Explore
Questions/Comments?Contact Us

35 posts categorized "*Traveling around Spain"

20 Differences: Spain vs. Latin American Spanish

A Petite Traveler

When I first moved to Madrid, Spain at the beginning of August 2017, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the country, and also by all the cultural differences, especially in the language. I learned Latin American and Mexican Spanish growing up in the United States. Here in Spain, I've learned European Spanish from my host family stay and from Tandem: a prestigious language learning school in Madrid. I'm still learning from my private Spanish classes, my intercambio partner who is a native European Spanish speaker, and from living in Spain! I've rounded up 20 differences in verbs, expressions, and what things are called here for your leisure. Of course, I do not offer an exhaustive list and I will continue to add to it! Please leave comments or follow me on Instagram @APetiteTraveler if you have any questions or comments!

(All of my photos are purchased and licensed through Adobe Stock, except the one of me above, that's just a selfie! Haha.)

 

1. Vosotros

In the majority of American schools, our Spanish teachers skip this form and we only use "yo", "tú", "él/ella", "nosotros", and "ustedes/ellos/ellas". This is because they only use the vosotros form in Spain and there are over 20 other Spanish-speaking countries. Sorry, Spain! So if you're like me and you're immersed in Spain Spanish or otherwise called "Castilian" or Castellano, it sounds like a different language apart from Spanish!

For example: "¿Como estáis, chicas?" This means, "How are you?"--to 2 or more girls/women or even more basically: "How are ya'll?"

2. Vale.

In Spain, this word means "okay" or "alright". It is used in almost every sentence, everywhere, by EVERYONE! Once you start using "vale" you're on your way to assimilating into Spanish culture. 

3. ¡Qué guay!

This translates to "cool" or "awesome" or "amazing! This word is very highly used from children, to teenagers, to young adults, and to 30 to 40 somethings. 

4. Zumo

Juice. NO ONE says "jugo", no one...unless they're not from Spain... 

5. Conducir

This is the verb for "to drive". You may have learned "manejar". In Spain, everyone uses the word conducir.

6. Coger

I know, I know!  This is something Rated R in most Spanish-speaking countries, however, in Spain, this means "to take" (transportation or an object). For example, "Voy a coger un taxi." I'm going to take a taxi. 

7. Coche

This is the word for "car". You might have learned, or use the word, "carro". If you say carro, half the time they'll probably know what you're referring to, but everyone says coche here. 

8. ¡Genial!

Literally it means, "great!" You'll also hear this ALL the time! It's almost like "awesome!" For example, "Oh, I found an extra bottle of wine for the party!" You can respond, "¡Genial!"

9. Ahora Mismo

If you say, "ahorita" (translates to "right now"in Spain, you'll get some funny looks. They know what you're talking about; but it's more common to say "ahora mismo". It means "right now" or "this very minute" but it also can mean "in a couple minutes" or something you're about to do next!

10. Móvil

It's the word commonly used for "cell phone" vs. "celular".

11. Sobremesa

In Spain, we eat dinner around 9:00-10:00pm (21:00-22:00 Spain time). Late late late into the night, after dinner is over you'll find the Spanish still talking at the same table with friends, lovers and family. This time spent after dinner still talking at the table is referred to as "sobremesa". You don't actually use it in speech like, "let's go sobremesa", no! But just know there is actually a name for it! I love this culture...take your time and enjoy life!

12. No Pasa Nada.

You will hear this A LOT in Spain. It basically means "don't worry".

If you're taking too long at the grocery store to grab your card to pay at the cash register and you say, "Sorry! Just need to grab my card..." the cashier will probably say "No pasa nada". Literally this phrase is thrown out daily!

13. ¡Hombre!

This is literally just like saying "MAN!" or "Oh man (I forgot something)" in American English. Or like "what the heck!" This is usually said in excitement or exasperation. 

13. ¡Venga!

This basically means, "come on!" and can be said seductively all the way to angrily. It can mean "hurry up", or "let's go!" It can be said when an irritated dad is rushing a very slow 5-year old. You'll hear this a lot!

