Our visit to the Spanish partner school – an experience report!
We could, of course, report on the visit of our ninth graders to Spain from the point of view of adults and point out how educationally valuable the exchange was, how culturally enriching and how excellently our students were able to improve their Spanish… But much more humorous and realistic is the experience report written by our student Lena B. from class 9b for the first edition of our school newspaper “The Platanus Times – News from the Underground”. We apologise for not shortening for once, we did not want to change the work and assure you, reading the whole article is worthwhile and really fun!
Our Spain trip
Most of us started the at around 3 am. Some had the privilege of being brought to BER by their parents by car. Others had to take the airport express, where they met Dr. Stahl and pestered our poor pedagogue with their questions.
At about 5 o’clock the last of us arrived at the airport with their luggage. Although it was actually very early, we still managed to drive Dr. Stahl completely crazy when he wanted to take attendance. He told us to stand by our classes, but some of us just stood by the other class or even had the nerve to go to the bathroom without signing out. Dr. Stahl was already thinking about going back and ending the exchange when he noticed that his colleague Frau Llorente was not there yet.
At some point, we did manage to board the plane. Even with Frau Llorente and all 30 students. Our two teachers were completely exhausted and didn’t want to have anything more to do with us, but some couldn’t find their seats, others wanted to change seats and others were screaming. At this point Dr. Stahl made the plan to sell us to a travelling circus in Spain or just leave us all together at the airport in Madrid. We should see how we got on. But Frau Llorente, who fortunately still had some empathy left for us, persuaded our doctor not to do so. After an unbearably long flight, we finally arrived in Madrid. We were picked up by a bus that would take us to San Martin. Those of us who sat in the front were lucky and could help themselves to the pistachios of Frau Llorente a few times. Those who sat in the back continued to drive Dr. Stahl crazy. But to his annoyance, he had unfortunately promised the school to bring all 30 teenagers back to Berlin unharmed and complete.
When we arrived in San Martin, we dragged our suitcases to the Spanish exchange students’ school, making a mad racket. You could tell that Frau. Llorente and Dr. Stahl would have loved to have sunk into the ground when we started playing the song “Vamos a la playa” in the streets to make a good impression and show what Spanish professionals we were. In the school, a small buffet was waiting for us, which we plundered completely and as ruthless as we were left nothing to our teachers. To the chagrin of some, they did not starve! After that we had to introduce ourselves to each other in Spanish, which turned out to be a disaster because some of us didn’t even know how to say “Hello, my name is…”. And so we once again embarrassed poor Frau Llorente in front of the other Spanish teachers. We really hope that she won’t take it too badly. After that the teachers didn’t want to have anything more to do with us, because they sent us home with our exchange partners.
In the evening, Dr. Stahl and Frau Llorente wanted to go to a small restaurant to talk nastily about the students again and to process the events of the day over a delicious paella. But just as they were about to talk about the most horrible child of all, Martin (name changed by the editors) came into the restaurant with his host family and that was the end of the evening for our poor teachers for good!
But we had thoroughly underestimated the two pedagogues, because they were hatching a terrible plan for tomorrow to get back at us.
The next morning, we met punctually at 10:00 in the school. Here a hug was distributed, here and there a kiss and many tears were shed. We were glad to finally have each other again. By then, at the latest, most of us realized that we should have paid better attention in Spanish. But the worst was yet to come!
We wanted to visit an old monastery ruin, which none of us young people really wanted to do, because we preferred to sit around with our cell phones. But when we were supposed to walk there, it was over for many of us! The farthest most of us had ever walked was from the classroom to the music room. And now we were also supposed to walk three hours to get to this monastery. How could we teenagers be expected to do that? We already had half our lives behind us, and our bones wouldn’t last much longer! However, it turned out to be anything but easy to do a hike with 61 students. The teachers tried to divide themselves in such a way that two ran in front, two in the middle and two at the end. But there were always at least 7 students running 100 meters behind the last two teachers.
Arriving at the ruins, beads of sweat ran down our necks, we were completely out of breath. And yet we still had to endure a guided tour.
Finally, however, we started walking back, because the teachers realized that it was pointless to continue doing something with us. Halfway back, the teachers didn’t care about the last group. They just left us alone in the pampas. We tried to find the way with Google Maps, which unfortunately did not help us, because there was no cell phone reception. Many of us outcasts were already worried that we would have to spend the night here under the open sky, others were very positive and convinced that we would eventually find a pizzeria where we could stop. But whatever we did, we did not find the smallest pizzeria. We were almost dying of hunger, but luckily someone found some nuts in their backpack for us to feast on. If we hadn’t had these miracle fruits, we probably would have really starved to death in the end!
No one knows how, but in the end, we did manage to find our way back to the village. But two of us also managed to get lost in the village of San Martin. From reports we learned that they tried to ask people for directions, but since they didn’t know where to go, it was hard to help them. But one of us finally took pity and sent them our location.
After this horror action, most of us went home and the teachers were sure they would have paid us back, but revenge is sweet!
