Spanish Exchange to San Sebastian

In March a group of Upper IV girls had a fantastic week in the Basque country in the north of Spain when they spent a week in San Sebastian at a sister Mary Ward School.

Each girl stayed with a different Spanish family, enjoying getting to grips with the language and culture of the country.  All girls found the families generous and kind, offering them the chance to speak some Spanish but more importantly, to understand the differences between being a teenager in Spain and England.

The week began with a glorious walking tour of San Sebastian, visiting old streets and buildings and ending up at the top of the hill with an old castle on it. On the second day girls from both schools travelled to Azpeitia to the museum of St Ignatius of Loyola. Mary Ward was a fervent follower of St Ignatius so all the girls had an interest in seeing where he was born, the chapel where he preached and the Basilica which now stands in the town.

The girls also visited Pasaia where there is project called Albaola, the Sea Factory of the Basques where 16th century boat-building practices are being recreated and studied, as well as the stunning Guggenheim museum in Bilbao.  Everyone enjoyed the building and its conceptual art. At the end of the week the girls had a cooking lesson, learning to make tapas or “Pinxtos” as they are known in the Basque country.

St Mary's Shaftesbury-Spanish Exchange to San Sebastian 1

On our final day, some of us chose to take a trip to Pamplona to check out the old walled city and met up with an old girl from St Mary’s.  Bryony studied Linguistics at Edinburgh University and now combines her love of languages with her love of dance and is teaching dancing in Pamplona.

Some quick thinking was required for our homeward journey as snow had disrupted travel back in the UK.  The girls were unphased by our change of plans and instead enjoyed an unexpected extra day in Spain.

The first leg of our exchange was a great success. The girls had plenty of opportunity to use their language skills, experienced family life in Spain and visited important cultural venues.  We are all looking forward to the return visit in the summer when we will host students from Spain.

Dee Webb