I went to the Don Quijote School in Madrid in May and June 2011. It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had! Before I went I had been studying Spanish with Fiona so I did know some Spanish before I went. Most people at the school already knew some Spanish but some people arrive as complete beginners!
As it was my first time away I chose accommodation which included meals and I lived with 14 other people. I had lessons from 3pm–7pm but other people had lessons from 9am–1pm. You have a grammar class and a conversation class. All classes are taught in Spanish, this was a shock at first but after about two weeks you start to understand what they are saying and I think this is a good way to learn as you are listening to it all the time.
The school is in a really good location in Madrid called “Plaza de España”, it’s a 10 minute walk into “Sol” which is where all the shops and bars are. The underground is clean, easy to use and it’s only 1 euro for trips across Madrid!
Madrid is a beautiful city, the people are so friendly. I found it a very sociable place and there are people there from all over the world working or studying Spanish. Food and drinks are quite expensive but shopping is very good and there are good deals everywhere.
If you go on your own it can be scary at first but there is no need to worry as there are so many people in the same situation as yourself. I’m glad I lived with other people as you can form good friendships and socialise together. A popular thing they do in Madrid is a “Botellón” – this is where you meet up with lots of people, which is a good way to make new friends and practice your Spanish!
Going to Spain helped me so much with my Spanish as you speak it all the time in shops when buying clothes or food/drink, the lessons are in Spanish and you meet many Spanish people. You also sit an exam to get a certificate at the end of your stay – a great addition to your CV!
If I could go again, I would go back to Madrid or Salamanca as people that I met in Madrid said how nice Salamanca is and it has a university there so there are many young people. I wouldn’t mind living with people again but I would cook my own food so an apartment may be a better option as you’re a bit more independent. I would choose to have classes in the morning as you have more time to go sightseeing later on.
Overall it was one of the best things I have ever done, my Spanish has improved so much and I have made so many new friends in Spain that I will keep in touch with. I definitely recommend the Don Quijote School and I would say to anyone thinking of going, to just DO IT you will not regret it, the Spanish way of life is beautiful!
By Kristina Best