Final Thoughts

What a privilege and honor it is to be with this group of students from Principia. The purity of their thought has been a great blessing to Spain on many levels. The qualities that the students so naturally express such as joy, willingness, flexibility, ease, freedom, and dominion have come out in their communication, their politeness, in the way they move from one activity to the next, and their overall support of the whole group individually and collectively. Their spontaneity has been beautifully expressed in their sharing of musical talents with some of our friends here in Spain. As individual as each one is, they have moved gracefully and humbly as a unit. That is an incredibly important component when traveling together in another country.

Sometimes on a short trip like this where you are faced with some very unique cultural differences in food, tradition, communication and everyday expectations, there is no learning curve. You just have to “be” what and who you are as God’s child and include everyone you meet in that same understanding knowing that this will adjust and transform wherever it is humanly needed. These students are proving that the language of Love opens doors. They have been an inspiration to me.

The group decided to have a metaphysical theme for the trip which is “Love is reflected in love” and includes the idea of “As in heaven, so on earth.” The metaphysicals and sharing time we have everyday have been inspired and fresh. Healings and the overcoming of limitations have been shared. I have felt so blessed by the understanding of God and man that each one has brought to this trip.

Spain is filled with beauty, art, music, and history that continues to evolve. Like so many nations in the world, it is at another point of choosing the correct road of progress. We all have been supporting the spiritual concept of one universal government under the law of Love during this time of the king of Spain’s abdication. The resilient and spiritually strong innocent thought of this group and the clear desire to see the newness of the Christ as the constant journey and destination, is evident every day.

Liz Mata

Day 27: June 7th

What a full day!  We made our way back to Madrid leaving Alicante around 9:30 AM.  The bus ride was very busy since we had a couple final abroad things to take care of.  We each had to complete a pretty lengthy test that covered a lot of the Spanish language to see how much we learned over the past four weeks.

In addition to the written test, we had an oral exam with Duncan.  We talked with him in Spanish from anywhere between 5-15 minutes.  It gave him the opportunity to talk with us about the trip, and give him the chance to hear how much our spanish has improved.

We arrived in Madrid around 3:30 PM.  Our afternoon and evening was full of culture review and final thoughts.  We also had a wonderful gratitude session, which was really touching.  Many people gave gratitude for Duncan and Liz for their hard work and support.  We cannot thank them enough.  Many also gave gratitude for a harmonious and safe trip.  The people in our group all got along so well, and I know that I feel closer to everyone.

We were so blessed with this amazing opportunity, and I know that we will never forget these memories.  Thank you so much for all the support and prayer from home as well.  We’ll see you soon!

Molly Moser

Day 25: June 5th

Hey everybody!

Today was a busy day! Everybody had classes in the morning today. After the first set of classes, a group of students visited a business center to attend a meeting focused on business and economics in Alicante. The meeting was held in the first European Union-funded business center. The building included a town hall style meeting place, offices, warehouses and daycare centers. These areas are all subsidized to help “incubate” growing businesses. It was an incredibly interesting way to spend an afternoon – especially from a business administration major’s point of view.

After a siesta, the group met up to go rehearse for a musical performance. The night was spent having dinner and playing music with a NGO focused on providing free music lessons to interested participants. Everybody participated in singing hymns for the crowd!

Hope all is well back home!

Charlie Petch

Day 24: June 4th

This morning we had Spanish classes!  Our class got to play Taboo in Spanish, and we discussed important events in Spanish and American history.  

After classes the whole group went to La Playa San Juan, a beach a little bit further away so there weren’t many other people!  The water was gorgeous and perfect for swimming.  It was cold at first but it was so hot out it ended up being perfect.  But it was still too cold for Christian.  Some people left to go shopping or find food and some of us stayed till dinner time!  

We had delicious dinners in our home stays.  Meredith and I went over to Shontee and Lena’s apartment across the hall to have dinner with them and their roommates from France!  It was so fun to be able to communicate in Spanish when the common language isn’t English. After dinner a group of us and our new French friends went to the best gelato shop in Alicante and ate ice cream by the beach.  We went to bed soon after to get ready for our packed day tomorrow!