15. Puente

This word translate to "bridge" but in Spain it also refers to a long holiday break from work or school (like a 3-6 day weekend due to a holiday like Christmas or Semana Santa.) 

16. Ordenador

The word commonly used for "computer" or "laptop". In Spanish class in the U.S., you probably learned, "computadora". 

17. ¡Qué chungo! 

This word is a little versatile. Children and adults say it to mean "creepy" or "problematic". In this way it means "how creepy! or "how problematic!"

However if you were to say, as my private Spanish teacher said, "¡Ten cuidado! Ella parece una chica chunga." You're saying, "Be careful! She looks problematic", or like someone rough-looking that you shouldn't associate yourself with.

You can also say: "Estoy chungo/a" to mean something just doesn't feel right, or you don't feel well but you just don't know what it is.

18. Patata!

In Spain, instead of saying "cheeeese!" when someone takes a picture, you say "patataaaa!"

19. Cortado 

When you go into a café or one of the many delicious bakeries in Spain, you wouldn't say you want an espresso with milk, you have to say "¡Quiero un cortado, por fa!" They'll instantly know you mean you want an espresso with milk. Trust me, after 10+ cafes saying it wrong, my life is so much easier now!

20. "¡Ching ching!"

This is how you say, "Cheers!" in Madrid, Spain. It's also pretty widely used in other languages in other European countries--same sound but different spelling!

And there you have it! I'll be sure to add to this list as I learn more words!

xx,

Kamalía

Barcelona on a Budget!

PArk Guell

Barcelona, Spain is an incredible city that you absolutely HAVE to see for yourself. You've probably heard of the famous Sagrada Familia, the beautiful Park Güell, and the epic market La Boqueria: The Mercat de Sant Josep. Travel can be quite expensive; but to be a savvy traveler, all you need is to do a little research and set a budget before going. I stayed in Barcelona with my fiancé for 3 days and 2 nights and we only spent 100 euro/per person. You could easily spend 300 euros per person in Barcelona, trust me! 

Unnamed

In those 3 days, we explored the city by foot (free), bicycle (6€ for 2 hours), metro (4,50€ 1 trip), and bus (6€ airport bus)! We stayed at the Atlantis Hotel where we took advantage of the free and filling breakfast. When you go, spend a couple hours exploring and going into shops at Plaça de Catalunya, walking around and taking in the sights and landmarks like Arc de Triomf (above). We spent time strolling through La Boqueria and couldn't help but taste some of the delicacies (fresh oysters, fresh Yakisoba noodles) and of course savored some interesting yet tasty chocolates. Bring some euros with you because the minimums for credit/debit card are horrendous and force you to spend money! For example, chocolates can be anywhere from .50-5€, they also had oysters ranging from 3-9€ each, the minimums can be 10-20€. Food in Barcelona is super affordable with restaurants offering lots of deals and meals being anywhere from 2-12€! 

La boqueria

We didn't end up going inside La Sagrada Familia since there was a lot of construction and the line was longer than a new Disneyland ride line (2 hours + wait) but it was wonderful to just SEE it! 

Unnamed-2

There are tons of really cool shops and restaurants near the Sagrada Familia; you can easily take the metro there as they have a stop that's literally called La Sagrada Familia, haha. You can buy tickets to La Sagrada Familia here!

Park Güell is also budget-friendly and you have to see it as well!  The picture of my fiancé and I above is taken at Park Güell. It's wise to purchase your ticket online (9€/per person) to enter this part of the park. You definitely want to see it! You can order tickets online here

Unnamed-1

A list of free places to see (can fill 2-3 days):

  • Park Güell (the top half)
  • La Boqueria
  • Gothic Quarter (filled with tons of amazing architecture, narrow pathways, cheap bars and restaurants to grab lunch or dinner)
  • Plaça de Catalunya 
  • Walk along the beach, port
  • The Arc de Triomf (pictured above)

I could write so much more! Any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out on Instagram @APetiteTraveler or leave a comment below!

