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Spain 2011

Blog posts are listed in chronological order,

read from the beginning of the trip!

Welcome Home!

Dear Parents,

  Roxana Lopez, Diego Bautista, Antonio Carrera, and I would like to welcome the girls back to the U.S.  After a bit of a wait at customs, we got everyone reunited with their families and home safe and sound.  It has been a real pleasure working with this pioneer group of students.  We wish you a wonderful summer and hope that you will keep practicing your Spanish whenever you can.  ¡Qué pasen unas vacaciones maravillosas y nos vemos en septiembre!

Posted by Mrs. Melissa A. Brown on Tuesday June 21, 2011 at 05:48PM
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Weekend with Family

This weekend my family and I went to their country club. There we swam, got nice tans, an played crazy games of ping-pong. On Saturday night I ate dinner at a crepery with Barbara and some nice Spanish girls. On Sunday we went to la Granja, the summer palace. The gardens and fountains there were amazing. We also saw the aqueduct of Segovia (one that Mr. Wilson would have loved as it was inspired by Roman architecture). It was so much fun! Can´t wait to see you all soon!




Posted by on Monday June 20, 2011 at 12:11PM
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My Family

Despite being in a different country on a different continent six time zones away from my house, I still feel at home every evening when I walk in the front door. My family in Spain functions much the same as my family in the United States. No one has designated chores, but everyone lends a hand each day either taking out the garbage or helping with dinner. Recently, the new chore has been making sure Fiona understands what´s going on. The differences between Spain and the United States can stack up at times, and without my family here to guide me I would be completely lost. During the week, mornings are informal as different people rush off to different places, but on the weekends the mother of the household, Isabel, prepares breakfast, and the entire family eats together. Every evening, dinner follows the same path, but the family doesn´t normally eat until 9:00 or sometimes as late as 9:30. For the first few days, I struggled making this adjustment because after a day of walking I wanted to crawl into bed. Now, I have adapted to the different meal plan along with the extra walking. I also spend much less time watching T.V. and staring at the computer screen, because each evening I spend time with the two children, Yedra and Bruno. Last night, I painted Yedra's nails, and the night before I translated (with much help) Beatrix Potter´s Tom Kitten. All of these activities remind me of my own family and point out the similarities. In the United States, Matthias, Clare, Thomas and Fiona match up perfectly with José, Isabel, Bruno and Yedra. No matter how different the food, the company or the city, I will always view my family in Spain as my home away from home. 

-Fiona Moran

 In Spain, we all found lots of differences as well as similarities between our families at home and our host families. In my host family I found that everyone moved as a separate part of the family. The mother did the cooking and cleaning when she wasn’t working. When she was working, the father stepped in. The kids took themselves to school making them independent in that they were responsible for arriving on time. At night everything changed. After family dinner we either played a game or watched TV all together. Spanish families tend to value their meal times together because its the unique time when everyone is free. In my family the children depend on parents to take them to school. But my family and my host family are similar in that meal times are a family time. Their schedule in general is basically just 2 hours behind mine. They wake up at 8, have lunch at 2, have dinner around 9, and go to sleep at 12. Although A lot of things took getting used to, there was still the sense of home that I find in my house in the United States. 







Posted by on Monday June 20, 2011 at 07:46AM
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Flamenco Lessons and Sangria (light)




Posted by on Saturday June 18, 2011 at 07:59AM
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Flamenco Class

Today after classes we took the metro to the Plaza del Sol then walked to a nearby dance studio. We all changed into our black shirts and skirts and put flowers in our hair then headed to class to learn how to flamenco dance. The instructor was very nice and taught us a fun flamenco dance step by step. We started with the hands. We had to rotate our hands in this graceful way that was very complicated for some of us... Then we learned the simple steps, like the feet and arm movements. Finally, we put it all together and sped it up a bit. We are now all profesional flamenco dancers and plan on coming back to Spain after we graduate from Holton to perform and make a living in Madrid... just kidding. After the classes we hung out on a little patio outside the dance rooms and made Sangria (light, of course). It had various fruits in it, like pears, peaches, apples, bananas and oranges. We all enjoyed out Sangria along with chips and olives (which I tried for the first time today) out on the shady patio in the nice, hot Madrid weather. After we finished our snack we left the dance studio and headed to the International Handicraft Festival (a big group small stores in the Plaza de España). On the way, we stopped for some ice cream and shopped at a little gift shop for small souvenirs and post cards. At the festival, we bought some jewelry, like rings, bracelets, and earings, and gifts for our lovely friends and parents :) Then we took the metro and were dropped off at our houses. We all can´t wait to come home and see you! 5 days!

