Year in Spain the ‘best of my life’

Chloe FraserSound Telegraph
Shoalwater teen Jessica Hilton (second from right) recently returned from her 12-month you exchnage in Spain.
Camera IconShoalwater teen Jessica Hilton (second from right) recently returned from her 12-month you exchnage in Spain.

When Shoalwater teen Jessica Hilton left for her youth exchange to Spain a year ago, she could not speak a word of Spanish.

Now the 18-year-old is fluent in the language.

Trading the white sandy beaches of Rockingham for the third-largest city in the European Union, Jessica was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Palm Beach to spend 12 months living in Madrid as part of its youth exchange program. She said living abroad had opened her eyes to a new culture and a completely different way of life.

“I lived in an apartment in Madrid about 20 minutes away from the city with my host parents and host sister,” she said.

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“The year went so fast and I did so much. I went on a three-week tour around Europe, and did a boat tour and walking tours.

“Every single part of Spain is so different.

“I also went to school there and learnt Spanish in my spare time.

“After the first three months I could understand a little bit of Spanish; by the six months I was speaking it and by the nine-month mark I didn’t even have to think about it any more.

“It became a habit.”

Jessica said the experience was “the best year of my life”.

Adjusting to life back in Australia without free tapas and double-cheek kissing, Jessica is preparing to start university, where she will work towards a degree in chiropractic science.

She hopes to continue to travel the world and has already planned her next adventure to Greece and Turkey later this year.

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