Spanish Immersion 1000???

Apr 13th, 2010, 08:14 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 657
Denise, you have broken the code! And moreover, you have hit my button!

I am probably 15 yrs older than you and for last 15 years have had the best possible trips by enrolling in immersion classes.

First stop, Antigua Guatemala. School was San Jose el Viejo. Best instruction I ever had. [One on one] Stayed with a family. VERY IMPORTANT NOTE ON STAYING WITH A FAMILY; When you give your age, they will say "no loud music, not coming in drunk at 3 am, i.e., an adult" You will end up staying with an older couple in a very comfortable home.

Three months after returning from my first trip, went back to Antigua. Good behavior got me a 2500 sq ft house, just built by a couple from Manhattan, with maid and guard. Same price as a room with a family. All due to the owner of the school - a native of Antigua, graduate of McGill U, and 20 year pilot with Air Canada.

Next on to Spain: Hispano Mundial in Granada. The owner/director, native of Granada, worked for the British Foreign Service training personnel in Spanish then opened his own school. Classes from 10:00-2:00. Expeditions from 8:00pm to 12:00am daily. Makeup of my first class: an older American [me], an older Brit architect/artist who just moved to Granada, two Japanese girls who are dealing not only with the language and learning a new alphabet, a very bright young Georgetown graduate who had done two summers on a farm in Norway, and this really neat Brit who was very congenial and, finally, a really handsome Brit dude - he finally confessed [AND I HAVE VERIFIED THIS] that he was a principal on MELROSE PLACE and, in airings in the next three weeks, would be killed off. He was, and the Herald Tribune editorialized that it was a mistake.

Next year- back to Spain While in Guatemala, I experienced Semana Santa in Antigua. If you are a "people person" this is very moving. The only Semana Santa celebration in the world which is larger than that in Antigua, is in Sevilla. Off to Sevilla. Enrolled early, requesting a studio in the Santa Cruz district. The school came thru with a place on Plaza Invalidades. Wonderful two weeks. Right in the middle of all the processions. School was ok. However, the school's ability to get me a place to stay that I would never have found on my own made it all worthwhile.

A couple of non school trips to Spain introduced me to San Sebastian. Therefore......

School in San Sebastian: Signed up for 3 weeks at Lenguaviva. Very good. Serious school. 65 students from all over the world. I requested family stay and hit the jackpot: Right on Boulevard, 50 ft from Parte Vieja. [I told you old people get the good deals!]

Other than my weekend in Lekeitio courtesy of mikelG, the highlight of the trip was a night in a basement jazz club in Sanse with some of my fellow students. The group was me, a medica from Holland, and pharmacista [?] from Germany, and a jewelry specialist from Switzerland. We were speaking Spanish and listening to a group singing American blues in French/English. This boy from Mississippi really felt like he was a part of the world. [The highlight of the evening when I could explain what "The Eagle flies on Friday" meant.]

Bottom line: If you are traveling solo, schools are a great option. You are footloose but the minute you get there you've 20-40 friends. They can tell you what to do, how to do it, and what not to do. Also, I really believe in family stays. What you learn in the home dwarfs what you will learn in class.
weber6560 is offline  
Apr 14th, 2010, 04:26 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 223
Does it have to be in A Coruna? For now yes, annhig, because my university would be waving my first year Spanish to take 1001 in Spring intersession - to catch up so to speak. The professor, who travels with the group, changes the universities he chooses each year depending on the level of his students. So next year it might be Sevilla or Salamanca or Granada. As for length of time, the month in Spain offers 6 credits for those students who are seriously studying Spanish. How serious will I be after dos cupos de vino tinto. Maybe if I become more fluent webber6560 I'll track down that Air Canada pilot - that sounds like heaven. The university languages department has planned trips to both Italy next month and to France as well for people interested in immersing themselves. Chocolate y churros here I come. I love all the suggestions and comments. Gracias
Denise is offline  
Apr 14th, 2010, 10:28 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,322
hola denise!

sounds like a very good reason to choose la coruna.

have a cupo de vino on me, but lay off the churros.
annhig is online now  
Apr 14th, 2010, 11:10 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 11,755
Go for it! I took a month-long Spanish class in Madrid when I was 64. I've also taken several German classes (at Goethe Institutes) in Germany--the most recent when I was 72. I plan on taking another next years, at which time I'll be 75.
Pegontheroad is online now  
Sep 19th, 2010, 02:07 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 223
Hello All:

I've returned from my month in La Coruna, Spain and my immersion in Spanish. I took an extra four days in Madrid before flying to La Coruna - loved Madrid as I had visited before. Spent more time at the Prado and other museums. Temps 42 c in the shade in Madrid at the end of July, I was just breathing heat.