Love, Amy X♥X♥, amy rose defranco

Posted by on Saturday June 18, 2011 at 03:53AM
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Buenos dias padres! I hope the start of your summer is going well. We are all having lots of fun here in Spain. This afternoon (Wednesday) we went to Toledo. It is one of the most beautiful place I have ever seen! There are cute, little (though some huge) houses on the mountainside and gorgeous churches and sinagogs everywhere. Also, the buildings on either side of the street are really close and have balconies to keep the street shady in the summer and block it from wind in the winter. In one of the television series we watched during Spanish class this year, one of the boys mentioned how lovers could kiss from either side because the balconies are so close. So cute!


After taking a bus tour around Toledo just to get a grasp on the culture, we procceeded to go up approximetely six escalators (hidden under the mountain so as not to look too tacky) to get to the top of the mountain. Once there, our guide asked us if we wanted to go up one long hill or three little hills so of course we chose the latter, being that we thought it would be much less effort in the ¨perfect 95 degree weather¨ as the guide put it. After the first hill we went straight for the ice cream (being Holton girls we love our sweets!) and water. Throughout the afternoon we visited several churches filled with beautiful stain glass, gothic architecture, and paintings. Our guide (who told us he would be speaking to us in Spanglish) told us that where you sat in the church was based on class. In the private chamber in the front sat the royal family. Outside the chamber were the nobles. Then came the large chamber with seats for the choir. They chorus would sometimes have to sing for over five hours and so there was a device on the seat so that they could appear to be standing to onlookers when in reality they were sitting. On the back of this chamber was a wall, behind which the commoners would be. For this reason, in Spain you would not have said¨, ¨I go to church,¨ but rather, ¨I go to hear the sermon¨ because it would have been impossible to see anything. Also, we were able to see the popes´robes and amazing frescos in a museum portion of the cathedral. We also went to a sinagog. A quarter of the population used to be Jewish, and for this reason Judaism is very important to the culture of Toledo. Our guide explained that during the Inquistion under the rule of Isabel and Ferdinand 2000 Muslims were killed while no Jews were killed. In contrast, during a similar occurence in France, approximately 7000 Jews were killed each week. He reminded us that as Americans we sometimes neglect to remember the bad things that our people have done and focus on the bad deeds of our enemies instead (at the time Spain was in control of Europe and most of the other countries hated them because they had the power).


Next, we watched handicrafts being made firsthand. Also, we had the oppurtunity to buy marzipan from nuns in the convent. They couldn´t come out but we ordered through a window and once we paid she spun our merchandise around so we could eat it. She was very nice and it was so good. Finally, we went shopping for souveneirs and squinted through various pictures that our teachers took. Once again, we love it here but can´t wait to see you all soon!






Posted by on Wednesday June 15, 2011 at 04:51PM
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Palacio Real y La Catedral de Almudena

Hola! Today the Holton girls visited Palacio Real (Royal Palace) and Catedral de Santa María la Real de La Almudena (that´s a mouthful!) We took a guided tour (in English unfortunately) of Palacio Real and then went into the Cathedral by ourselves. Becca, Sarah, Amy and Ashley gave presentations (in Spanish!) about different aspects of the Cathedral such as history and architecture. The reconstruction of Palacio Real was completed in 1755, after the original palace (built in 1561) burned down in 1734. The inside of the palace is beautiful, with many paintings, statues, and ornate furniture. My favorite aspect was the magnificent frescos that adorned every ceiling in the palace, depicting everything from Greek gods to the Spanish Empire. The palace was last used for the home of a Spanish monarch in 1931, and now it is only used as a museum/tourist attraction and for ceremonial events. After the palace, the whole group went to a park where we sat for about an hour. We bought ice cream, played soccer, and took silly pictures. Then we went to the cathedral, which was completed in 1993. My favorite part of the cathedral was the many stained glass windows, which showed pictures of saints and other events from the Bible. We left the peaceful cathedral and walked along the bustling streets of downtown Madrid to take the Metro home. Tomorrow we are going to Spanish school with our host sisters! Adiós!

