Friday marks our last day at school for the time being. We expect that we will book another few weeks some time in the new year, but this week has been the last in our initial 5 week course. To mark this auspicious occasion, I wanted to just jot down a few memories so that we had some form of aide-memoire of our time at Escuela Delengua and the people we have met whilst there.
Personally, I can’t quite believe that it was 7 weeks ago that we started to learn Spanish in Granada: we took a 5 week course over a 7 week period. It has certainly not been easy, but when you think about what we have learned, almost from scratch, we have achieved a huge amount - 4 past tenses, a future tense, much more vocabulary than we previously had at our disposal, and the ability to understand what people now say and the capacity to reply in some shape or form that makes a passing nod to the Spanish language. I am proud of the progress we have made.
But what of our fellow students? Part of the fun of school is the social side of meeting new people who have all come here for the same thing: to learn the language.
We started off in a class of 4 students; there were supposed to be 6 but I will come to that in a moment. Me, Andrew, a young German called Chris and a lady from Boston, MA, called Heather.
The class was also supposed to include a 26 year old American by the name of Travis and a young Dutchman called Frank. It appeared that their collective reputations preceded these two men, as they were somewhat part-time. It was a constant surprise to the teachers when either Frank or Travis materialised. We understand that Frank has signed up for another 10 weeks at the school, but he came to our classes twice and has not been seen in the school again. However, Andrew and I did see him sauntering, with a friend, past a bar a week or so ago.
Travis has been seen more frequently, but on a very ad hoc basis. Travis is due to be in Granada for a year; his girlfriend is teaching somewhere outside the city. However, the general feeling is that Travis enrolled as a student so he could get a year-long visa, as his heart is most definitely not in learning Spanish. In the past two weeks, Travis came to one lesson and I was paired up with him for an exercise, but 2 minutes into the exercise he received a call to his mobile, gave his rapid apologies and vanished. He returned later that week to say that, on Friday instead of coming to school, he would be going for the weekend to Amsterdam. He didn’t come back for a week.
Poor Travis. On that basis it was little wonder that his grasp of the language was not massively tight. In class, whenever he was asked a question, his standard response was “Oh Gosh; no se” followed by an answer delivered entirely in English.
After our first week, Heather, the lovely lady from Boston, left to spend time with her brother and sister travelling a bit in Spain before returning home. She was delightful company.
We had a week off and when we returned, Denise had joined the class along with a Danish chap called Casper. Denise had been a specialist paediatric nurse at St Thomas’ Hospital in London but was now returning to her native Australia. Casper and his girlfriend were spending two weeks in Granada, I believe, and they were all a refreshing addition to the school.
After our second week at school, Andrew and I had another break as my daughter, Lucie, had been to visit. When we returned, it was all change again. Chris, the young German, had made great strides in our absence, mainly because he had initially lived in the school and had started to make Spanish friends. For many of the international students, English is not their first or even second language, so the only language they have in common is Spanish. It makes sense, then, that these international students rapidly become accustomed to communicating in Spanish as their main language.
We were joined by a young French lady called Marie, a Dutch chap called Tristan and as Chris moved to a more advanced level, we were also introduced to a Chinese female student by the name of Huang He. Huang He is an absolute hoot; mad as a March Hare.
I am still not quite sure what Huang He did back in China, but it had something to do with international business development. She is enrolled in the school for a year, and has been through most of the grammar levels, but has had difficulty with pronunciation, so she tends to flit around different levels accordingly. Everyone in the school seems to know Huang He.
Some of the things we have learned about Huang He:
- Huang He is (quite rightly, as she is a lady) secretive about her age;
- The population of her ‘village’, as she described it, is either 1,300,000 or 13,000,000 - I am not quite sure, but it is a significant number! I believe it might be the latter….
- Huang He is always late; she often wakes up in the middle of the night and plays Candy Crush, falls asleep at 4am, sleeps through 4 or 5 alarms and then stumbles into class;
- Huang He has 3 mobile phones, but we have no idea why;
- Huang He spends 2 hours of every day in the bathroom; we didn’t ask….
- She does NOT like Spanish shampoo
- At University, 30 students on the floor of her residence shared 1 bathroom. We think it was 30 people, but it could have been more (see above population numbers)
We love Huang He, and there is no doubt that she brings massive character to the classes.
This week, our final week of this course, saw the arrival of Dorthe from Denmark and Ines from Berlin, both fabulous ladies of (I hope they won’t mind me saying) almost my generation! Although we won’t be at school next week, Andrew and I hope to arrange something with these two so that we can enjoy something cultural together and then we can introduce them to our Tuesday night intercambio to help them with their (already pretty competent!) Spanish.
We both agree that it is going to be rather pleasant to get a bit of our life back from next week, as school is all-consuming. However, I have no doubt that we are going to miss it dreadfully, not only because it is massively rewarding to be challenging ourselves to learn another language, but it has also been an immense and unexpected pleasure to meet these great people who are also on their own individual voyages of discovery.