By Ana Balcells
When this hike was first announced, I have to admit I was very surprised- I had no idea there were mountains anywhere near Madrid! But sure enough, only a short train ride away from our bustling city are the Sierras. During the winter, these mountains apparently receive quite a lot of snow, making them a hub for practicing all kinds of winter sports. However, since I’m not a big fan of the snow, when we arrived I was thrilled that we were there one of the equally beautiful sunny spring days.
At the mountain, we were joined by a group of Spanish families, both parents and children. Each of us paired up with one of these Spanish speakers. After about an hour, we finally reached our destination-a Roman bridge! This bridge is an original, making it more than twenty centuries old! We enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch at this vista point, giving us a better chance to converse as a whole group.
While the conversation up to this point had been in Spanish, on the way back we switched to speaking in English. After all, this hike was meant to be a two way cultural exchange. By speaking in both English and Spanish, both parties were better able to share elements of each of our cultures. During our hike, we each had a chance to chat with quite a few of the locals, and we discussed everything from Spanish TV shows to cheerleaders at American football games. We also got a chance to see the inner workings of a Spanish family-a part of Spanish culture which is every bit as important as the language.
More students will have this same opportunity during the second round of “Come Around Sunday”, and I would highly recommend it for anyone who wants to share some great conversation with an equally great view!