By: Elisa Meggs, Short Term Programs Coordinator

The School to School Exchange between Madison High School in Madison, IN, and Madre de Dios in Madrid, Spain, wasn’t the first time Taylor thought about the world around her. She went on a family vacation to Costa Rica, where her grandmother lived. Every year her school hosts a group of Irish students for a month and according to Taylor, “I had been asking my parents to have a foreign exchange student, but they weren’t ready for a full year student yet.”

When Taylor decided to sign up for the exchange, she did so with her best friends, Emma and Aleah, knowing that they would have each other to lean on in Spain. Taylor admits she has always been quite shy. After hosting her Spanish host sister, Marta, for three weeks, however, Taylor says,

“I’ve gained a lot of friends. I think I’ve made best friends honestly. Before, I was afraid. After meeting them, it’s kind of like no big deal, even with the language barrier. The Spanish are very—not crazy, but not shy. Being around them for three weeks has made me not as shy anymore either.”

Madison Teacher Coordinator, Carolyn, attributes this to Taylor’s attitude. “She embraced it from the moment we first started planning and her enthusiasm caught on with the rest of the group.”

While in Indiana, the Americans and Spanish did normal activities: soccer practice after school, an Indiana University football game, dinner with the family, and just hanging out. Since Marta and the rest of the group from Madre de Dios returned to Madrid, Taylor says they keep in touch with each other by messaging every day. “We have a huge WhatsApp group with everybody in the exchange.” Marta already has plans for Taylor for when she visits Spain: “We’re going to go horseback riding and to some soccer games.”

Learn more about our School to School Exchange program.