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Sojourn to Spain
June 16, 2012
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Two Holy Trinity grads spend five weeks overseas

By Starrla Cray
Staff Writer

WINSTED, MN – They’re not Spanish majors, but Brandon Schaust and Aaron Guennigsman didn’t let that stop them from having a “maravilloso” time in Spain recently.

“I am glad that I jumped on this chance, because it is one of the greatest things I have done in my life, and it will be something that I will never forget,” noted Schaust, who graduated with Guennigsman from Holy Trinity High School in 2010.

As students at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Guennigsman and Schaust both felt that studying abroad would be an ideal way to fulfill the school’s language requirement.

“And, I knew it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity to go to Spain with 26 fellow college students,” Schaust said.

Although neither Schaust nor Guennigsman are fluent in Spanish, being immersed in the language quickly improved their communication skills.

“Taking Spanish 111 in the fall of 2011 helped refresh my memory from Holy Trinity, but it still did not prepare me for hearing the language from the mouths of native speakers,” Guennigsman noted. “But, by the end of our five-week trip, I was able to effectively hold simple conversations with Spaniards.”

“Spanish is definitely not my strong point,” Schaust added, explaining that they were enrolled in a basic-level Spanish course while studying abroad.

Each weekday included four hours of Spanish class in Plaza Viejo Coso with other students from St. John’s and St. Ben’s.

Guennigsman and Schaust also practiced the language while staying with their Spanish host families in Valladolid, about 130 miles northwest of Madrid.

“Our Spanish host mother made us toast and hot chocolate for breakfast every morning,” Guennigsman said.

He added that the food they ate in Spain was very fresh, especially the meats. A typical meal included two or three kinds of meat, such as pork chicken, beef, and ham.

“We also usually ate a fried egg and patatas fritas (similar to french fries) every meal, but we also had pasta, rice, and seafood occasionally,” Guennigsman said.

Every Saturday, they had the opportunity to explore different areas of Spain.

“On these day-trips in the cities of Salamanca, Burgos, and Segovia, we saw cathedrals, monasteries, sculptures, and castles,” Guennigsman said. “We also had one Friday-to-Sunday stretch free, so we were allowed to make our own travel plans.”

For Schaust, this long weekend was the best part of the trip.

“Aaron and I went to San Sebastian, which is in northern Spain,” he said. 

Throughout the weekend, they visited the top-rated beaches in the country, walked through the city, and took a short train ride into Hendaye, France.

Opportunities ahead
Now that they’re back in Minnesota, Schaust and Guennigsman are getting ready for their third year at St. John’s University.

Schaust, the son of Marlene and Thomas Schaust, is majoring in nutrition, with a focus in exercise science and sports studies. After graduation, he plans to enter a two-year graduate program.

While at Holy Trinity, Schaust was a four-year letter winner and team captain for basketball and football. He also served as treasurer for the National Honor Society and as student council vice president.

Guennigsman, the son of Allan and Patricia Guennigsman, is a mathematics major and computer science minor. In the future, he plans to attend graduate school for math.

Guennigsman was the 2010 valedictorian at Holy Trinity, and was active in Knowledge Bowl, student council, and yearbook staff. He also attended the American Legion Boys’ State, and tutored younger students.

Guennigsman and Schaust both said they are glad they took time out of their schedules to study abroad.

“The biggest piece of advice that I can give as a result of my experience would be to start traveling early in life if the opportunities are there,” Schaust said.

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