Was I apprehensive about the first day? Not really – I knew that my Spanish was non-existent. I fully expected to cry into my pillow for the first week or two. Was I pleasantly surprised to find that the other 3 people in my class were from the U.S., Australia and the U.K., and that they also knew no Spanish? Absolutely! We are all at the same level and struggle equally.
There are two classes per day, one for conversation and one for grammar. My conversation teacher, Francesca, is native to Chile (actually, she’s from Vina del Mar, which is the second city I will visit). She is a lovely person, whose demeanor in class and enthusiasm for our very nascent Spanish abilities is perfect to keep us encouraged. 🙂 She’s so excited about class and really engages with us. My grammar teacher, Silvia, originally came from Spain so her Spanish tends to be very clear and proper. She’s equally patient and keen to teach us. They both also are willing to translate into English if it’s really too much for us to figure out. We appreciate the nod to our current lack of knowledge and this definitely helps to keep the classes fun.
We are learning vocabulary, sayings, pronunciation simultaneously. I am drinking from the fire hose this week, but I am loving it so far.
My classes start at 9 AM and end before 1 PM, so I’ve got the rest of the day to do whatever. So far I’ve focused on getting settled (kitchen necessities, finding my way around the neighborhood) and on learning my vocabulary daily, so haven’t really taken advantage of my afternoons (yet). The heat also makes it difficult as it drains your energy. I’ve gotten into the habit of returning home to cook lunch, then settling down to review the day’s lessons (I’ve got a spreadsheet all set up on my IPAD for vocabulary, rules, etc. – not that that will surprise anyone!). The evening is free, and I’ve managed to occupy myself. More on that in future posts. 😉
The kitchen has been an adventure itself. It’s not terribly well-equipped (disappointing, to say the least) but we make do. The stove is gas (woohoo!) but it is not a self-lighting stove. I’m grateful every time I light the stove and do not burn anything. 😉 For me, the most fun is sharing cooking with my housemates. Most are significantly younger (two are just 18 years old, others are in their 20’s)), but most also know how to cook. They are all happy to share food, cooking and cleaning. Just today, I happened to see one of my German housemates outside school, and she asked if I was headed home to cook lunch. I said I was, and planned to stop at the market on the way. She joined me, and we created this lovely, quick and fairly healthy meal (lots of veggies, some rice and a bit of milk) for lunch. Happiness.
The wine, of course, is delightful. There are so many varieties in the stores here! I’m going to have fun trying them all. Pictures of my school are below (don’t hate me!) Yes, it’s an amaizing place to spend my mornings, and only about 15 minute walk from the house. More soon on the rest of my first week. 🙂