A student's holiday abroad

MVRHS student Monica Carroll celebrates the holiday season with other exchange students during her year abroad in Madrid, Spain. Monica is in the back row, second from left. —Monica Carroll

By Sophia McCarron

While many are gathering with family this holiday season, others are thousands of miles away. Senior Monica Carroll is part of the Rotary Youth Exchange, and is currently in Tenerife in the Canary Islands. In Spain, there is a celebration on Christmas Eve with a big dinner, and people get to open one gift. She said, “In my house [on Martha’s Vineyard], my family doesn’t really do anything special for Christmas Eve, so I like that [in Tenerife] they have a huge gathering of friends and family, like Thanksgiving.”

Around the world the holidays are celebrated differently. Monica said, “We don’t have a Christmas tree.” When she was in Madrid, she stayed with a family, and they had a small tree, but it isn’t as big a deal as it is in the United States. “They also don’t decorate the houses with Christmas lights like we do,” Monica said.

She is looking forward to participating in a New Year’s tradition: When the bells chime at midnight, everyone eats one grape for each of the 12 chimes as quickly as possible to symbolize 12 lucky months ahead.