Al Jazeera Academy, Qatar: Student´s testimony

It was a chilly night in Madrid as a group of exhausted, yet ecstatic students made their way out of Barajas international airport. A 7 hour flight might have drained their energies, but not their spirits, as their excitement was clearly visible.

The 11th of December to the 21st December saw the departure of 11 AJA students accompanied by Miss Carmen and Ms Lynn on an unforgettable trip to Spain. The trip served as an exemplar on how education and fun can collaborate on such a level. The purpose of the trip was to attend lessons at Tandem Madrid, an international school of language based in the city. Moreover students also took part in numerous activities, ranging from hiking, to cooking and theatre. These activities were designed specifically to enhance spoken Spanish and also to serve as CAS for the IB students.

The trip was unique as it gave students the opportunity to live like Spaniards. Literally. Students were housed with Spanish host families which therefore put their Spanish skills to the ideal test. We were required to communicate entirely in Spanish, be it in the “metro” (subway), at school or simply dining at a restaurant. And the progress made by some us was quite remarkable. Students who had never studied Spanish were, at the end of the trip, able to communicate on a basic level.

What posed as a challenge for a lot of us was the fact that the level of responsibility given to us had certainly increased. However, this responsibility, rather than being a burden, became an adventure. We were required wake up, and get prepared accordingly, in order to reach the school everyday at 9:00. The school was located conveniently in the heart of Madrid, near Sol. The various methods of transportation in the city meant that it wasn’t difficult getting around. However the best way to travel was definitely through the Metro.

The afternoons were filled by activities organized by Ms Carmen. The first of many was a memorable hiking trip to Cercedilla. What came as a surprise to all of us was the fact that by the time we reached the mountain trail, it had begun to snow. The mountains and trees that were once lush green were now coated white with snowfall. All of us were treated to nature at its best, and more so for the ones who were seeing snow for the first time.

The second part of the trip constituted of a two night stay in Cordoba which is recognized by some, as the cultural hub of Europe. Cordoba served as an absolute transition from Madrid. It’s tranquility, labyrinth of winding, narrow streets, shady flower-filled courtyards and picturesque squares such as La Plaza del Potro turned out to be a stark contrast of Madrid.

The trip ended too early, and it was on the 22nd when students made their way back to Doha. A cultural, environmental and memorable experience in summary, the trip illustrated on how beneficial such trips can be on accounts of both academic and extra- curricular activities. On behalf of all that took part in the trip, I would like to thank Ms Lyn, and Ms Carmen for planning and organizing the entire trip for the second year in a row.

By Talha Raja Ahmed 12B

Also: see Jessica’s testimony in Power Point format (3.3MB)

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