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Shannen Chacon in Tabarca

Junior Journal #3: Shannen Chacon ‘25

May 25, 2023

Florida Southern’s Junior Journey is one of the highlights of the educational experience students can expect at the College. There are a number of trips throughout the year with destinations like Germany and Spain among the most popular. The goal of this blog is to give an insight into what goes on before, during, and after the trip so that future travelers can have an idea of what to expect.

Editor’s Note: This will be a weekly feature, with this week’s entry chronicling Shannen’s second week in Spain.

From our impromptu group visit to
Pynchon & Co., one of our teacher’s
favorite bookstores. I will need to go
back for this book I loved as a child!

Buenas, Mocs. As I write this post, I’m sitting by the window in my room, watching the rain fall on the city of Alicante. The weather here this past week has been abnormal: raining, often cloudy, with lower temperatures than are typical for this time of year. In school, our four different classes all rotated teachers, so I’ve been enjoying getting to know two new teachers. As much as I love exploring, school is always a highlight of my week, as I’m learning how to put together so many pieces of the language.

These are churros and chocolate from
“La Madrileña.” I expect to visit again
before we leave.

On Tuesday, some of our group attended a class to learn how to dance salsa and bachata. We had a great time! Afterwards, I went to try a gym recommended by my host sister with my friends Katie and Valentina. Weightlifting in kilos and running on treadmills in kilometers has been fun. After school on Wednesday, we all took the tram to Villajoyosa. There, we toured the Perez Chocolate Factory. You would be amazed at how many health benefits chocolate holds! We got to try some of the most delicious chocolate, made from cacao sourced from different countries. We walked around the village a bit before hopping back on the tram to get home for dinner. 

Italian friends
Caroline and I on the ends with new Italian
friends who got live with our host family
for a week. They are studying both Spanish
and English.

On Thursday, we did a scavenger hunt activity around the city in groups with our teachers in the morning to take the place of our grammar class. Our group’s teacher, Víctor, ended up showing us his favorite bookstore. Of course, I had to visit later when I had more time to look around, and I bought Matilda by Roald Dahl in Spanish. Caroline and I also went to an eatery called La Madrileña in the evening with Emily for chocolate and churros, which were absolutely delicious.

This is the entrance to the MARQ.
Remarkable architecture in addition
to amazing exhibits inside.

On Friday morning, Caroline and I said goodbye to two Italian girls living with us that we had made friends with during the week. We scurried across the street to class in the rain that morning, and it rained almost the whole time we were in class. After class, we took the tram to the Archaeological Museum of Alicante (Museo Arqueologico de Alicante, MARQ) with Katie and our friend Emily. Currently, the museum has an exhibit about the Qin & Han Dynasty, which we enjoyed. 

Valencia Dog
From the park in Valencia. This dog and
her owner were both so kind and made
for a fun lunch break.

Our weekend outing as a group this past Saturday was a visit to Valencia, the third largest city in Spain (after Madrid and Barcelona). Upon arrival, we took a tour of the city to see their beautiful plazas, architecture, and bustling central market. For our picnic lunch break, my friend Valentina and I walked to a nearby park where a river used to flow through but now it is full of green spaces and beautiful flowers. We even made friends with a dog who just wanted to play fetch with “palos” (sticks). We stopped by the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia before heading back to Alicante. The City of Arts and Sciences was designed by the same architect of Florida Polytechnic, Santiago Calatrava.

From Tabarca. Believe it or not - we climbed
those rocks and swam in the water (with lots
of beautiful fish).

Katie, Caroline, Emily, and I were feeling adventurous, so we spent our Sunday on the Island of Tabarca. We took a 40-minute ferry ride from the coast of Alicante. Tabarca is the smallest inhabited island in Spain, and it was once a refuge for pirates. We spent the day swimming in the clear blue Mediterranean, eating seafood paella, and exploring the small town area. 

I’ve learned so much this week. Thinking about the fact that we have about two more weeks feels both exciting and sad. Although I’m already thinking about how I could come back again, for now, I’m soaking up the time I have with my new friends here. ¡Chao!

Dance ClassThis is a group photo from the dance class with our awesome instructor, Emy.