On 31st of October, fifty of us made our way to Gatwick airport. Passing through security, we were let loose in duty-free, allowing the teachers to gather their wits before we boarded the plane in an excitable frenzy, the ratio of IHS students to fellow passengers being approximately 5:1. We landed in Madrid and an hour later we arrived at our hotel located near Parque del Retiro. For several hours, we were all given free reign to explore the streets of Madrid, practise our (pigeon) Spanish and soak up the surrounding culture, as well as to familiarise ourselves with the usual hotel novelties. By half past seven, the city was buzzing, particularly with it being Halloween. After a quick pit-stop, we headed to Museo del Jamon for a feast of ham, ham and more ham.

By 9:30am the next morning we had been fed, watered and were ready to set out in groups on our treasure hunt. Selfies with statues, police, impromptu role-plays outside iconic buildings (often attracting bewildered glances from passersby), interaction with the public and general sight-seeing were among the many tasks set. The changing of the guards at the Palacio Real was indeed a memorable experience for those who caught it. On our adventures, we were also encouraged to use the Metro. For some groups this took a bit of trial and error but it certainly saved energy as we had a lot of ground to cover in a short space of time.

On Day Three, the same protocol applied. We were up at dawn as we were making the trip to IE (Instituto de Empresa) university, a multi-lingual institute with other sister universities across the globe. The campus itself was striking and modern yet welcoming at the same time. We listened to two speakers, both of whom spoke flawless English. They were enthusiastic, inspiring and told us about the courses unique to IE, which included Entrepreneurship and Data Sciences. Their talks focused not only on life at university but on leadership and character too, which encouraged thought-provoking discussions. We visited the ‘Wow’ room, which certainly lived up to its name. Inside, a giant concave screen greeted us, on which lecturers were able to communicate with students from all over the world. We also had a chance to socialise with some of the current students at lunch.

Afterwards we were given another few hours to roam free, collect souvenirs and hoard churros before we returned to base and prepared for the homeward journey.

We can safely speak for everyone that the Sixth Form Escape was an incredible experience. The freedom we were given made us push our boundaries and stand on our own two feet.

By Sophie H. Ellie B. and Hannah I. Sixth Form Students