A day in the life of Network Exchange students


Isabella Nardis '24 and Avery Kim '24

Sacred Heart Network Exchange students detail their experiences exploring a foreign country.

Network Exchange students visiting Sacred Heart Greenwich watch the sunrise on the school bus, while, across the ocean, others savor magdalena muffins for breakfast and enjoy the afternoon siesta in Spain.  Sophomores Camila Oliva and Helena Randolph host Carmen de Francisco and Carmen Sánchez de Cos, respectively, from Sagrado Corazón de Jesús in Madrid, Spain.  Junior Annie Cornell studied with Leonor Pérez de Ayala at Santa María del Valle in Sevilla, Spain December 28, 2021, through January 16.  Carmen F., Carmen S., and Annie provide a glimpse into daily life as a Network Exchange student.

Left to right, Camila Oliva ’24, Carmen de Francisco, Carmen Sánchez de Cos, and Helena Randolph ’24 sit together in the King Street Chronicle newsroom.  Isabella Nardis ’24


In Greenwich, Connecticut, Carmen F. wakes up at 6 a.m. and waits with Camila to take the bus to Sacred Heart.  In contrast, her day in Madrid begins at 8 a.m.  There, she eats breakfast and walks seven minutes to her school.  Carmen F. explained that she enjoys riding in “the yellow buses” of the United States because of their iconic color.  She also mentioned that she loves viewing the scenery on the bus ride to and from school. 

“The two best times of the day for me are the morning and the afternoon because it is the sunrise and sunset,” Carmen F. said.  “You can see the sky, and it is really pretty.  I will miss these views.”


Carmen S. also visits Greenwich from Sagrado Corazón de Jesús in Madrid, Spain.  Carmen S. enjoys lunch because it is an opportunity for her to socialize and make new friends.  She has fun trying new foods in the United States, sharing that, in Spain, she does not have bagels, Goldfish, or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. 

Additionally, Carmen S. detailed the difference in mealtimes.  In Spain, she eats lunch at 2:30 p.m. and dinner at 9 p.m or 10 p.m., whereas, in Greenwich, she eats lunch at 12:30 p.m or 1:20 p.m. and dinner at 6 p.m.  As Carmen S. adapts to alternate mealtimes, she also adjusts to consistently speaking English. 

“At first, [speaking English] was so hard because everyone talked too fast for me,” Carmen S. said.  “If you just go to English class [in Spain], you learn how to make a sentence, but you don’t learn how to have a conversation.”

Across the Atlantic Ocean, Annie attends classes with Leonor at Santa María del Valle in Sevilla, Spain.  Similar to Carmen S., Annie enjoys experiencing lunch in a foreign country.  In Sevilla, classes finish at 2:30 p.m., and students return home to eat lunch with their families.  Alternatively, in Greenwich, classes finish at 3:20 p.m., and students eat lunch earlier in the day at Sacred Heart. 

“Obviously it is nice to have lunch at school with your friends, but this is a different kind of nice,” Annie said.  “It is not as rushed.  It just feels calmer.”

Annie has tasted traditional foods from Sevilla, including jamón or ham, and magdalenas or small muffins.  Annie purchases magdalenas for breakfast from nuns in a nearby abbey. 

After eating lunch with Leonor and her family, Annie participates in the siesta.  The siesta is traditionally a short afternoon nap.  It is a common practice in countries like Spain with hot climates, and it occurs between lunch and dinner.  Annie described the siesta as “you-time.”

“I always knew that in the United States we are rush, rush, rush, but it is so different actually being immersed in this culture,” Annie said.  “For essentially seven hours, it is just slow time for you to spend with your family.”


Annie Cornell ’23 tours a village in Spain with Leonor Perez de Analya on a weekend excursion.  Courtesy of Annie Cornell ’23

As Carmen F. watches the sunset in the United States, Annie writes about her day in her journal.  Annie memorializes her daily activities, recording new words and phrases she learned in Spanish.  After a few days in Sevilla, Annie reflected that, as she wrote her ideas in English, her brain simultaneously translated her ideas into Spanish.  Annie has noticed substantial improvement in her Spanish skills as she hears the language constantly.

“I hear it on the TV downstairs.  I hear it in the music in the car.  I hear it in people talking at the grocery store.  I hear it at the store when I’m with the cashier,” Annie said.  “It is crazy that just by listening to different sounds and learning a new language, you become able to communicate with a whole different group of new people.  It blows my mind.”

Annie discussed the unifying power of Sacred Heart’s faith and religious values.  In fact, one of the reasons she applied for Network Exchange was because of her curiosity about how other countries practice faith. 

“For me, this whole experience is guided by Goal One, a personal and active faith in God,” Annie said.  “I have learned so much about how our differences are so minor compared to our similarities.  We are all very much the same.  You are looking at this whole diverse group of people, but when you put it into perspective, we’re all children of God.”

Featured Image by Isabella Nardis ’24 and Avery Kim ’24