Written by Ashley Holder


Posted by on Monday June 13, 2011 at 06:34PM
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Desde Madrid...

¡HOLA a todos! Hi everyone! Finally here I am! I just wanted to wait for the first week to go by and see how the girls adapted to my beloved Spain. I am thrilled to see how they are developing their language skills and getting more engaged in the Spanish culture, thanks to this wonderful program offered by Holton- Arms in collaboration with CreaEvents in Madrid. I would also like to say that it is so nice to see your daughters having a great time, practicing their Spanish, asking a million questions about this amazing city and getting engaged with their Spanish host families.

Although it is sad to see a week has already gone by, we all, teachers and students, are very excited to have another week ahead of us, visit new places and have new adventures!

Roxana, Antonio and I are very proud of the girls’ great behavior and disposition to be part of this culture.

Besos y abrazos.

Don Diego

Posted by on Monday June 13, 2011 at 06:28AM
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El Escorial



Hola! Today we visited El Escorial, about an hour away from Madrid by bus. The building is currently used as a monastery as well as a school. Ferdinand II built it during his reign after the capital was moved from Toledo to Madrid, and dedicated it to San Lorenzo. San Lorenzo, a martyr, was burned to death on a grill, the reason for which the monastery is shaped like an upside-down grill. We entered through the main courtyard and visited various rooms throughout the monument such as the library and the entryway for the king´s guests. We also saw the chair where the paralyzed king sat to view his subjects and the burial room for the kings and queens with royal offspring, lavishly decorated in gold and marble. Later, the group ate lunch in the small town near the palace, and spent free time talking and walking around before making our way back to the bus station. What a busy day!


 Lindsay xxx


Posted by on Sunday June 12, 2011 at 06:32PM
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End of the First Week


Holton Students in front of the Puerta de Acala 


Today at 2:00 pm, I returned from Spain, more than a bit sad to leave your daughters and the remaining Madrid team of Roxana Lopez, Diego Bautista, and Antonio Carrera.  Yesterday, we spent a lovely day at El Parque del buen retiro, walking around, relaxing, and taking a turn around the lake on boats.  I'll wait to let Tori tell you all about it from her point of view, but I did want to share some great pictures with you and let you know that your daughters are doing a great job!  I feel very fortunate to have spent the first week with them, and can tell you that they are safe, happy, and making their trip leaders very proud to represent Holton in Spain. 









Posted by on Sunday June 12, 2011 at 04:12PM
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Atocha and Reina Sofia

Today, we visited the Atocha train station and the museum of Reina Sofia. In the train station, we learned about the different parts of the station: the metro, high-speed trains for far destinations, and the trains for close destinations. We also learned about March 11th, equivalent to September 11th in America. On this day, the station was bombed and many lives were taken. 

The Museum of Reina Sofia consisted of famous modern art. We were shown around by a nice guide named Victoria. Some of the most famous painters of the museum were Picasso, Dali, and Rusiñol. We saw many different types of modern art such as puntalism, cubism, and some sculptures among the paintings. The paintings were fun to look at because they challenged normal perspective. Overall, the day was very fun. 

We also get to sleep in tonight! 

 -Sarah Smith










Posted by on Saturday June 11, 2011 at 01:55PM
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Tour of Madrid



Today we girls traveled to CENP to spend a few hours of class time with our teachers, Maite and Carmen. After classes and a little bit of a break we celebrated Sannya´s 15th birthday with an amazing chocolatea and rasberry cake, some sweets, and some soda as well as a grouping of three spanish songs that make up the typical birthday tradition in Spain.

Later,the whole group headed off to the metro and rode to a stop along the Gran Via (the equivalent of Fifth Avenue for Madrid). Being a group of teenage girls, we decided to stop into the artisan crafts festival and do some shopping. After some exploration we boarded the Tour Bus and went on the two routes that took us through all the important places in Madrid. In between the two we ate some delicious ice cream and took some great pictures. 

On the tour we enjoyed amazing views of El Palacio Real (the Royal Palace), La Calle Serrano, El Museo de Ciencias Naturales, La Puerta Del Sol, La Plaza De Colón (The Plaza of the Discovery the Americas), and many more important sites in Madrid. While on the bus tour we took in the perfect weather, an amazing view, and each other's company. Below is a picture of the whole group in the plaza dedicated to Christopher Columbus and the discovery of the Americas.

