Greenheart Travel believes that travel changes us for the better. It challenges us and gives us more insight and mutual understanding. That’s why, every year, Greenheart Travel offers First Time Traveler scholarships so that more people have the opportunity to travel. We recently heard from Caleb who won a scholarship to Greenheart Travel’s Teen Summer Language Camp in Spain. Here’s a little bit about his trip!
My trip in Salamanca, Spain took me 5,662 miles from home, to a new continent, with new culture and new people. It was a trip I will remember forever, and it is a trip that truly succeeded in encouraging positive growth in me and my peers!
When I first got to Spain I was utterly entranced by the sheer idea that I was so far and so free in an extremely beautiful new land. The serotonin from the increased independence lasted throughout the entire trip, and even shows its lasting effects on my independence here at home.
My experience with adapting to the culture in Salamanca was not as rocky as I had anticipated. I found myself doing remarkably better at understanding Spanish rather than speaking it, and was even able to form beautiful bonds with many of the locals. I did this through a universal social tactic that relies more on my empathetic and sympathetic capabilities. Being able to communicate with these new people even through a language barrier was truly what brought me so much closer to the culture in Salamanca, Spain.
Breaking the discomfort and immersing myself in the experience is what ultimately freed me, it enabled me to retain much of the information and culture, so not only do I have photos but I have strong, established memories that will continue to make me smile for a lifetime.
One of my favorite aspects of the trip was the large amounts of free-time students were granted, where you were 100% independent and alone (unless you were with friends or roommates). This was extremely helpful in breaking the ice and helping students through culture shock. I personally loved walking down the beautiful alleyways and admiring the old architecture. Other than sight-seeing, the hours of independence we got allowed us to do much more, such as going to lunch as a group or watching the many street performances. These activities helped to round out the entire experience, and for me they are what made it all the more valuable.
I believe everyone should do a program like this once in their life. The itinerary and organization of the program was what helped students to acclimate so fast, and immediately begin reaping the benefits of being in another country, rather than focusing on possible negative aspects like being home-sick. There was so much to do and so much to see, and the fact that we were actually able to do and see those things created such an exciting environment that it was hard to have time to be sad about anything (unless you were hearing one of the many historical tragedies that occurred in Salamanca).
Overall this trip was a much deeper experience then I had first thought. Of course whenever you drastically change your surroundings other things are bound to change as well, but nothing could have prepared me for the profoundness that came out of just communicating with these people. Knowing that I have the ability to travel the world, alone, meet new people, alone, and do all of these things successfully is one of the most valuable things I have learned this year. For all this program has given me I am so grateful, and thank you Salamanca for having me!
Thank you Caleb for sharing your experience! If you’d like to learn more about Greenheart Travel’s scholarships, please visit our First Time Traveler section!