Rotary Youth Exchange student Monika Zaldua shared about her life and family in Spain at Tuesday’s gathering.
She is attending Cleveland High School, while living with host families for one year.
“I am a fanatic of soccer. I love it,” Zaldua said. “Today I’m doing Skype with my dad in Spain because there is a semifinal, so I can watch it.”
She told the club she also enjoys dancing, skiing, swimming and tennis.
“I’ve been playing tennis for nine years,” she said.
She also enjoyed playing hockey during the three months she spent in England as an exchange student.
Zaldua has two younger siblings and lives with her parents.
Her mom works in the Barcelona airport and her dad is a chemist.
The student also enjoys photography. She shared pictures she had taken of her city and her school during her presentation to the club.
In Barcelona, Zaldua attends a Catholic school originally started by the Jesuits. Her school has kindergarten through 12th grade.
“There are over 3,000 students,” she said.
Instead of semesters, her high school operates on a trimester schedule with every student taking 13 classes a year. Students take about seven classes a day. She said the school is more than 100 years old. The school day runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an hour and a half break for lunch. There is homework from these classes, but since students do not have the same classes every day it is not due right away.
Zaldua said this allows students to go home for lunch if they want to.
Each class has student who are in the same grade. For example, a senior in high school would be in a class with all seniors. She said her classes in Barcelona were more difficult than those she was taking here.
The school year starts in September and ends in June.
Zaldua said she has enjoyed her time in Cleveland, but adds as a 16-year-old with no license, a lack of ease of access to widespread public transportation limits what she can do.
She plans on continuing her education and said she wants to become a doctor.
Rotarians Stephen Carroll and Ann McCoin also shared their experiences with exchange programs. Carroll was an exchange student while in college, and studied stained glass and architecture in Paris. He lived in Spain for one year, and stayed with a host family. Carroll said the experience had a great impact on his professional work.
McCoin’s family was a host family in a similar program when she was a child. She said the Norwegian who stayed with them gave her a deeper interest in Norway, and was the reason McCoin later attended college there.