Overall were all excited to visit all the new places and learn all the new information the Madrid holds. We miss our parents but the pace and excitement of the day makes it all worth while.

-Becca Hunsberger




Posted by on Friday June 10, 2011 at 05:22AM
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Mis Quince Años


Today Saanya turned 15 years old!  She started the day with a brownie cake from her Spanish mom, Patricia and a few small gift from the girls and her host family.  Later, all of the joyfully sang "Feliz Cumpleaños" to and "For she's a jolly good fellow" all together in class.  After classes, Don Diego, Sra. Lopez, Sra. Brown, and Don Antonio (in country leader) brought in a cake with candles, candy, streamers, and a special present from Mom and Dad (U.S) to celebrate her.  As a special birthday treat, Saanya got to call home to talk to her family on her day. 


Posted by on Thursday June 9, 2011 at 03:11PM
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Puerta del Sol / Plaza Mayor


Hola familias! We hope you are all doing great and we wanted to make sure you knew we are all having a blast (as my mother would say)! We´ve been taking ridiculous amounts of pictures so that you all can relive our amazing experiences with us.

From what I´ve heard, people seem to love their families, but like we do in our American families, we spend lots of time watching TV.

The food here is AMAZING and I get to try something new every day, although we do make occasional trips to Starbucks. On Wednesday, we took the metro to La Puerta del Sol (or the door of the sun), which is now a plaza full of protesters, and to the Plaza Mayor. La Puerta del Sol is full of great shops and we all hope to return to spend some of our parent´s money... We had a great view from the tops of one of the buildings, a prime place for TV cameras during New Year´s celebrations. We stood directly across from the Casa de Correos (Post Office) where the governor of Madrid currently lives. On New Years, the clock at the top of the building strikes twelve times and on each count people throughout the plaza eat one grape with each toll of the bell.

Currently, the center of the plaza is filled with tents protesting various things, particularly the lack of work and job security, so we could not see the city at its best, though Sr. Bautista reminded us that it was a unique opportunity to see history in the making. We also paid close attention to a famous statue of a bear and tree, both symbols of Madrid, though currently clad in a purple umbrella and signs.

On the way to la Plaza Mayor, we enjoyed delicious pastries, including chocolate Neopolitans, which are to die for. When we reached the plaza we found it filled with characters, such as Bob Esponja (SpongeBob), Hello Kitty, and various headless men in addition to a very scary deer (or a moving christmas tree as someone put it). It was beautiful and we spent lots of time there taking pictures and enjoying the architecture and paintings on the side of the buildings.

Later, we visited a statue featuring Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, the author of Don Quijote de la Mancha, one of the most famous Spanish novels ever written. We finished our day eating ice cream and people watching outside the Palacia Real, but we will return soon to see the inside. We miss you and hope the heat isn´t bringing you down! 





Posted by on Thursday June 9, 2011 at 02:50PM
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El Prado

Today, we had our first real class at CENP. When I say real, I mean the way we will spend the class time for the rest of the trip. First the teachers divided us into two classes (advanced and ... less advanced). The advanced group contained Barbara, Fiona, Saanya, Lindsay, and Clare. The less advanced group contained Amy, Lauren, Tori, Sarah, Ashley, and Becca. We had two hours with one teacher, then a break, then we switched teachers and had another two hour class. Then, we ate lunch packed by our families, and went to the store next to the school for Spanish candy and soda. Then, we met up with our teachers and talked about what our schedule will be for the remainder of the trip. We then left the school and took the metro to the Museo del Prado. It was raining and cold, but inside the museum, the paintings warmed our hearts! <3 haha jk... We saw painting by Diego Velázquez, Hieronymus Bosch, Francisco de Goya, including famous works like "Las Meninas" or "The Family of Philip IV," "The Garden of Earthly Delights, "The Third of May, 1808, in Madrid," and "The Feast of Bacchus." Afterwards we stopped at a vendor on the street for candy and bumper stickers (for our laptops). Then we took the Metro back to the school and walked back to our houses. Now we are spending time with our family and soon we will eat dinner. ¡Hasta mañana!



