“¡Hola! ¿Qué tal?”


“¡Hola! ¿Qué tal?” – the most asked question of the week from 8th – 15th October, 2019 when the students from 3 different countries – Croatia, Lithuania and Finland gathered in order to take part in an Erasmus+ project “Amazing Race” which was hosted by El Centro Ingles (The English Centre), a private school in the municipality of El Puerto de Santa Maria in Cádiz, the south east province of Andalusia. The main focus of the transnational learning activity in Spain was investigating matters regarding social health, so the question “Qué tal?” (“How are you?” in English) really mattered.

After a long summer and the first month of school – THE day arrived. On a Croatian national holiday, the Independence Day, 8th October 2019, nine students and two teachers of Prva gimnazija Varaždin left their homes and families to live a Spanish life for a week. And the lucky ones were Nika Juraga, Korina Klampfl, Nera Jelušić, Tea Ladić, Maja Migles, Karlo Narančić, Lovro Cikač, Matej Koš, David Šantek; accompanied by teachers Ivica Cikač and Tatjana Ostović Šlehta.
The first day consisted of, well, mostly traveling. Firstly, we drove from Varaždin to Zagreb and then two flights later (Zagreb – Barcelona and Barcelona – Seville) we were in Spain. Then, after a two-hour drive, we finally reached our destination – El Centro Ingles in El Puerto de Santa Maria where we met our host families. Even before the trip, we knew Spain would be absolutely magnificent and breathtaking. And we, for sure, were not wrong.

An Andalusian beach
Photograph: Erasmus+ Team

The second day was mainly focused on introducing students to everything that would happen through the week of the mobility as well as getting to know each other with the help of ‘ice breaker’ activities. We were also divided in 3 groups that consisted of students from all the participating countries and Spanish students were our tour guides around the school. After that, it was time for workshops about social health: a philosophy lesson on Health Society, a debate on the motion “Is Social Media Bad for Us”, a lecture on a healthy internet use, a questionnaire about the use of social media, along with planning PE lessons for 4-8 year old pupils.
The following day it was time to focus on sports and music. Being divided on 6 teams, we had an amazing morning playing basketball, football, badminton, padel, volleyball and swimming in the pool. Then after lunch in the school canteen, it was time for some music activities so we warmed up our voices and sang our Amazing Race Project song, along with a bit of dancing while trying to figure out Sevillana, a type of folk music and dance of Seville and its region. Afterwards, we had a wonderful cultural evening with host families trying traditional food from Spain, Lithuania, Finland and Croatia as well as learning some traditional dances from all the participating countries.

Sevillana – a traditional dance
Photograph: Erasmus+ Team

Friday morning was reserved for sightseeing in El Puerto de Santa Maria and visiting Town Hall where we were welcomed by the councilor of education and the mayor. In the afternoon it was time for our PE lessons with 4-8 year olds.
Saturday was all about the city of Seville where we spent most of the day just sightseeing all the architectural beauties such as palace, cathedral and Plaza España and enjoying our free time in that astonishing city.

Photograph: Erasmus+ Team

Next day was the day of our Amazing Race. Once again, students worked in international teams using strategies, solving different tasks and working socially while doing multi-task physical activity for 3 hours. The Race included kayaking, paddle surfing, archery, sack races, cycling etc. And once the Race was done, we had whole evening to hang out with our host families.
On Monday, it was time for speeches about everything that had happened throughout the week and for students to get their certificates. The afternoon was reserved for visiting and sightseeing Cádiz (La Caleta, cathedral, Parque Genovés, Teatro Falla, Mercado) and having some time to explore it on our own.
And day by day, our time in Spain has come to an end. Or not? Because of the protests of Catalan separatists in Barcelona, our flight from Seville to Barcelona was canceled and we got stuck in Spain! To be honest, we weren’t really complaining because it was actually what we all had wished for but perhaps not the way it happened. So instead of coming home on Tuesday after a flight from Seville to Barcelona and the other one from Barcelona to Zagreb, we came home on Saturday flying from Seville to Rome and then from Rome to Vienna from where we also took a bus home.
Our stay in Spain was absolutely spectacular, fulfilling and thought-provoking experience because of all the benefits we got participating in this project. For example: opening minds and expanding horizons, more self- confidence in social situations as a result of working in different international teams throughout the week, more awareness of cyber bullying and other problems surrounding social media, better understanding of teaching from delivering a lesson to younger pupils, team work skills, communication skills in English, self-esteem through overcoming challenges.
It is an understatement to say it was one extremely adventurous adventure. We got some friends for life and also some pretty amazing memories. And now, we shouldn’t be sad because it’s over but smile because it happened. 

Maja Migles

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