Flew direct into La Coruna and stayed in Residencia Rialta at the university, which had everything I needed - we had a classes for 3 1/2 hours per day, about the same for homework. Food was inexpensive, we either cooked, or took the free university bus into La Coruna and ate outside of the tourist areas. Pulpo (octopus), baccala (salt cod), calamare, tortilla, cheese and tarte de Santiago, Galician bread (yum) and not to forget the wine, excellent value - all very good, I am missing the freshness of markets. Great beaches, the kids (meaning my classmates and room mates) loved them, I fried but enjoyed the heat. The temperatures were cooler along the coast in the high 20's c, and very pleasant. Travelled to Santiago twice, Pontedeume, the kids went to Betanzos for the wine drenching, found that during the month of August the cultural activities in La Coruna were endless. So something to do everyday - beautiful art work, great Galician lacework, leatherwork, jewelry, etc. on display and for sale. Saw lots of bagpipes, gaitas galega, Susana Selvane played them at an open air concert at Maria Pita Square to a packed audience, she was quite amazing. I also saw more traditional music by Milladorio who have played with the Chieftains. The music is very Galic with bodhran, flute, fiddle, hurdy gurdy, harp, mandolin, again gaitas and electric gaita!

Gallego is widely used on signage and spoken as well and if reading Spanish you can (sort of) understand the context - most people who spoke Gallego would switch to Spanish if you spoke to them.

After classes were finished my daughters joined me and we traveled to Portugal, Porto and Lisbon for a week. Now Portuguese might be more difficult to learn. The vinho verde and the douro wines, sardinhas, sea bass, were excellent. We stayed at the Grand Hotele Paris in Porto, great spot and visited the Taylor Flagate bodega for some port - very nice. In Lisbon we stayed at the Hotel Botanico just outside the Barrio Alto - again food was very good, was not impressed with the Barrio.

My flight from Lisbon was late and I missed my connecting so I had an extra day in Madrid, yeah!

What did I learn from this experience, you may ask? I learned that at 55 you can learn to/understand another language, maybe not fluently - yet. You can appreciate all types of music, including the stuff the kids played in the dorm, you can learn to study in a noisy environment (now I know why students can study to music), you can cook an entire meal on two hotplates and if hungry, it tastes great.

Better, however, I do have a greater appreciation of the cultural diversity in Spain and am hoping to do another immersion next year perhaps in another region. I'm now back at university and taking the next level of Spanish 2000 so its time to start saving my pennies.
Denise is offline  
Sep 19th, 2010, 04:48 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 416
Thanks much for writing about your Spanish immersion experiences, Denise and Weber6560. I've been learning Welsh and recently did a week-long total immersion "Bootcamp" (only Welsh, no English at all) through the same folks who run my online classes ( I'll do another one this coming year. What a remarkable difference it makes to your language skill when you must figure out how to say something! ("Hey, did anybody empty the dishwasher yet? Oh, and we're out of garbage bags.")

Anyhow, I have long been interested in learning Spanish, so will bookmark your comments for future reference. (For the foreseeable future, it's all Welsh for me.)

I'm curious whether anyone has encountered Cactus ( They run enticing-looking language vacations, with classes plus excursions, in a variety of languages -- Spanish, French, Italian, maybe more.
tahl is offline  
Sep 19th, 2010, 07:13 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 657

Many thanks for keeping us posted on your trip. Sounds wonderful. I think Galicia is one of he more interesting parts of Spain. Amazingly, Spain has perhaps as many different cultures and terrains as we have here in the US but packed into a smaller area. Thanks again.
weber6560 is offline  
Sep 20th, 2010, 04:24 AM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 4,760

I am glad that you enjoyed your trip to Galicia.
Did you think the classes value for money? Did you learn a lot?
I also saw Milladorio live. It was free concert lasting 2 hours. I want to see Susana Selvane too.
Did you realise that Portuguese and Galician are very similar?
ribeirasacra is offline  

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