 

xx,

Kamalía

 

 

 

Exploring the Country

Every weekend we have a three day weekend and what better way to spend the extra day off than traveling. Some times just a day trip will suffice, and some times you can take your long weekends to travel further.  Even if the weather is awful, it is still good enough to travel. The best part about exploring is being at the top of the city and looking out at the whole city center as if you were in a movie.

 

Photo- Salamanca 22728796_1867405686633171_7708892017542006050_n

SEVILLA: NO8DO, You Have Not Abandoned Me

Sevilla's official motto is NO8DO, No Me Ha Dejado, which means "[Sevilla] has not abandoned me, and I finally have a complete understanding of what this means. This past weekend, I decided to go back to the place I studied abroad for the first time in three years. (I went through CIEE too!) In fact, it had been 1056 days since I left Sevilla, but it felt as if it I still lived there. To be honest, I was worried about going back since my friend, Rhea, went back about a year and half ago and said it was so different. What if I went back and nothing was the same? What if all my favorite spots were gone? What if visiting would somehow taint my favorite experience, my favorite place? Rest assured, none of the above happened, and I truly discovered that Sevilla did not abandon me. A part of it has been with me ever since I left: always with my thoughts, my worries, my happiness, my thinking. Everything. Even if I didn't realize it. It has shaped so much of who I am today and just like living there was an unforgettable experience, going back for the first time was just as special. 

 

As soon as the bus pulled up, I knew I was in for a weekend of a lifetime. Memories I hadn't thought about in three years came flooding back. I recognized the place where we bought churros the first time we went out and wanted some munchies. I remembered the time Nicole and I took an afternoon to walk around Triana; the time after class we climbed the Torre del Oro; the time at the sangria place where we booked our first trip to Rome and Paris while eating doritos from "the Boxes" or what we would call, the vending machines.

 

 
IMG_2866_edited
 
 
DSC_0892
 
 
DSC_0903
 
 
DSC_0926
 
 I'll never forget when I saw Plaza de España for the first time, I cried because of how beautiful it was and this time, I cried because it was even more beautiful than I remembered.

 

To put it simply, I have never felt a more overwhelming joy — I still knew the 45 minute walk from my university to my home through the windy streets. I recognized the jazz bar my friends and I went to that one time and all my favorite spots (my favorite restaurant, bar, kebab place). They were all untouched. Restaurants I would walk past were ones I had been to once or twice. I felt like I could pinpoint every moment, every memory. 

 

My favorite memory this weekend was visiting my host family. I had texted my host mom, Manuela, a week before coming explaining that I was living in Madrid and coming to visit and would love nothing more than to see her. I never got a text back, so I decided to bring some flowers and show up, knowing she didn't leave the house very often. After feeling extremely emotional making the walk from the plaza to my house, I rang the doorbell and opened the door to the tightest hug and Manuela's standard three kisses on the cheek. To think I was worried she wouldn't remember me! How silly of me because she remembered me AND my cute sombreros that I would always wear. My travel hats live on!

 

I spent the next hour and a half catching up with her and her new three-month-old granddaughter, Alegría (who is absolutely adorable). Later on, her daughter, Carmen and son, Pepe came over with the other grandkids, Manuela and Luis who were five and few months respectively when I lived here. It was crazy to see how much they have grown! Since they speak absolutely no English, my Spanish was pouring out of the mouth like I've lived here for three years. I was very impressed with myself to be honest. Manuela asked when my parents are coming back to visit since they got to meet each other last time, and this was one of my favorite memories of study abroad. Coming back and spending time with them was an experience so near and dear to my heart. Manuela kept trying to feed me, offered me my old bed to stay and packed me a Bocadillo for the road. Nothing had changed. I promised I would be back soon.

