand.

Robbie with his host family: Maite, Luis, and Lágun (the dog).

What was it like living with your host family?

Robbie: Amazing! I stayed with a couple and they really treated me as their own son! Maite and Luis told me family stories and shared artwork. As an engineer, I like to fix things and tinker, so during my stay I fixed broken handles and hung new clothesline ropes when the old ones broke! 

Maite is an extraordinary cook. She made traditional Spanish dishes and some of the richest recipes were the dishes from her hometown, San Sebastian.

4 young people take a selfie and smile.

Alexa: Our host family has a special place in my heart. Our host mom was the sweetest woman I’ve ever met and made us feel so welcome. Our host dad was equally as sweet and their relationship together was adorable. The host son and I became good friends and still keep in touch.

What’s one new word/phrase you picked up in Spanish?

Robbie: A colloquial adjective not commonly taught to Spanish language learners is “majo” which means very nice when describing personality, but can also mean good-looking or attractive when describing appearance. 

During my last week, I was told “¡No llores, Majo!” (“Don’t cry, Handsome!”) when it was time for me to say goodbye.

A young woman takes a selfie in a mirror while making a kissing face while a young man smiles next to her.

Alexa: I saw a quote written on a mirror in one of the shops that stuck with me for the duration of the trip which said “No hay camino para La Paz, La Paz es el camino” which basically means “there is no path to peace, peace is the path.”

What are your goals in studying Spanish?

Robbie: I hope to be bilingual. I would enjoy becoming a local guide for a short time in Spain, if my Spanish progresses far enough.

Alexa: Knowing Spanish would help me become a better flight attendant and business owner, two of my career goals. I want to connect with and help those who speak Spanish. If possible, I would also consider moving to a Spanish-speaking country for a period of time.  

Emily: I also hope to be bilingual. I want my future kids to be bilingual and I would like to easily treat spanish-speaking patients in a hospital setting.

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