Posted by on Thursday June 9, 2011 at 05:15AM
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Language Tests and the Finca




To explain everything in just one word, I would have to find a way to combine fantastic, delicious, beautiful, enlightening, and (according to Tori and Lauren) cheese (because of the thousands of pictures we took today and because we made it with our own hands). But due to the lack of power to create a new word that encapsulates everything that happened today, I will have to settle for Absolutely INCREDIBLE!

This morning after an hour long ride from my host family’s house due to the Madrid Monday morning traffic, I arrived at CENP the school at which we will be studying for the rest of our time here. Upon our arrival, we met Sofia, the lady in charge of the students who are learning Spanish as their second language. She showed us around the school and introduced us to our teachers, Carmen and Maite. They then gave us a placement exam and we proceeded to attempt at completing it for the next two hours. After our break, during which we ate our home packed lunches and Spanish coffee from the machine (which for the record is very, very, very strong), we graded our tests. They were longer than our regular Spanish final exam and I, for one, didn’t do very well.

Later, we boarded the bus and while everyone else talked, Lauren, Tori, and I took pictures of absolutely everything we saw out the bus window.

Once we arrived at a hacienda, named Finca Montealegre, we prepared our cameras and jackets (it was freezing today), we toured around the house and learned the history of many of the antique items there. Because of the rain, we were unable to swim in the pool, but we walked around the house and saw the farm. We then heated and stirred the sheep milk with chemicals from the sheep’s stomach. There were two vats of milk so we had to wait for 15 minutes for it to fully heat. After the 15 minutes, we stirred the milk and a lot of it clumped at the bottom. Our job was to use our hands to ‘unclumpify’ the clumpy milk. Then, we poured out the water and pressed the clumps of soon to be cheese into molds. To make the cheese, we had to squeeze all of the water out of the cheese and flip it three times. It had to sit for 12 hours with a rock on it, to squeeze all of the water out.

Then, we went in to the kitchen to eat chorizo, tortilla espanola, soda and bread. Everything was great, but once the dessert came out all was forgotten. There was sweet bread, plum cake, and other typical manchego pastries. They were literally the best things I have ever had in my life. We also had lemonade and coffee slushies, cold café con leche, and sweet milk.

All in all, today was fantastic, and if the rest of our time here is half as great, we are lucky!!!

Lauren: love you mom and dad, having a great time, miss you!!! <3

Tori: I love you

Ashley: I love you and Spain is so much fun

Becca: I love you, BYE

Amy: hola mommy y daddy, I love you!!

Sarah: hola

Lindsay: I love you

Fiona: there were two really cute dogs that made me very homesick

Barbara: hola, fue a una granja y comí chorizo. Adiós.

Clare: hi

Saanya: I miss you so so so so so much but I am having the best time of my life!!!











Posted by on Monday June 6, 2011 at 02:26PM
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Fiona/Barbara The flight was very long, but we (Barbara and Fiona) spent most of the time listening to music and talking to Alvaro, a Spanish exchange student returning to Spain for the first time in 10 months. From the airport in Madrid, we took a bus, which dropped us off at each of our individual houses one by one. Barbara went first. I was nervous to meet the family with whom I would be living for the next three weeks. When I first came to my host family’s home, the tension was palpable, or at least it seemed that way to me. The atmosphere becomes easier as Alicia, my sister in Spain, and I got to know each other. That day we went shopping with her friends and Clare Specht, we utilized our Spanish and practiced talking while having fun! Meanwhile, Fiona… I went for a walk around the neighborhood with my family, Jose, Isabel, Bruno and Yedra. While Isabel prepared a delicious dinner of pasta and meat, I played Wii sports with Bruno and Yedra. Later I took a nap, and when I woke up, the cousins Carlos and Maria had arrived we went for another walk and played board games about Disney. After dinner, I was very tired and I slept through the night.
Posted by on Monday June 6, 2011 at 02:08PM
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Spanish families

Diego and I accompanied every student to meet their Spanish families. What a pleasure to meet them and see how thrilled they were to meet your daughters. Every family member was there to greet them. It was such a warm welcome! We are sure you will want to hear all the details from your daughters. Keep tuned!

Roxana López

Posted by on Sunday June 5, 2011 at 08:03AM
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Holton Students Arrive in Spain

Posted by on Sunday June 5, 2011 at 02:31AM
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