Kyla Pelletier

Day 23: June 3rd

Today we had classes as usual starting at 9:00 AM at Estudio Sampere.  At 10:30, we had a 30 minute break and people went out for coffee and pastries.  There are several very good and very cheap cafes near the school that all have excellent coffee and some of the best chocolate croissants we’ve had so far in Spain.  We returned to classes and finished our morning with a quick metaphysical and prayer for Spain as it undergoes political unrest following the abdication of King Juan Carlos I.  We talked about what is next for the country and whether or not the monarchy will continue for another generation or be abolished before Felipe VI can take the throne.  In Madrid we met with Andres Cala, correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and we talked about the future of Spain and how it is affected by the history of the country.  Today we read his article about the abdication and what it means for Spain. For more information here is the article:

After class, we went down to the beach for a couple of hours.  The beach was crowded, but we found a nice spot and enjoyed the sun and the Mediterranean water.  The water was perfect for swimming, gentle waves and not too cold.  A nice contrast to the hot weather that we’ve been enjoying.

We met at 4:00 PM to rehearse our songs for the ‘concert’ that we are participating in on Thursday.  We decided to sing hymn 304 and the doxology and a short traditional Spanish song as a whole group. There are a few other smaller performances from our group.  There will be a selection of Disney songs as well as some violin and guitar pieces from Jesse and Charlie.

The weather tonight is perfect for a walk along the beach.  The castle and the city below it are lit up every night and walking along the beach is the best way to take everything in.

Hannah Schlomann

Day 22: June 2nd

It was our first day of school in Alicante!  After a week of vacation and traveling in the south of Spain and a lot of speaking English, I thought our Spanish skills would be a bit rusty but we jumped right in to class without any problemas.  It’s amazing how much our Spanish has improved since we arrived in Madrid.

We discovered, not long into our break between classes that there is a bakery where you can buy five mini chocolate croissants for two euros! It is going to be a good week….

After school, we took a break to go eat lunch with our host families. Shontee and I have had a really great experience with our new host family.  The culture in Alicante is a lot different than that it in Madrid. Most of us have found that our host mothers are much more laid back here.  When Shontee and I arrived, our host mother said my house, is your house! She is a doll 🙂

After lunch, the group had a short tour through Alicante.  We saw the commercial and historical district and of course, stopped at one of the most well known and highly rated heladerias (Ice Cream Shops) in Spain.  I got a scoop of dark chocolate and salted caramel….. Delicious! Afterwards, we walked off our dessert at the beach and bought some Spanish chocolate and other sweets for family and friends back home. To finish of the day, Shontee and I arrived at home to be greeted by a humongous pan of paella!

What a great day… I can’t believe it is our last week but I am so grateful to be spending it in Alicante, what a beautiful city.

Lena Carlson

Day 21: June 1st

Today, we attended a lovely church service at 10:00 in the morning. The Alicante church holds it’s Wednesday testimony meeting right after the Sunday church service on the first Sunday of the month because it can be difficult for some of the church members to travel to town Wednesday nights.  So we had a very uplifting Sunday service of 2 hours – the second hour being the testimony meeting.  Many church members shared testimonies as well as some Principia students.  The students shared their testimonies in English and then repeated them in Spanish.

After church, we took a nice tram ride to a beach called the San Juan beach.  A lot of the church members joined us for lunch. We had a great time talking to the members while eating a very amazing meal. We were served many delicious appetizers and, just when we were full, we were served a tasty paella dish.

Once we finished lunch, we had some down time before José Mata’s lecture, and the abroad group walked up and down the beach as well as around the nearby shops.  The weather was on the cooler side and yet, Jesse, Shontee, and Meredith were brave enough to put on their bathing suits and jump into the Mediterranean Sea!  I think it made all of us excited to do so when the weather warms up.

We then left the beach and took the tram back to the center of Alicante to attend José Mata’s talk, “Reino de Los Cielos,” focusing on altrusimo, bondad, misericordia, justica, salud, santidad, and amor. The talk was given in Spanish so it not only inspired us, but challenged our Spanish listening skills as well.

At the end of the talk, some of the abroad mingled with the people that showed up to listen to the talk – not everyone that had attended was a Christian Scientist.  Then we all returned to our second night at the new homestays in Alicante for dinner.

Tess Rountree

Day 20: May 31st

This morning we all packed our suitcases one final time and enjoyed our last breakfast in Almería.  My roommate and I were sad to say goodbye to our tempurpedic pillows, but more excited to meet our new home stay families in Alicante.  A lot of us spent the beginning of the bus ride quizzing each other on various aspects of the culture in preparation for our exam on Monday.  Others slept or listened to music.  We drove through the mountains and by the Mediterranean Sea, the perfect backdrop for a road trip.  We made great time and arrived in Alicante twenty minutes early.  It was raining so we all huddled together in our blatantly American rain jackets with our suitcases.  Our brightly colored jackets stuck out against the typical European blacks and browns.

