Traveling to Mexico and living immersed in the culture is an incredible privilege that I am very lucky to be a part of. The opportunity to learn Spanish while living here is such a blessing and advantage I did not think I would have. The idea of learning another language did not sink in with me until this week. Traveling to Ensenada left me feeling of anxious, I was really nervous about staying with a host family because of the language barrier. I wondered if they would be able to understand me and how I would be able to communicate with them if we did not speak the same language. After I spent a week with Diana and Roberto, I felt at ease. Diana prepared every meal for us and made it a warm, welcoming stay, and overall an awesome experience. Mexican food is very different from what we are used to eating in Canada.
At every meal we are offered homemade tortillas or a kind of burrito, and of course refried beans. It very delicious although some of the spices are very strong and not what we are all used to. Diana and Roberto did their very best to make us feel at home and comfortable. Not only did we learn Spanish in our schooling but we also learned it in the home speaking to each other. I have to admit that working to learn a new language in such a short amount of time is mentally exhausting, so our days usually ended pretty early, to catch up on much needed sleep.
The first week in Spanish school was somewhat difficult. The first couple days were easier with learning verbs and adjectives, but as we got more into the language, I found it to be a challenge. We attended Spanish lessons Monday to Friday, 9am to 2pm. Since we had some down time after school, we were able to explore the city of Ensenada. My Academy family and I trekked to find a statue of a giant Buddha and we hiked up one of the mountains to find a gorgeous view of the whole city. Three sides of the city are surrounded by mountains. The Pacific Ocean is on the fourth side. We also went horseback riding down the beach. I was so nervous but was happy I faced my fears and went with the group.
Getting to know the area of Ensenada was different than the area of Zapata where we live during the program. There, everything is spread out and poverty is more prominent, and it is much smaller in population, with only 4682 people. Ensenada is a city with a population of 466,814 and consists of old and new developments. I am told that it is very much like California, USA. I am learning a lot about Mexico and the culture, and I am hopeful I will be able to retain and speak Spanish with my Academy family, the community, and even with my parents on face time!
– Grace, Live DIfferent Academy Student, Fall 2015