Spanish Exchange Return Visit

March 2019

Our fifteen Spanish friends, and their teachers Marisa and Monica, arrived on Tuesday 5th March. The visiting students were delighted to see their friends again and to go home with their ‘Irish families’ for their first Irish dinner after a long day of travelling.

On Wednesday the Spanish students and their partners spent a full day in school. They started with a brief tour of the school followed by an Irish cookery class with Ms McDonnell and Ms Maher. They made pancake and a variety of other sweet treats all of which we got to enjoy at break time. After break they had an Irish lesson with Ms Tuohy, an Irish history class with Mr Madden and a hurling lesson with Mr Marnell. After lunch the students studied Irish Music with Ms Browne, afterwards Ms Power facilitated a Céilí. The students learned how to dance the Walls of Limerick and also participated in a Spanish/Irish dance off.

On Thursday the entire group went to Dublin. In the morning we visited the Epic Museum, a fully interactive museum where students swiped through video galleries, danced through motion sensor quizzes, listened to remastered audio from 100 years ago and watched videos that bring Irish history to life. Then they visited the impressive library in Trinity College where they also got to see the Book of Kells.

Despite the inclement weather the students braved the elements on Friday to eat Fish and Chips on the beach in Tramore. After an enjoyable laser battle in Run Amuck we were amazed to discover the sun had emerged while we were indoors and we took advantage of the opportunity to take a walk on the strand. Over the course of the week our visitors really did experience every season.

The weekend was spent immersed in family life. Some of our visitors, many of whom had never seen a cow in real life, enjoyed getting stuck into farming. Others visited a variety of tourist attractions including Mahon Falls and St. John’s Castle in Limerick.

On Monday the group met at St Canice’s Cathedral, our visitors particularly loved climbing the round tower. With our feet firmly back on terra firma we set off on a walking tour of Kilkenny incorporating St. Francis’ Abbey, Rothe House, The Courthouse, Kytler’s Inn, the Butter Slip, the Tholsel and finishing with a guided tour of Kilkenny Castle. On completing our tour the students enjoyed lunch and shopping in Kilkenny city centre.

Tuesday, the last day of the visit, arrived quickly. The bus departed from the school at 3am where the friends said their goodbyes but not for long as many are hoping to visit their friends again over the summer.

Ms Power and Ms Browne would like to thank the Irish students, the families, Marisa, Monica, the management and all the staff both in Coláiste Mhuire and in Colegio San Juan Bautista in Madrid for all their time, efforts and supports during the organisation and the running of the exchange programme. Without all of the help the two trips would never have been possible. ¡Gracias!

Exchange Trip to Madrid – October 2019

We had an early start leaving Coláiste Mhuire Johnstown at 2am on Tuesday 22nd October. Our flight from Dublin was at 7am and we arrived in Madrid at about 11am. We went straight to the school where we met our Spanish partners. We were very tired but our energy picked up with the excitement of meeting our new friends. We all enjoyed a pizza party before going home and meeting our new Spanish families. That evening many of us met up in town for some shopping and Muire got to go to an Athletico Madrid football match. It was a very long day so everyone was very happy to go to sleep.

We had another early start on Wednesday as School in Madrid starts at 8am. We all met at the school gate to catch up on the gossip from the night before and to compare what we had eaten. The school day began with an assembly and then we split up into groups to attend classes. We participated in a number of different classes including art, music, science and PE. School finished at 2:30pm and we all went home for lunch. Later that evening we toured the Bernabeu stadium for several hours. It is the most visited museum in Spain and includes an impressive display of trophies and football memorabilia. We sat in the manager’s seats pitch side, had a look in the dressing rooms and even sat on the team bus. After the tour we went to McDonalds which made everyone very happy as we were having a hard time adjusting to Spanish food.

We travelled by bus to Segovia, a beautiful small town about an hour from Madrid. One of the Spanish teachers brought us on a tour around the town and we saw the aqueduct, the cathedral and the fairy-tale castle Alcazar. We climbed 152 steps to the top of the tower and enjoyed the spectacular views. In the afternoon we had some free time for our favourite activity – shopping.

On Friday we went to Parque Europa, a park which has mini replicas of famous European monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, the Brandenburg gate, the Trevi fountain and London Bridge. We had a number of challenges to complete with our exchange partners, taking themed selfies with the different monuments. In the afternoon we had several hours to shop in the Gran Via area of Madrid. We went to lots of different shops but our favourite was the seven story tall Penney’s.

Saturday was amusement park day! We travelled to Parque de Atraciones by metro and spent the entire day riding the impressive selection of rollercoasters. As it was close to Halloween there were lots of spooky characters walking around scaring people. There was also a haunted house and a Walking Dead themed attraction.

Sunday was family day. Some of the Spanish and Irish students met up in the afternoon to go bowling, others went on day trips to Toledo or to Retiro Park.

Our last full day is Spain was spent in Madrid city centre. We went on a walking tour around the Puerta del Sol, Opera and Pasillo del Prado areas. We also had breakfast of Churros con Chocolate in the famous San Ginés restaurant. The tour finished with a visit to the Reina Sofia museum where we saw lots of famous works of art including Guernica by Picasso.

We said our goodbyes early Tuesday morning and headed for the airport. There were hugs and tears as we left our partners but we will see them again in March when they come to Ireland.