The anticipation of meeting your homestay family is a feeling that is hard to describe.  You are both excited and nervous, hoping that you will make a good impression.  My roommate and I anxiously waited for our names to be called.  We really had nothing to worry about. Our new Madre greeted us with the traditional kiss on the cheek and immediately put us at ease.  Alicante is a lot smaller than Madrid so we were able to walk back to our apartment.  Once we got there we were given a tour of the apartment and had lunch with our family.  My roommate and I were lucky and were served paella for lunch—a traditional Spanish dish with rice and seafood.  We spoke a lot of English this past week so it was great to get back into speaking Spanish.

After a much-needed nap a group of us met up to explore the city.  We stopped at a little café with cupcakes and coffee for a quick break and then made our way to the beach.  Alicante is right on the Mediterranean Sea and surrounded by mountains.  Although it was cloudy, the beach was absolutely beautiful.  We even saw two couples taking their wedding pictures!  All in all it was a successful day of travel and exploration.  We are looking forward to spending our last week in beautiful Alicante!

Meredith Hamilton


Day 19: May 30th

We woke up this morning in the fanciest hotel to date.  After breakfast, we had a short walk to one of the Refugios de la Guerra Civil, built by Guillermo Langle, where approximately 35,000 citizens of Almería took shelter during the bombings of the Spanish Civil War.  Most of the 100 entrances around the city, disguised as newsstands and musical kiosks, still exist today.  The strangest and most worrying part had to be the area assigned for pregnant women to give birth underground during a bombing.  How much more awful could it get?

In the south of Spain, the Spanish accent is much different than the Castillian Spanish spoken in Madrid.  People tend to drop any ‘s’ on the end of a word and omit consonants.  If you don’t pay close attention, whatever they’re saying will slip right past you.  Luckily, we had Duncan translating for us on both of our tours.  After leaving the Refugio, we ducked back into the hotel to change into swimsuits for what we were most excited about: the beach!  We haggled with our bus driver as to when we should be picked up, agreeing to grab our own lunch in order to have another hour on the sand.  The sun was hot and bright, and a couple of us (including myself) were too excited about the beach to put on sunscreen, which has led to a prayer-filled evening.  Between one blink and the next, the whole beach was overcome by fog, which made for some nifty instagram photo ops.  Dani got a pretty awesome pic of Shontee strolling on the beach.

Some people enjoyed ham-hamburgers, while other had fries or paella with fresh seafood.  After Kyla and I got lunch at a café, we stopped in a grocery store and got an awesome deal on chocolate donuts.  8 donuts for 4 euros!  Jesse soon followed suit.  Right after, we walked to a small plaza with a giant monument for the martyrs of the democratic Republic and got drinks—soda, hot chocolate, or coffee.  There was one man working, as we came during siesta time, and even though there were twenty of us, he didn’t write anything down and eventually got all of our drinks right.  It was impressive.

Soon after, we met our tour guide for La Alcazaba—a giant fortress built to defend Almería from its many invaders.  Almería is known for being the most popular point of invasion in Spain, especially by sea, because of its wealth and large port.  The fort makes it ridiculously difficult to break in, with obstacle after obstacle blocking entrance.  At one of the towers, not only could guards fire arrows into the ranks of their enemies, but they could also pour boiling oil on them or throw dead animals into the fray.  That took a moment to wrap our heads around.

The Moorish architecture of la Alcazaba was really beautiful—many of wide stairs had running water splitting them in two and ending in a fountain.  The flowers smelled awesome and the view of the city, the ruins, and the water were gorgeous.  We were periodically given free time to explore the towers and the ruins, and to take more artsy photos.  We made a pit stop at the hotel to debrief a little bit on cultural things we had learned in our homestays.   Kyla and Meredith shared their experience with their mom, and having to explain that the food was still wonderful, even if they couldn’t eat third and fourth portions of it.  The size of laundry also came as a surprise to many of our homestay moms.

We met for dinner at a super fancy restaurant.  Allex and I sat across from Liz and José Mata, talking about the food, places we visited, and our families.  We had a great time eating great food, topping it all off with a chocolate-covered brownie and two scoops of ice cream (Allex and I shared and split dessert.)  The rest of the evening has been studying for the imminent culture exam, chatting with family, updating Facebook, and plain old chillin.  As we head into our last week, we’re all looking forward to meeting our new homestay moms and getting in as much time in the sun as possible. See you on the beach!

Bre Benbenek

From past to present: language, culture, religions