Meet Brookelynn- SYA Spain 2022
Extracurriculars Abroad: Cooking class, ceramics, volleyball, Joven Erasmus club, student government, and the gym.
Favorite SYA Class: Art History with Sole!
Favorite Food in Spain: ALL tapas but especially tortilla de patata con cebolla. For pastries, the best one is trenza de chocolate with a cappuccino from El Criollo. And the best dinner is obviously veggie paella.
School You Attend: Culver Academies
Hometown: Rapid City, SD
Q: How SYA impacted your college application process
A: SYA makes you stand out in your college applications because it shows how after living abroad at only 16 years old, you have a higher level of maturity, independence, and open-mindedness than many of your peers. I have been accepted into all of the colleges I applied to. However, I have decided to defer my acceptance and scholarship until 2024. Next year I will be taking a gap year. Last year living abroad at SYA really opened my eyes to how big, beautiful and diverse the world we live in is. It has inspired me to take this gap year to explore and better understand both the world and myself.
Q: One of your favorite host family memories
A: My host family is truly a gem. I cannot express how much I love them with words, and I feel overwhelmingly lucky to have shared so many incredible memories with them. One of my favorite memories is a long weekend spent in Girona. Girona is where my host mom is from so, we would go there frequently to visit her side of the family. And I LOVED each time we went. In the morning Papa Raúl and I would go on a hike that began at the host grandma’s house and ended on a small mountain peak where you could see a perfect view of the ocean and the city of Girona. Then we hiked back and had a breakfast of fresh fruit and avocado toast with the family. After breakfast, my host brother and I went to go rock climbing on these old castle ruins called Montjuic for a few hours until lunch. When we came back the sun was hot, so we went for a dip in the host grandma’s pool in the backyard. Before I knew it extended family came flooding in and I was introduced to countless uncles, aunts, cousins, and dogs. They were all SO NICE. They complimented me on my Spanish and taught me how to play some games from the local area. Talking with them was so fun and they were so curious for me to tell them about America and what I thought of Spain. We had a huge dinner that night with all the extended family. It was a night full of laughter and good food. From sunrise to sunset, it was a perfect day. I’m so thankful for my host family and all the precious memories I have with them.
Q: What did you learn abroad that surprised you
A: One thing I learned abroad that surprised me was how quickly strangers can become family. I arrived in Spain in September knowing absolutely nobody. My SYA peers, my host family, and the citizens of Zaragoza were complete strangers and a mystery to me. Little did I know then, but in 10 months saying goodbye to those exact people would be the greatest heartbreak of my life. During my year abroad I made so many lifelong friends, whom I still keep in touch with today. My host family completely robbed my heart and I still call them weekly. I even befriended waitresses at cafes where I was a frequent customer, and they knew my order before I would even talk. All of these people were strangers to me. Now I can’t imagine my life without them.