Borja Pérez-Mínguez | Testimonials North America

I arrived in Canada on September 4th and my Canadian family was waiting for me at the airport.

My host mother loves to cook, try new recipes and talks a lot! My host father is also very nice and likes to joke. He also likes the woodshop, in fact he has made himself most of the furniture at the house. They have 3 sons, 24, 28 and 29 years old. They all live at their own places.

Here every house has a different color, there are red ones, blue ones, green ones, yellow ines, white ones, etc. My house is located in a very safe and quiet neighbourhood. It has 3 bedrooms, one bathroom, the kitchen and the living room. There is another floor downstairs and it has been shaped into an independent apartment. Every house also has a backyard and most of them have barbacues. There is also a little garden with plants in spring and summer.

My school is about 15 minutes away by school bus, and it’s huge, it has 4 floors!

The labs are at the first floor, as well as the cafeteria, culinary arts classes, principal office, music rooms, drama class and some soundproof rooms for students to practice with their instruments. At the second floor you can find the science classes, (physics, biology, chemistry, etc), and at the third floor you have the lenguage classes with English, French, Spanish and German.

There are many lockers in every hallway and mine is at the third floor, but I changed it for another in the first one since most of my classes are on the first floor. It took me a while to learn how to open the locker since we don’t have those in Spain and the first weeks my friends had to open it for me, but eventually I learned how to use it, just like in the movies.

The classes start at 9h and finish around 15h. Every class takes about one hour and we get a recess after the two first ones. Lunch is at 12h and we get around 45 minutes. One thing I really liked was the school gave granola bars, fruits and juice to everyone who didn’t have time for breakfast.

The first day of school there is a list on the wall with your name on it and it tells you where to go. This is your homeroom and that teacher is your tutor. In every class you have a different group of classmates according to the subjects you choose. I had healthy living, French, phyisics, drama, English, science and mathematics.

That same day I met all the international students and the school staff told us the school bus stop we had to use to get here from our houses. At the bus I met a student from Tenerife and we became close friends until December since she was just staying for 4 months.

During the first weekend, our organization arranged an activity for all the international students so we could all meet and also to introduce us to our coordinators. We made lots of friends that day and everybody was very friendly. We went to the beach, had a bonfire and ate hot dogs and marshmallows.

In winter they also took us for a ski trip. You could choose between skiing and snowboarding and I had a great time. If you didn’t know how to do it you could take classes and if you knew, you could ski on your own.

At the school there are many extracurricular activities, clubs and sports and they are played in different seasons. You can play football, soccer, basketball, ping pong, frisbee, cheerleading, chorus, etc. I joined the cheerleading squad and the chorus.

With the cheerleaders we won first place at a competition in our category. There were many schools and clubs and we won! We had two performances, one on the morning and another that same afternoon. The award is a medal and a banner we got to sign and hang at the school’s gym. It was a great experience!

Another tradition I really liked was Halloween. Everybody decorates their houses and gardens with pumpkins, spider webs, ghosts, etc. I wen with my host family to a farm to buy our own pumpkins and it was great since you can pick the one you like the most, empty it and draw a face on it. In Spain I had a little bag for Halloween for trick or treat, but here I had to use my pillow case since we got a lot of candy and chocolate bars!! My costume was a gothic girl and I went with y friends later to a Halloween party arranged by the organization with pleny of food and music and it was a lot of fun. I love the energy and spirit they put into it!

Another tradition my host family celebrated was Eastern since a lot of friends and family joined us for dinner at home. We had turkey and whe I woke up I found chocolate eggs all over the house. My friend’s host families also gave me a lot of chocolates that day. They also celebrate the May 24th weekend with parties, picnics and eating with friends and family. I love how close they all are!

In March, my family from Spain invited me to New York for a week and I loved it since it was very close from Newfoundland. I flew to Toronto (3 hours) and then New York (2 hours). I really loved New York city since it’s just like in the movies. I took a lot of photos there!

Regarding the process of studying abroad, I had been thinking about it for years and once I asked my parents about it we started looking for agencies in Madrid. I was very excited and two of my friends were also going to study abroad. We found this company, International Academic Programs very close to our home and choose Canada for my program.

My mother was afraid because it was an entire year away (I flew to Madrid for Christmas holidays)  but eventually my father and I could convince her into it since I was sure it was going to be a great experience, I was going to be able to learn English, meet new cultures, people, etc. We chose Newfoundland because it was the closest province from Europe and the time difference was just 4.5 hours.

At the end of the academic year, returning to Spain was hard for me. I was very excited to see again everybody, but I knew I was really going to miss my life in Canada. It didn’t take long for me to adapt again to the schedule in Spain because it was already summer.

I really recommend studying one year abroad because it teaches you to appreciate everything you have, your family, your friends, your house, and really helps you growing up and mature. I have met incredible people who will be my friends forever and they are always telling me to visit them.

I regret a little bit not getting involved since the beggining with Canadian students since when you arrive it’s always easier to connect with the international students, but most of them usually stay until for 4 months,, so then you have to open up to the Canadians and I wish I had done it earlier since I made a lot of great friends.

I hope I get to visit back again all my friends in Canada and I have invited them all to visit me here in Madrid, Spain.

Alea, 10th grade: Canada, Newfoundland. 

At the following link you will find all the details about the public schools with host families program in Canada:

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