A great spin on Spain

In reality nothing is perfect, but when it comes to doing an internship in Valladolid, Spain, it gets pretty close! I have already enjoyed my time here so much that I know it’s going to be hard for me to leave after these short three months.

Valladolid is about the size of Buffalo in population, but looks completely different. Surrounding the city are many plateaus and hills that make it unique. In fact, my home here is on a hill in Barrio Giron. This means that I climb al least 450 stairs (yes, I counted) coming from work on the weekdays which I do not mind at all.

My favorite time of day is in the late morning when I go to the English school where I intern. The city is alive. Everyone is walking to their job, opening up their shops, going to the outdoor markets, visiting friends at cafes or shopping.

I love when I am asked to run an errand because I enjoy observing the busy streets and smelling all of the aromas from the cafes and markets. My favorites are the smells of fresh bread and coffee. It all gives me a positive jolt to continue exploring what Valladolid has in store!

It has been quite cold and cloudy here — although no snow — so everyone is still dressed in their winter jacket, scarf, hat, and maybe even gloves when walking from one place to another. I notice that many people, especially older women and couples, link arms or hold hands while walking side-by-side. I think it is adorable and shows how close and comfortable people here are with one another.

From 2 o’clock, when most schools are done for the day, until about 5 o’clock, the city basically comes to a halt and rests. I personally like this because I get to go home and relax so I can continue the rest of my day full of energy.

Almost everybody participates in this “siesta” time where lunch, the most important meal of the day, is at home with the family. What follows afterwards depends upon the family, but I specifically enjoy playing with my little sisters before I go back to my work.

Many times while on a student exchange, host families can sometimes “make or break” your visit. I absolutely love my family and I find myself quite lucky! I have two young host parents, Esther and Jose, and two little sisters Silvia (6) and Carolina (3). I’ve never had a sister so I love playing and learning from these two little balls of energy. I will definitely never have a day where I am bored as long as I am with my family.

Since Jose is away much of the time for work, I help Esther out by walking the girls to and from school every day. This gives me quality time with them to teach them English and get to know them better every minute.

Last weekend, Esther taught me how to make a popular dish made here in Spain called Tortilla de Patata (Potato Totilla or “cake”). This consists of potatoes, onions, and eggs and is made on a frying pan. My first attempt turned out great and this dish is extremely delicious.

Chorizo is also a common food here that appears like a mini salami stick and tastes a lot like pepperoni and sausage. Everybody loves to eat chorizo, especially for tapas!

Tapas are like little appetizers at restaurants and bars that bring people together at night. It’s very normal to see groups and couples out every night having tapas with a drink or two. The first night I had tapas, my friend and I ordered three random items since we didn’t understand the menu too well, and they turned out great!

One of my primary classes.

One of my primary classes.

Lastly and definitely not least, the International Immersion Institute! This English school is exactly why I am here. It is located in Plaza Mayor, the heart of the city filled with shops, cafes, and businesses.

For now, I am observing and assisting in several classes. There are various classes with ages ranging from 3 to 60 yeas old. I help with a few adult classes, one-on-one immersion classes for adults, and several classes with kids under the age of twelve.

I love being in the classroom, teaching my native language, learning more about my language, and playing with the children. I am adapting fast to the lesson plans, so I hope to be teaching small lessons soon!

When I travel, one of my mains goals is to learn the language. I have learned Spanish for four years in high school and after doing a student exchange in Brazil for a year, I am advanced in Portuguese. Knowing the grammar of Portuguese well has honestly made learning Spanish more difficult than I imagined. Nevertheless, I am learning more and more Spanish everyday. All it takes is some practice and listening!

I will be going to Barcelona this weekend for the first time, so you all will hear all about it in a couple of weeks!

About the author

Alyssa Crespo

My name is Alyssa Crespo. I grew up in a little town called Fredonia, New York, and have lived there my whole life. I am 20 years old, and I’m currently still living with my family which entails my mother (Kate), my father (Jamie), and my two brothers (Forest and Sean). My major is the Social Sciences, but I still have yet to figure out what I will be doing with my Associates degree and what I will be doing afterwards for college. Spring semester of 2016 I will be doing the International Internship in Valladolid, Spain. I absolutely love learning new things every day, and I’m very passionate about what I do. I enjoy reading a lot. I also love to hula hoop dance and do yoga every day. I have my own henna business; henna is a temporary and natural tattoo, an art mainly practiced in the Middle East. I’m very interested in languages. I went on exchange in Brazil for a year and I became fluent in Portuguese. I learned Spanish in high school for four years, and I’m currently taking a sign language class which I absolutely love, so I’m also considering going into language for my education major. Food is my best friend. When I was younger, I was very picky. Since I’ve been to Brazil, I had to be polite and try everything people put in front of me; therefore, I learned to love a variety of foods and try new things. I cannot wait to see what Spain has in store for me. I am beyond excited to go on another adventure, share my culture, and learn about Spain!