(A note to Karl Kostenbader from Sam Golden - our exchange student in Spain)
I want to start by saying thank you for checking in on me. I was meaning to write to you and Pat sometime soon, but like you guessed, I’ve been using most, if not all of my waking hours here getting myself acclimated. In other words, I’ve been keeping myself quite busy during my time here so far!
It was a bit of a shaky start right before I boarded my plane in Seattle, but once I was in the air and on my way to Spain things started to feel like they were lining up very nicely. All three of my flights went through without any delays, and after 24 hours of travelling I had finally landed in Spain and was greeted by host family with open arms.
I felt like I could tell right from the moment that I actually met my host family that they were the right fit for me, and visa-versa. They were very welcoming when I first arrived, and didn’t hesitate to get me involved in their lives. They are very active in their community, love to travel, and are interested in sports as well as hunting.  I have to host brothers, Alejandro who is 12, and Joaquin who is 19. Joaquin spent a few months abroad living in Port Angeles, WA (which is quite a coincidence), so he is the only one in the family who speaks any English. It was helpful to have him to speak with the first few days, but we quickly transitioned over to speaking only Spanish. 
As far as my day-to-day activities go, I have school five days a week unless we have holidays, which is the case quite often here in Spain. I started school on my third day here, and thankfully I had already made friends with a few of the people from my class, so I had them to help me out during my first couple weeks. During my leisure time, which is between the time I get home from school and the time we have dinner, I have a variety of things that I usually choose do to.
I try to put aside a good amount of time every day to study and do homework so I can stay caught up in my classes, but I don’t exactly over-do it. I want to do good in school, but I also have no intention of spending all of my time alone in my room studying, so every day I like to get out of the house so that I can see more of the town and it’s people/culture. With my friends, we will usually go out for coffee, walk around town, or go over to each others’ houses to visit. I’m finding out that I improve my language skills the most when I’m with my friends, and not in the classroom.
I’m also keeping up with my sports here as well. I signed up for a gym which is right down the street from my house, so I go there 2-3 times a week. My friends and I try to get together to play basketball at least once a week at one of the local parks, and I’ve even tried my hand at futbol, and decided that I better stick to basketball. One more thing that I’ve done recently, and I don’t think anyone, including myself, was expecting this: I found an American football team to play for. They’re based in the next town over, and practice three times a week. I’ve already signed up and our first game is next month.
As far as needing anything from my home Rotary club, at the moment there isn’t anything that I can think of. There were some kinks that we had to work out/ are still working out, most of which have to do with paperwork. First off, I was enrolled in the wrong grade when I got here, so we had to get me switched one grade lower. We’re still working on getting my DNI, which is my Spanish I.D. I also didn’t bring the correct transcript here with me, so we’re working on getting a new one. We followed the instructions on what to bring, but apparently they were false.
So, to summarize, I’d say that my exchange has been a success so far. My language skills have improved immensely, I’m settled in with my family, I’ve made lots of good friends who are helping me learn the culture of Spain as well as stay socially active, and I’m overall just enjoying myself immensely. I want to thank you all back home for giving me this wonderful opportunity, and I can’t wait to return and share my stories with all of my friends and family back home.
Sam Golden 
Click here to read more about Rotary Youth Exchange. 


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