¡Hola a todos¡
We have arrived in Conil and what an amazing group of students we have this summer.
We definitely made the best of our short stay in Madrid where we managed to fit amongst other things, a visit to la Plaza Mayor, Retiro Park, lunch at El Mercado San Miguel, Puerta del Sol, Puerta de Alcalá, dinner, Palacio Real, la Catedral and el Templo de Debod. Students were tired, but we all know the best way to fight jet lag is to keep busy and busy we kept. We all slept really, really well.
This morning we left the hotel at 9:30 am for Atocha Train station, and we arrived in Conil at around 3 pm where homestay families were waiting for us. Students were a bit nervous and excited to meet them and we are looking forward to hear all about it when we meet them again at 7:30 pm.
Spanish classes start tomorrow at 10 am. Students will take a written and oral placement test that will determine their language level; and also tomorrow, we will start our community service at the Alzheimer’s Center, and we will have our first cooking workshop.
Please see below some photos of our first day in Spain…
Authenticity is Key
When looking for a Spanish Language Immersion program, something that sets one apart from all the rest is true authenticity. Summerfuel’s Andalusia Homestay program in the South of Spain provides genuine Spanish language immersion in the coastal town of Conil. Students live like Spaniards for four weeks and truly see Spain as an insider, rather than as a tourist.
The roots of this program run deep, as Program Director, Marta Ramos, is a Conil native herself. Marta first discovered Summerfuel when her family actually hosted Summerfuel students when she was in high school back in 1990! Having experience on both sides of the coin, Marta has seen it all – what it was like to live in Conil, how it felt to host a Summerfuel student, and just how positive the experience was for the Summerfuel student living with her family. Now, Marta returns every summer to direct the program and pass the amazing experience on to new students.
Watch the Webinar On Demand!
There are so many aspects of the Andalusia Homestay program that make it what it is, from the host families themselves to the academics, activities and weekend excursions. Take a look at the virtual info session that Marta hosted to see what she has to say about life as a Summerfuel student in the South of Spain.
Click here to watch the video anytime!
There is something about Summerfuel that always has people coming back for more.
From staff members that have worked with Summerfuel for decades to students that return for a second or third summer in a row, once you experience a Summerfuel summer your life will never be the same.
A perfect example of someone falling in love with Summerfuel and making it a major part of their life is Summerfuel Andalusia alum, Elizabeth Stallard. Elizabeth attended Summerfuel’s Spanish Immersion Homestay program in Conil, Spain as a student in 2010. During her time as a Summerfuel student, Elizabeth fell in love with the culture and language of Spain. Consequently, she was inspired to return to Spain several times to study and work. Elizabeth even lived in Northern Spain for two years working as an elementary school ESL teacher.
It wasn’t long before she was drawn back to Summerfuel, and in 2016 Elizabeth joined Summerfuel Barcelona’s staff as a Resident Advisor. Elizabeth held this position for two summers before joining the Senior Staff and becoming the Activities Director in Barcelona.
Undoubtedly, Elizabeth has experienced all aspects of a summer spent in Spain.
From being a student in Conil to a Senior Staff team member in Barcelona, Elizabeth has seen it all. She has gone through the excitement and nervousness of leaving home to travel to a far-away place; knows what it is like to make new friends from around the world; has lived in the dorms, gone on excursions, eaten in the dining hall – the list goes on and on.
Join Elizabeth for a Free Webinar to hear what she has to say about Summerfuel in Spain. From housing and dining to activities and excursions, Elizabeth will talk about her first-hand experiences in Spain, giving you personal insight into life as a Summerfuel student.
Webinar: January 31st, 4PM EST
Click here to register today and get the inside scoop on life as a Summerfuel student!
Although we were very sad to see the students leave us, we enjoyed an incredible last day together on Thursday. In the morning, our 4-week students took their final exams while the students who recently arrived from Barcelona took a bike tour along the coast of Conil. At 1 pm, we all reconvened in the school to celebrate a birthday! One of our students turned 16 today so we sang to her and ate delicious cake from a local bakery that we (and especially the birthday girl) adore.
After the birthday celebration, everyone went back to their homes for lunch and packing. The students also had some hours in the afternoon to purchase souvenirs, hang out some more with their families, or meet up with friends in town.
At night, we got together for a fiesta in celebration of the memory-filled month we’ve spent in Conil. The students’ homestay families were also invited. Highlights included a hilarious parody of “Despacito” performed by a group of students, superlative awards, and a video montage of the trip. We ate great food and enjoyed the company of all the people who made this month so special.
On Friday, we made our way to Madrid. We had time for a nice stroll around the Serrano neighborhood before eating a delicious dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant.
