After my first day of Spanish classes in Guanajuato, Mexico I was high as I kite. It was confirmation that joy is available to us all when we make the choice to follow our hearts and live life as we so choose. Sigue sus suenos! Chase those dreams. It’s never too late.
I’ve always wanted to learn to speak other languages. I was finally motivated when I fell in love with Salsa music 13 years ago and learning Spanish became a stronger desire. I started with a continuing education class and had a great teacher. I enjoyed her classes because she taught through the use of juegos (games) and dibujos (drawings) like we were in kindergarten. She took some liberties with the Spanish language and invented the prefix Sena as in Ms., as there is no equivalent to Ms. with the Spanish language. As far as I know it hasn’t made a wave into Latin America just yet.
I want to continue to travel in Spanish-speaking countries and habla con mis compadres. I want to be able to get to know people and not be an outsider. It’s a high goal as no matter where I go I still will be a foreigner – extranjera – gringa but I can still try.
Side note–there is a taco place in San Miguel del Allende that was near my hostel and was selling “gringas”. After walking by several times I finally asked what was a “gringa”? It’s a corn tortilla with carne and queso on it and another corn tortilla on top. White on the outside? It’s kind of like a quesadilla but not folded. One of the many versions of the same comida. I was glad I asked because I made some new friends. The vendedor was from Los Angeles and the heffe had previously lived in Santa Rosa, California.
I spent two weeks with La Escuela Mexicana in Guanajuato, Mexico and it was great! I chose this area because I was familiar with Guanajuato and San Miguel del Allende (1.5 hr bus ride from Guanajuato) from friends and family. I flew to Leon which is close to Guanajuato and easy to get to from major airports in the states. I went to Guanajuato during their biggest festival of the year called Cevantino. Inspired by Cervantes, the festival lasts much of the month of October and has concerts, operas, ballets and street artists from all over the world.
Going to Guanajuato during Cervantino seemed like a good idea at first but it became difficult with lodging. Hostels were almost entirely already booked on the weekends. I would recommend if you want to go Guanajuato during Cervantino definitely plan ahead.
I really appreciated La Escuela Mexicana on a variety of levels. They are flexible and can accommodate people who are traveling. I went at nine o’clock on a Tuesday morning and started class at eleven. They also have students who study with them for months at a time.
I also appreciated that they “get right to it”. That there wasn’t a lot of fanfare. I tried to translate this to my host family but I couldn’t find a way. I ended up saying that they were–bien and that’s about as far as I got. Her patience was appreciated. I liked all the teachers but especially Genaro because of his calm and slow speaking style was easy to understand.
Since my time learning Spanish in Seattle I had also taken two semesters of college Spanish in Berkeley. Both ways have their value but so for me learning Spanish abroad has been more enjoyable, less stressful and you get opportunities to practice at every moment. It is a great way to meet other travelers and it gives you a context in which to speak your new words with.
Yesterday I received my “diploma” at Escuela Mexicana but I still have a long way to go. I have a new-found respect for learning languages. I think my accent or pronunciation is decent but I wonder if I will ever learn all the verb conjugaciones. Espero que aprendere todo!
Muchas palabras, no mucho tiempo!
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