Wednesday 1 Feb

Today was spent in class with partners at both schools. Pupils experienced lessons such as maths, IT, English and Valencian, and found them to be much more relaxed than at St Mary’s. There’s no uniform and the students call the teachers by their first names. In the English lessons at Ribalta pupils were put into small groups and discussed a wide variety of topics from football via learning languages to diabetes. This evening, after having some time to pack, everyone was meeting up in town for a last dinner together. Home tomorrow!

Mittwoch 1 Februar

Today both the English and the German students visited the historic city of Heidelberg.  We set off at 8am and drove through beautiful German countryside (bathed in sunshine!).  The students are obviously really getting on well together, with lots of laughter and shared jokes on the bus.  All the students chose to sit with their exchange partners, just leaving a big gap between themselves and the accompanying teachers!

Heidelberg is one of the most visited cities in Germany, receiving millions of visitors every year.  We first caught the funicular railway up to the Schloss.  We had fantastic views of the city and the river below.  Herr Karb told us some amazing stories about the Schloss.  Quite a few of the students were tempted to try biting through the ring in the entrance gate, as apparently the person who can do that will own the castle!  Then we went back into the town and wandered around the little narrow streets, visiting the many little boutiques and cafes.  Before lunch we visited the student prison in Heidelberg, where the walls were covered in pictures and graffiti left by the various student inmates in the past.

We then headed off back to school and all the students made their way home, looking quite relaxed on foot or on the tram.  We’ve had a couple say they are staying another two weeks!

Tuesday 31 Jan 

Today we all met at Ribalta school (above) to see the museum. The building recently celebrated its centenary but the school is actually older, and was a major centre of learning in the 19th century, hence the museum. There are stuffed animals and minerals from all over the world, including some Blue John from Derbyshire. Then we all walked to the City Hall to meet the Mayor in the very grand Council Chamber. She is the first lady mayor in the 800 year history of the city, and told us about how she’s going to put Castellon on the world map. After this we walked up the watchtower and heard all about its 500 year history, had a look at the fish market with its live lobsters, and finally went into the city’s traffic control room to see them changing the traffic lights. 

Monday 30 Jan

Today we met up early and went to Valencia. Everyone had had a good weekend and settled in nicely. Some had been taken to the counryside or the beach and one had even Madrid. Today we visited the Bioparc and Valencia city centre. In the Bioparc we saw animals from all over Africa including lemurs, crocodiles, giraffes, lions, and a baby gorilla with its mum. They were in a near-natural habitat and we could get up really close. We heard about their characteristics and whether they were endangered. For instance, did you know that giraffes have no vocal cords and that huge elephant birds used to roam Madagascar? We went up the cathedral tower and looked over the city, then played in the park. 

Montag 30 Januar

The pupils spent this morning in lessons.  All seem to be getting on really well with their partners and we have had only positive comments about the food, the school and the families.  We all met up and heard about the various weekend activities, including visits to Frankfurt, ice-skating, swimming and even dance lessons!  The pupils accompanied their partners to various lessons and were struck by all the differences between the German school and St Mary’s – no uniform for a start!

At 14:00 the school day had finished for most of the students and they went off with their partners.  We will meet up tomorrow bright and early at school.

Arrival in Castellon

The exchange party of 2 teachers and 22 students arrived in Castellon about 5.30 pm on Friday after a mostly uneventful journey, although there were delays on the motorway due to an accident near Alicante airport. There was great excitement and some nervousness as the large group of Spanish families surrounded the bus, and within 15 minutes everyone had met their partners and gone off with them. We heard some arranging to meet up, others were going off to the country for the weekend with their partners’families, and one lucky boy was going to see Villa Real play. Tomorrow we will find out all their news when we meet bright and early for a day in Valencia.

Day 2 in Germany

We all arrived safely yesterday after a very smooth and uneventful journey.  All the students were delighted to meet their partners at the station and after a quick good bye, the students went off with their new German families.

Today we met up with some of the students for a walk around Darmstadt town centre and Herr Karb explained some of the interesting sights and told us about Darmstadt’s history.  We had a quick Kaffee und Kuchen and then said good bye to the students.  Most of them were going swimming.

Tomorrow morning we will all meet up at school.