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Montrosians Fueron a Espana!

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Montrosians Fueron a Espana!

Ellie Schrippa in Spain

Ellie Schrippa in Spain

Ellie Schrippa in Spain

Ellie Schrippa in Spain

Katrin O'Grady '15

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This past summer, two Montrose juniors, Mary Theresa Whalen and Elle Schirripa, traveled across the Atlantic Ocean for a spectacular summer trip. No, these Montrosians were not seeking a glimpse of the royal baby. They were participating in the Montrose Spanish Exchange Program.

The two girls prepared for this trip since the spring. They exchanged emails with their Spanish pen pals whom they met over the summer.  In July, each Montrosian stayed with her pen pal’s family for 2-3 weeks, followed by a U.S. visit with the American girl’s family for a similar amount of time.

“The culture was very different!” said Whalen, who stayed primarily in Madrid with Maria Gonzalez Ramos and her family. Whalen explained, “[her] dad would come home from work around two, [and] we had lunch at two thirty. Then he took a nap and went golfing. The culture was much more laid back.” She added that the midday meal or lunch (followed by a siesta) was extremely important. Parents came home from work, and everyone paused their day to relax with their family, something that both Whalen and Schirripa showed them how time-conscious and rushed Americans are by contrast.

Whalen also traveled with the family to San Sebastian in the north of Spain and San Sevilla in the south. A highlight of her trip was going to the beach in San Sebastian and learning to surf.

Schirippa stayed with Blanca and her family in La Coruna on the west coast of Spain. She also joined the family for their annual vacation, driving across the country to their summer house in Torreciudad.

Like Whalen, Schirripa found the Spanish culture extremely dissimilar from what she was used to. She said, “I experienced some “culture shock” when I first arrived because many aspects of daily life were so different. It was typical to see small children playing in the streets at 11 P.M. It took me off guard at first, and I often found myself, unaccustomed to the late day, ready to go to bed before the little children!’” Schrippa explained that most days, they woke up at ten-thirty, ate lunch around two, and then ate dinner as late as ten or eleven.

Elle was especially excited to visit a Shrine St. Josemaria, built in honor of Our Lady in Torreciudad. Although, her Spanish pen pal Blanca was not able to come back to America, Schirripa was “very thankful [she] had the opportunity.” She added, “not only did my Spanish improve, but the experience made me more cultured and independent. The trip was a great experience and I am still seeing the benefits from it weeks after I’ve been home.”

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