So, if you are interested in learning Spanish, in experiencing Colombian culture like a local, and exploring the beautiful natural landscapes, Spanish Adventure is the place for you. But what exactly does a week at Spanish Adventure look like? Well, every week is different, but I will try to sum up the magic here.
Classes and Workshops
As a student at Spanish Adventure, you take Spanish classes every day. On Monday, you start with a workshop about one topic, for example when to use the verbs “ser” vs “estar.” Every week, you will attend a workshop about a different topic. These workshops are a great way to start the week, as they set the foundation for other skills you will be learning throughout the week. On Tuesdays through Fridays, you will take 2 hours of classroom instruction each day. These classes are intense, but provide a lot of great practice. The lessons are often hilarious, personal, and deep. During my 3 weeks here, I have learned a lot about my teachers and the other students in my class through sharing stories about our life experiences. You really get close with the teachers and students in your class because you share so much with each other. I would say that some of my best and deepest conversations have taken place in class, and again - all in Spanish! It’s pretty incredible how much you start to think in Spanish after 2 intensive hours of class.
If you sign up for 3 hours of class per day, your last hour will be a private conversational practice with one of the staff members. You will walk (or ride) around town, grab a coffee or a pastry, and practice what you learned in class that day. Again, these practices can be pretty amazing. They are very helpful to review what you learned in class, but to me the practices were even more special. You really get close to your partner and have an opportunity to learn so much about your partners life. We talk about family, about how we were as kids, and about our professions. I’ve shared my hopes and dreams, my insecurities, and even my thoughts about how to live a full life. I have had 2 different practice partners and after one week with each of them, I feel like I can call them good friends.
Adventures and Cultural Events
Apart from the Spanish classes, maybe you are drawn to Spanish Adventure because of the ADVENTURES! At Spanish Adventure, we have one adventure every day. San Carlos is a small town situated in the middle of several mountains. From the school, you can look 360 degrees and find lush, green mountains. There are also countless rivers and waterfalls within a 15-25 minute walk from the school. Adventures include adrenaline-pumping activities such as canyoning, rafting, or jumping from waterfalls, and sometimes also include cultural activities such as joining aerobic classes with local women or learning to play the typical Colombian pastime, Tejo. Every Saturday, there is a big adventure that takes up most of the day. We have hiked a nearby mountain, taken boats to hidden waterfalls, and gone camping during my stay here. The staff do an excellent job finding new and exciting adventures, so that every student experiences something new each week. No matter the adventure, it is always a blast getting out of the school, exploring the area around San Carlos, and getting to practice your Spanish with the staff and other students. The adventures are some of the most special times of the Spanish Adventure Experience.
Some of you may be English-speaking students wanting to learn Spanish, and some of you may also want to use your native English skills to teach locals. The locals in San Carlos are incredibly eager to learn the language that most of its visitors speak. During my time in San Carlos, there were several English classes each week, of various levels. Some classes are beginners who dream to one day travel to the USA or Europe, others are men and women working in the tourist industry; some classes are for the school staff to improve their English abilities, and some classes are with local children. No matter the group or the level, the students are all passionate, excited, and eager to learn English. Every class was filled with laughs and I made such good memories with these groups. I would often run into my students around town, which made me feel like I was actually a part of something bigger during my travels. Teaching English in San Carlos was definitely one of my favorite experiences here.
Life in San Carlos
Between taking Spanish classes, going on daily adventures, possibly teaching English, and of course doing your Spanish homework, your days end up pretty busy at Spanish Adventure. Nevertheless, you can always find your own pace of life in San Carlos. The rivers and waterfalls are close enough for you to walk to on your own, go for a mid-day swim, or go to practice yoga. There is a beautiful running track where you can exercise in the morning amongst the birdsongs. You can easily go to the gym, pick up a game of football with locals, or join in aerobic classes with the seniors. Additionally, you will quickly become familiar with the shop owners around town, and will soon have your favorite place for empanadas, arepas, juices, and ice cream. Many of us at Spanish Adventure have absolutely no trouble finding ways to stay busy around town.
So, maybe you have been traveling for a while and are feeling burnt out of being on the move constantly. Maybe you are just starting your adventure in South America and want to practice, improve, or begin learning Spanish. Maybe you have some skills (teaching English, art, home improvement, etc.) and are looking to use those skills while traveling abroad. Or maybe you just want to dive into Colombian culture and nature in one of the best hidden gems in the country. No matter how you got yourself here, clearly there is some intrigue in learning Spanish and experiencing traveling in a different way. If any of this sounds interesting to you - Spanish Adventure is a no-brainer!