Ever since I know Kerstin, one of my best friends who happens to come from Chile and speaks Spanish, I have been fascinated by the language. From what I have been experiencing, Spanish-speaking people are known to be very lovable, nice and also full of temperaments. I love listening to Spanish music (mainly pop, bachata and salsa songs). And I love listening my Spanish-speaking friends, simply because their conversations are ALWAYS full of emotions and movements 🙂 And so, speaking Spanish has been one of my dreams since the last couple of years.
What I learned from my German-learning experience is: if I want to learn a new language, I need to take an extra time to be able to learn it in a local place, where I can have a full language and living experience. I did took a Spanish course during med school for a semester, but it was only once a week. As imagined, my Spanish didn’t develop whatsoever.. Then I was busy with my other goals, so that I didn’t continue the language course anymore.
After weighing some of the options, I decided to learn Spanish in Madrid two years ago in 2014. I wanted to do a short „sabbatical“ and do other things outside of medicine. I was sure then, that it was the perfect opportunity to start learning Spanish again.
Why Madrid? It was primarily because of the location and cost. I wanted to experience a Spanish life in the heart of the country and I always like living in a big city. Madrid seemed to me as an excellent option, since it has everything I need and it’s only 3-hours away by flight from Germany. And I happened to know two Spanish friends, who live in Madrid. I had been to Barcelona a couple of times and also in the Canary islands, but I had never been in the capital of Spain. I wanted to learn the „high“ – Spanish (Castellano) and not begin with dialects (Catalonian in Barcelona or the Canarian dialect). So after some research of where to do the Spanish course and where I could live, I went for Madrid the first time in November 2014.
The experience proved to be an excellent one. Madrid is a city full of life! The architecture, the culture, the people, the food..everything is just beautiful! I once again was privileged to live in a new culture and it felt just as my exchange year in Germany in 2003, as I was only 17 years old. I stayed in an Air Bnb room in an apartment of a Spanish lady, together with some other people. My landlady Margarita couldn’t speak English, which was perfect, so that I was „forced“ to speak only Spanish. Just as I expected, the Spanish people are so warm-hearted and open. I had a really good time in Margarita’s apartment, feeling like I was at home.
I was so inspired and highly motivated to speak Spanish, that I decided to take a super-intensive course for 4 weeks (6 hours per day, 5 days a week). There are a lot of language schools in Madrid. My choice was Inhispania, just because it was the most found school in Google. They have good reviews and reasonable prices. The whole procedure was very simple. I did a placement test in the internet prior of my departure to Spain, paid a downpayment with a credit card and Inhispania took care of the rest. They sent me good information materials prior of my arrival, that I already had a good feeling about the school even before I arrived in Madrid.
The four weeks in Madrid were opening my eyes for the second time in my life. This world is open to us to discover! I truly felt privileged and enchanted to be able to live a „short“ Spanish life in the capital city of Spain. It was a beyond good experience, meeting so many great new friends, even made a very good friendship with a girl from Stockholm (hello Anna! :*).
I fell in love so hard with Madrid, that I decided to come back again in 2016 to refresh my language.
Here are some of my tips for you who want to learn Spanish:
– Do get a good language school! There are so many good language schools in Madrid, which I have heard of. My personal experience in Inhispania was good, so feel free to check the school out (http://inhispania.com/) -> please note that I’m not doing any kind of advertisements here, I’m only sharing my personal experience). Inhispania has flexible classes, friendly administrative staffs and professional teachers. The location is also very strategic, as being so close to the „Metropolis“-building in the Gran vía. They always arrange afternoon/evening activities for its students, which also provide to be a good way to meet people and practice Spanish outside of the class. We did things such as going to tapas bars or cafés, visiting museums, visiting Toledo, going to „intercambio-bars“, watching Spanish films and some other stuffs. All in all, I am satisfied with this school.
– Stay in an accommodation, preferably together with some other Spaniards. The more contact you have with native people, the faster it gets to learn the language. I used to chat a lot with my landlady over a coffee in the afternoon. On some days I did some telenovela watching with her too! The Spaniards speak extremely fast though, so I really didn’t understand a single word in the first week. But it got remarkably better!
– Go to some „intercambio“ (language exchange) bars. These are some bars, where you could meet new people and practice your Spanish in exchange for another language. In some bars you get flag stickers of the languages you speak, so that people can recognize easily which languages you speak. There are a lot of Spanish people, who are interested in learning English, German, Russian, Chinese, etc. I did have some nice evenings in the bars, talking with nice Spaniards and practice my Spanish, while also helping them practice English or German. Unfortunately I didn’t meet anyone who learned Indonesian ;). These are some bars, that are known to do „intercambio“ :
- Beer Station, calle Santo Domingo, 22 (Metro: Santo Domingo, Callao). They usually have their „intercambio“-program on Thursdays (starting around 22:00).
- Café Madrid, calle Mesón de Paños, 6 (Metro: Ópera). Intercambio is usually on Wednesdays and Thursdays (Starting around 21:00)
- La Excéntrica, calle Fuentes, 10 (Metro: Ópera). This place is a meeting point of a group called MadridBabel (check their website at http://madridbabel.weebly.com/). They meet up twice a week on Wednesday and Sunday evenings and organize the „intercambio“).
– Try to speak as much Spanish as possible. Order your food in Spanish, ask for toilettes or directions in Spanish, sing Spanish songs. Spanish people are very kind and they are very happy to hear you trying to speak their language. They always tell me, that I could speak a perfect Spanish, even if I could only say „¿hola, que tal?“, „gracias“ or „¡hasta luego!“.
– Try to read Spanish magazines or books. If you are staying for a longer period of time, do visit the library of Cervantes (Biblioteca del Instituto Cervantes), calle Barquillo 6, Madrid. The entrance is free and the library card is also free. They have a very good collection of films and books! Unfortunately I heard about this by the end of my stay, so I couldn’t really use this great offer. Also very interesting and fun is to visit the book market in front of the Retiro Park. The book selections are amazing and you will find so many great books from children books to serious classical literatures!
Allright then.. I hope, that this entry can be of help for some of you who also want to learn Spanish in Madrid.