Four students from Spain enrich the Wake Forest school community as our 2018-2019 foreign exchange students

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Four students from Spain enrich the Wake Forest school community as our 2018-2019 foreign exchange students

Kensley Hamm, Staff Reporter

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Ana

Senior Ana Lores spent a semester here and was always excited to improve her English Skills, as well as take part in new experiences.

“I think that in Spain, since we are so young, the English Language is so important to learn,” Lores said. “I want to do my degree in Spain in English.”

A 2017 poll by Spain’s CIS state research institute noted that 60 percent of Spaniards recognize that they can’t speak, read or write in English.

English is, however, the most-spoken second language in Spain, the poll states, with 27.7 percent of those who responded saying they speak it.

In the future, Lores believes that this experience will help her greatly. In Spain, she said they are raised with the idea that a person with the ability to speak English has more opportunities for jobs and working.

Lores had the opportunity to experience holidays in America and expressed that was one facet she enjoyed.

This year, Lores became a part of the  tennis team, which helped her achieve her goal of making new friends and getting better at sports. She said the team was very nice, and was the best thing here.

“Here, I do more sports, I’d say,” Lores said. “The sport is more of your life and all that.”

Coming to a new country was a major adjustment for Lores. She took classes with teachers and classmates whose native language is different from her own.

“In class, when the teacher talks, it’s so difficult to understand everything, but most of the time I can understand,” Lores said.

Lores expressed trepidation over the rigor of the classes. She said they’re very difficult, but she believed that she would do well.

Lores also wasn’t worried about staying in touch with her Spanish culture. She believed that with her personality, she would be able to bring some aspects of her culture to America.

Lores found one stereotype of America true. She says, “They eat so much food.”

She believes that the people in the United States would benefit from being more open. She says that in Spain, there is more trust and more hanging out with friends.

While here, Lores missed Spain, but more specifically, the friends she left behind. She kept in touch with them through texts and calls.

Lores said, “I think that they miss me so much, so they call me every day, and so I’m grateful for that, but I think that it’s more difficult for me than them.

Guillem

As one might expect, Guillem Tabernero studied abroad for new experiences and to gain a better knowledge of all things American.

“To learn the culture, to see how it works, how America is, and to learn English because I think it’s very important for people who are not from America to learn,” Tabernero said.

Tabernero is completing his junior year of high school with us and enrolled in classes such as Honors English 3.

Education is compulsory in Spain for ages 6 to 16. At 16, students like Tabernero can continue on to upper secondary, known as Bachillerato.

Switching schools is always an adjustment. Every school is different, but schools in two different continents are very distinguishable.

Tabernero noted a few differences between his school in Spain and here.

“In Spain, we stay in the same classroom, and here, all the students move, and it’s kind of crazy because you have to go in five minutes. I prefer the schools in Spain. In my school we use iPads and here we write everything, so it’s different.”

Other than running into his fellow Spaniards, Tabernero is constantly surrounded by American teenagers. He has a different opinion on our school’s student body.

“I see a lot of different people. Some of them are very crazy, and some of them take their studies very seriously,” he said. “I prefer American kids.”

According to several Spanish teens responding on Quora.com, most high schools in Spain do not offer clubs like music and theater or organized sports.

Spanish teens seeking these experiences must attend private conservatories or join local teams. Tabernero mentions that the school spirit linked to athletics stands out the most to him.

“You’re great fans of the school, so you go to football games and other stuff, but where I’m from, nobody goes to student football games or soccer games or anything, so I think it’s my favorite thing here.”

While in the major cities like Madrid and Barcelona, high schools are larger, most schools have 400-500 students compared to our current enrollment of 2,300 plus.

When asked what one thing he would change about America, he mentioned a trend that may reflect the large size of the school.

Tabernero said, “I don’t like how I see, for example, when I go to lunch, and I see people with earbuds just eating alone, so I think that this is the thing I would change.

Pedro

Pedro Mercadal Compte, at first, found the initial transition to American life difficult.