We said our final goodbyes on Saturday at the Madrid Barajas airport. It was hard seeing such a wonderful group go but we hope they know that they will always have a home and many, many friends in Conil.
¡Hola a todos!
This morning we set off for our last group excursion. Our first destination was Gibraltar. Upon arrival, we took the cable car up to the “top of the rock” where we enjoyed incredible views of the Strait of Gibraltar and the coast of Spain. On the drive to Gibraltar from Conil, we even spotted Africa in the distance! The students were pretty surprised by how close Africa is to the south of Spain.
On the top of the rock in Gibraltar, we also got to see and take pictures of monkeys. These monkeys are actually one of the main attractions in Gibraltar! Check out some of the great photos from our group.
After coming down from the rock, we walked into town to find lunch. Some students also did some shopping since Gibraltar’s main street has some British stores that aren’t available in Spain.
On our way back to Conil, we stopped in a big surf town called Tarifa. However, instead of surfing we went snorkeling! The water was pretty cold but we had a fun time anyway. After the snorkeling excursion, some students played a quick game of beach volleyball before we got back on the bus.
On another note, yesterday was our last day of surf classes. The students who recently arrived from Barcelona also got to participate and give surf a try! After surf class, we also played basketball versus some locals. Tomorrow the students will take the final exam for their Spanish classes. Wish them luck!
After recently saying goodbye to three of our students, we welcomed two students from the Barcelona program to spend the last week with us in Conil. After they arrived on Saturday afternoon, we took an excursion to Cádiz.
We began our tour of Cádiz at the Torre Tavira, an old watchtower. Since Cádiz has one of the most important ports of trade in Spain, the watchtowers were used to protect the city. At the time, Torre Tavira was the main watchtower since it is located in the center and at the highest point in the city.
After learning about Torre Tavira’s importance and enjoying the views from the terrace level, we took a brief walking tour of the old part of the city. After that, students had free time for shopping, exploring, and finding an afternoon snack!
On Sunday, we visited a nearby town called Vejer, where Cucu (our local assistant) and her grandfather showed us around. Cucu’s grandfather was the mayor of Vejer for many years so he was especially knowledgable in the history of the town. He told our students about a local tradition that is quite unique. Every four years, the town hall raffles off plots of land. Whichever families win these plots of land, have four years to do whatever they want with them. This tradition began centuries ago when Vejer was being constantly conquered by the Moors and then reconquered by the Christians. Since many people considered it dangerous to live in Vejer, the town began this tradition of raffling off lands to attract people to stay! Up to this day, the tradition continues.
Last night (Monday night) was our last night of cooking class. We made delicious homemade pizza. The chef also surprised the students with a cookbook of the recipes we have made together. Each student will be bringing one home!
Today is our last day of classes and also the last day of surf. We are soaking up every moment of our last week in Conil.
We are at the end of week three and a lot has happened. Summerfuel’s “Points” competition came to an end on Wednesday. The competition Started on day 1 and students in each team received points based on their performance in Spanish classes, workshops, excursions and the video project “docu-Conil”. To say that students got a bit competitive would be the understatement of the year. The prize was dinner and a later curfew and everyone fought for it! In the end there was a tie between the “Supermercado” and “Cool O’s” teams. Well done!
On Wednesday we visited Conil’s lonja where fish caught in Conil is auctioned to local restaurants and buyers from Italy and Greece. We watched a video about the different fishing methods used by fishermen in Conil and were there to see the boats come in with their catch after a long night at sea.
On a sadder note, students who signed up for the 3 week option left this morning. We were so sad to see them leave and will miss them very much.
Tomorrow, we are traveling to Cádiz, the capital of the province and the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Western Hemisphere. This is the place where when they dug the foundation for a new building they found a Roman circus!
We also have a treat on Sunday. We will be going to the beautiful whitewashed town of Vejer where we will be toured by Cucu’s grandfather who was the Mayor of Vejer for many years. Cucu (Summerfuel’s local assistant) will dress in the traditional costume of the cobijada woman of Vejer. The cobijada women dressed in black from head to toe and only showed one eye. We asked students to invite their Spanish friends who will also come with us. We will return to Conil after dinner.
We had an amazing time in Córdoba and Sevilla. We visited la Mezquita, Jewish Quarter and Roman bridge in Córdoba and la Plaza de España, los Reales Alcázares, and the Jewish quarter in Seville. La Plaza de España was built for the bero-American Exposition World’s Fair but what really caught the students’ attention was that it was used as a filming location for Star Wars and Lawrence of Arabia! Games of Thrones was also filmed in Seville, in los Reales Alcázares.
We had a few good meals where we had the opportunity to taste (yet) more Spanish food and we finished our trip kayaking in the Guadalquivir River.
Here are some photos y hasta pronto.