July 29, 2013, by Matthew Watts


So, I’ve now (already!) completed the first part of my Year Abroad. I spent 3 weeks in Valencia studying Spanish at AIP Languages School and during this time I stayed with a Spanish family in a town called Alboraya, just on the outskirts of Valencia. I thoroughly enjoyed both studying in the school and also staying with the family, with the food being a particular highlight.

My regular day consisted of language classes in the morning and then in the afternoon or evening I usually went on an activity organised by the language school which ranged from: visiting Bioparc[1], a tour of the city centre, volleyball on the beach, going on language exchanges and going out to try Horchata. (Horchata is a tiger-nut based drink which Valencia, and in particular Alboraya, is famous for, it’s hard to explain what it’s like and when you get a glass it just looks like milk, but tastes much better, a must try if you ever go to the city!) In my lessons I learnt lots of Spanish idioms, with estoy en el ajo (I’m in the garlic, or in more normal English: I’m in on it) being a particular favourite of mine, revised grammar points and looked at vocabulary related to geography and sport. I do feel that my Spanish really improved as I hardly spoke in English at all, the classes were completely in Spanish, as were the activities and the family I was staying with didn’t speak any English.

As I mentioned earlier, I loved the food, and in particular the home cooking (cooked by the man of the house, which is odd for Spain!) although it was a bit strange at first getting used to having 5(!) meals a day: el desayuno (breakfast), el almuerzo (mid-morning snack), la comida (lunch), la merienda (afternoon-tea), la cena (dinner). It was also strange getting used to eating dinner at 10pm in the evening although I adapted more readily to the mid-afternoon siesta! I also enjoyed the relaxed and informal lifestyle as well, with 2 kisses being the common way of greeting someone and getting told by my teacher and family that I was too formal by using usted and ustedes. It also took a while for me to get used to hearing Spaniards using hombre with everyone, even with women, as I had never encountered it before but it’s simply a way of greeting someone.

I had an amazing time in Valencia and didn’t want to board the plane to come back to England! I’d thoroughly recommend visiting the city as it is a wonderful place. I’m currently working on summer schools at UoN but will be off to Madrid on Friday to start teaching English to adults. I’m excited and can’t wait to go back to Spain!

¡Hasta luego!

Matt Watts

[1] Bioparc is like West Midlands Safari Park, you go along and see animals from Africa and there are no barriers, apart from with the large predators. (See http://www.bioparcvalencia.es/en/ for more information)

Posted in Language acquisition