“The homesickness is hard. You are going to be here for like 10 months,” Compte said. “You miss your friends and family, but after about a month you are adapted, so it’s good.”

According to Compte life in Spain and America differ on many levels.

Like the United States, the population of Spain is rising, according to worldpopulationreview.com and stands at 46.4 million in 2019.

In contrast, the population of North Carolina alone is about one-fourth of that with 10.5 million in 2019.

“The way that they live, like all the houses, the streets, all the simple stuff you do is totally different in Spain,” Compte said.

Compte decided to study in America because he wanted to experience American life and, “because I’ve never been here before, so that’s one reason.”

His host family has been accommodating to his transition into America.

“They helped me with stuff I had to do before I came to school and with soccer,” Compte said.

Sports play a big role in Compte’s life. He has always played soccer but is also interested in trying other sports.

“I’m on the track team now. I like it, but it’s hard and stuff,” Compte said. “It gives me something to do afterschool.”

There’s a wider variety of activities at Wake Forest than provided in Spain.

“It’s bigger, and you have so many sports to choose from. At my school you had volleyball and soccer,” Compte said. “The education and technology that you have here is better than in Spain.”

He hopes to travel to many different parts of America, with a few specific goals in mind.

“I want to go to California and see some parts of the United States. It’s famous because it is so beautiful, and it has big cities. I want to see them,” Compte said.

When asked of his future plans, he was not against immigration to America.

“I would consider it, but not now,” Compte said. “Maybe in a few years because here you have so many opportunities, and with English you can go wherever you want.”

The people in Spain mostly reacted the same way to Compte’s journey to America.

Compte said, “In Spain everyone wants to go to America and wants to see America. They were all saying things like, ‘wow you are going to America.’”

Patricia

Patricia Macias Vadillo arrived in suburban Wake Forest from a tropical island in Spain, and has confronted all the changes that accompany her exchange adventure.

The students she is surrounded by, the time frame of our classes, her new host family: these are all things that Vadillo has had to grow accustomed to very quickly. For some, it’s hard to imagine picking up your belongings and leaving your hometown to go live in a country across the world.

The climate and general environment of Wake Forest is something that Vadillo has expressed to be quite dynamic. When asked what she likes about living here better than Spain, Vadillo replied with strong fondness of her new surroundings.

“The weather, the people, the food, everything. Except for talking in English all the time,” she said. “Where I live, we live on a tropical island where we have sand all the time, and here you have storms every day… Everything is different.”

When it comes to school schedules, Vadillo has struggled with the changing of classes. She also was not used to having such an early start to her school days every morning. In some ways, the schools in Spain function almost inversely to ours.

“Normally I’m in the same room all day in Spain, and the teachers are the ones who change,” Vadillo said. Here, she explains, “I have to go running from one class to another to be on time.”

The life of a high school student presents a wide variety of opportunities and activities. Sports, parties, extracurriculars, dances – the list goes on. We only have a short number of years to take advantage of these opportunities, but exchange students such as Vadillo have even less time to experience them whilst being here in the United States.

“I definitely have to go to prom,” Vadillo said. “I want to see snow. I want to make a snowman. Every time someone offers to do something, I’m like, ‘Yes!’”

Her family and friends were obviously sad to see her go, but Vadillo said that “they were so excited” for her to have this new experience. Some of the negatives she described about being a part of the exchange student program were missing her family, ”not being able to explain what you’re thinking as well as you do in your mother tongue,” and not being able to do all of the things she has grown so accustomed to doing in Spain.

Despite these struggles, Vadillo also explained some of the upsides of studying abroad.

“It’s a new experience,” Vadillo said. “You’re going to learn English. You’re going to have new friends. You’re going to live with a lot of things you’re not used to living with.”

As far as experiencing the culture of Spain goes, Vadillo made suggestions that those of us who haven’t been there should try. There’s different foods, landmarks, and climate.

When visiting Spain, “you have to eat a tortilla,” Vadillo said. “You have to take photos with the monuments… For every person, it’s a different experience.”

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