Studying Spanish in Spain- Personal learning experience

spanish-flag-image by www.theguardian.comWhen I first started to learn Spanish, I joined a night class and then, after five weeks of learning, I set off on holiday to Spain to test out what I felt I had already accomplished.

Big mistake.

I got to the hotel reception and got ready to spit out some words. I say spit, because part of speaking Spanish is about getting your tongue around the different shapes which you never had to master in your own language. Unfortunately for me, the receptionist in the hotel didn’t have the patience to let me finish my offering and simply took over on the whole check-in using English, which was far better than my Spanish. I curled up into a ball and decided not to embarrass myself like that again.

Finding an opportunity to practise Spanish is not easy, as most Spanish staff have had years of experience with foreign tourists and strangers aren’t always ready to chat with someone who isn’t yet able to string perfect sentences together. So that’s what made me decide to go down the line of enrolling with some organisation which could make those in-roads for me.

Holidays can be expensive and, as the purpose of my earlier holiday failed miserably at the first hurdle, paying for the service of GoStudySpain made so much sense. They were prepared to give me a tailored package which not only involved learning the language but also made it possible for me to get involved in the Spanish culture and cuisine, without being put off by over-confident staff.  They found suitable accommodation for me and provided me with a guide and both were welcome experiences as, not only had I got somewhere suitable to stay but I also had an immediate friend who knew why I was there and wasn’t going to spoil it for me.

The package provided also included free-time activities and the beauty of this was that I could visit other places, without having to hire a car and take to the foreign roads and somewhat different road signs. Also, I had instant friends in the other students, all of us with the same goals in mind.

Seal_University_of_Málaga- image by

I could have chosen a university course in Madrid, Salamanca or Barcelona but I chose to do a one term intensive course in the University of Malaga, because this airport had the best links for me with home and why not enjoy the sea and sand while you’re there, if you see what I mean. I am sure the other universities had points in their favour but I had holidayed in Malaga in earlier years, so I knew that I was going to like the place even before I got there.

I found that the university did offer some free-activities but they could sometimes be cancelled and I like everything to be in place when I’m learning. I most certainly didn’t want to worry about cancellations, as that wouldn’t have allowed for a clear head which could be dedicated to soaking up everything around me.

It was an incredible experience and my only regret is that I hadn’t stayed a little longer, maybe doing two terms instead of the one. Still, a lot can be taken on board in one term, as the classroom, the free time activities and the friends you make along your journey all enhance the experience.

I’ve since been on holiday to Spain and the receptionist didn’t take over on my conversation.  He actually said that I spoke Spanish well.  Okay, I might not have spoken Spanish as quickly as he spoke English but I did it. I checked in, got him to change my room for another and had a feeling of belonging. You can’t really beat that, can you?