Today we wanted to take a trip to Madrid, but who knew? Already at the beginning there were problems! Some had communication difficulties and therefore did not find the bus stop where we had arranged to meet. But when everyone was finally complete, some had to go to the baths again. Before we all managed to get on the bus, it had already been an eternity. Luckily, one of us was smart enough to bring a portable loudspeaker with him so that we could alternate between rock and pop music on the bus. Probably the teachers had already had enough of us 61 children from this point on.
Arrived in Madrid, we visited a very beautiful park, but we young people found our cell phones more interesting than any green stuff!
The teachers tried to teach us something about the history of the city, but we are hopeless cases. But at some point, the teachers gave up with us and sent us to our free time. But what everyone found interesting was to choose the lunch menu at Burger King or McDonalds. We were all specialists in that! Besides, you could change the order boards into English and so we were right, we could very well get along in Spain without knowing a word of Spanish. The only thing we needed was a charged cell phone and enough mobile data. Unfortunately, most of us did not want to see any sights after lunch, so we went from one souvenir store to the next and stopped in between at candy stores, where we spent all our money.
Somehow, we then split up at some point and moved in smaller groups through the city. At some point we noticed that we, should be 5 min ago at the agreed meeting point, but since we had already somehow moved through half the city, we decided to take a bus. What turned out to be a disastrous idea. We got off again and ran like crazy through the city, whereby again some of us got lost. Somehow, probably by some miracle, we came up with the idea of using Google Maps, but even then, we had trouble reading the map. And then we remembered Dr. Stahl teaching us how to read maps and saying “Guys, you need to know this! People will laugh at you if you don’t know this.” Why didn’t we pay attention? For one time he was right! However, after several wrong turns, we managed to arrive 20 min. late to the meeting point, we thought we would get mad trouble, but our teachers were not yet there, probably had also gone lost.
That day, fortunately we didn’t have to get up that early, as we didn’t meet until 11am in front of the old castle ruins in San Martin.
Frau Llorente needed a short vacation from us, so she went to Madrid to visit her father. So only the other teachers had the pleasure with us. In the castle we learned a lot about the history, there was a small cinema room where a movie was shown for inquisitive students who wanted to learn about the origin of the castle. We could also climb the tower, from which we had a magnificent view.
We took many pictures and enjoyed the warm weather and sunshine. Our teachers were also in a good mood because we didn’t bother them for once. After an hour, all the students were picked up by their host families and taken to a great picnic spot on the edge of a river. After we had fed ourselves well, we students went down to the river, where we threw stones into the water and fell into the water while trying to get over some stones to the other side.
This day was called “Family Day” and we didn’t hang out with our classes. Instead, our host families took us sightseeing or to a Tapas restaurant.
Unfortunately, this was already the last day of our student exchange. To have another unforgettable experience, we went to Toledo, which used to be the capital of Spain. But in 1561, Philip the Second decided to build the Royal Palace in Madrid, after which Madrid became the capital.
First, we all wandered through the beautiful city and visited a museum, before we went off on our own once more. We found the only Starbucks in Toledo and spent a lot of our pocket money there. Later, we wandered through the alleys and went into numerous little shops to buy a few souvenirs before we went in search of a Burger King again, where we could stop for lunch. After lunch we split up again, as some wanted to continue shopping, but others still wanted to see something of the city. We found many small narrow streets. Between the houses, people had stretched their clotheslines and the T-shirts hanging from them blew like pennants in the wind. Some of them were so colorful that you would have thought that some people hung the T-shirts there for decoration. The people we met also greeted us friendly, not like the ones here in Berlin.
After this afternoon also slowly approached the end, we boarded the bus again, which took us back to the San Martin. On the way we stopped at a small place that offered a wonderful view of Toledo. We shot several more photos so that we would remember this view for as long as possible.
When we met back at school this morning, we were all a little saddened. We had a very nice time in Spain and the one week was much too short. We had just gotten used to everything, that we ate dinner so late and that we ran into Frau Llorente and Dr. Stahl every evening when we went for a little walk through the village.
But we still had a few hours!
We thought we would sit together with everyone for the last time and have a cup of coffee, but the teachers just couldn’t resist paying us home. And so, a little later, we were all standing in the gym, having sporting competitions with silly disciplines, during which Dr. Stahl was filming us. After everyone was completely out of breath, we went home to our host families to have a small lunch and pack our bags before meeting again at the bus stop where we were picked up by the bus that took us to the airport.
It was a tearful goodbye! We had gotten along so well and didn’t want to leave at all. Dr. Stahl and Frau Llorente could fly back to Berlin, but we wanted to stay here! But steadfastly refusing to get on the bus didn’t help either. Our Pedagogues must have taken a combat course in our absence, because they got us all on the bus. I will not bring in the parts of Dr. Stahl’s karate kicks here!
At the airport Hannes (name changed by the editors) still had problems to stow away the sword he had bought. So, he stored it in the suitcase of jack (name changed by the editors). Before they gave in the dangerous suitcase. After handing in the luggage, we still had some time before boarding began and so some were able to get the pig’s foot for Frau Bachorz.
And with the boarding of the air plane also our journey ended.
Written by Lena B.