I can't explain the magic that is Sevilla. It's a charming, quintessential Spanish city that is so rich in culture and beauty. If you know, you know. From walks along the river to visiting the cathedral, no wonder it's Lonely Planet's #1 place to travel to in 2018. It's been mine since 2014. I plan on giving my top recommendations for Sevilla in another post but wanted to put my weekend into words first. Sevilla, you are one-of-a-kind. 

A Festival-Filled Long Weekend: Continued

My stomach was rumbling, my legs were cramped, and I felt sore from sitting in one position on the bus for the four hours it took to drive from Madrid to Zaragoza. But all that discomfort instantly dissolved as we turned the corner and I caught my first glimpse of the magnificent Basílica del Pilar, with its colorfully-tiled dome tops and looming bell towers. I gasped aloud, along with most of the people on the bus, and my heart starting pumping with excitement for the day ahead.

IMG_0580

We were herded off the bus, handed tourist maps, and set free to roam the city to our heart’s content. My friend and I immediately made it our mission to visit as many of the historic landmarks as we could. Lucky for us, they’re all pretty much located on one quadrant of the city, starting at the Basílica. As we walked, we passed something old and beautiful nearly every couple of minutes, and squealed in awe every time.

Then, for just five euros (student discount), we could tour the museums of Zaragoza’s ancient theatre, public baths, forum, and river port - remnants of the city’s Roman origins. At the theatre museum, I was utterly fascinated to learn that the ruins had been so buried underground that no one had realized they even existed until 1972. I stood there, surrounded by the crumbling benches, and closed my eyes, trying to imagine the once magnificent, three-story theatre. I could picture Romans filling the rows, laughing and reacting together to the performance before them. What a sight it must have been.

IMG_0608

Suddenly, the upbeat sounds of a marching band interrupted my nostalgic thoughts and I was brought back to the present, to modern-day Zaragoza. The music was wafting down from the streets above, signaling that a parade was passing by. My friend and I decided to join in the festivities and hurried out of the museum to fall in line with the crowds of people dancing and marching down the street. Many were dressed head to toe in a bright royal blue color, with scarfs that had the word “Zaragoza” printed in crisp, white print. Many also carried bottles of wine with glasses, taking advantage of the fact that during the festival it is legal to serve and consume alcoholic beverages on the streets.

We then made our way to the riverfront, where countless artisans had set up stalls to sell their homemade goods and food. We passed a giant shrine of flowers made to honor saint Pilar, and a stage where local artists played their sets throughout the day and night. Spontaneous traditional dancing filled the streets - the kind that makes you wish you knew the steps so you could jump in. And, of course, fireworks went off at night to celebrate the end of the festival.

IMG_0615

By the time my friend and I re-boarded our bus at 2:30 in the morning, we were dizzy from the whirlwind adventures of the day. As I dragged my extremely exhausted body back home from the bus stop at 6:30 in the morning, head pounding and feet aching, I couldn’t help but feel grateful. Grateful to be here, living in Spain, and having the opportunity to experience magical days like the Festival del Pilar, and hopefully many more come!

IMG_0624

Wanderlust

The most amazing part of traveling is exploring and finding yourself. The best part of getting lost is not always knowing where you are going.

Remind yourself, it is okay to wander.

It is okay to not have a plan, to take each day moment by moment and just appreciate the now. 

Spur of the moment, I bought a bus ticket to Nerja for a long weekend. An eight hour bus ride later, I was standing on the sand of a beautiful beach, looking out across the Mediterranean Sea. The African continent lay just across that beautiful stretch of blue.

And that was mind blowing.

Staying at home, safe in our bubbles, we forget how large and how grand the world is. There is more out there than the web that we create. Even as I become more comfortable in Madrid, and create a network between my piso, my school, the metro lines I take everyday and the markets that I visit frequently, I have to remind myself to stop, and to look around. To appreciate the magnificent city that I live in.

I also have to remind myself to keep going, and to keep pushing the limits. To be safe and secure is to fall into idle fantasies. Safety nets only make us complicit. 

I want to keep exploring, keep pushing the limits, and see where I can go.

22310424_10215050242156181_4424851351415915484_n
Maybe, just maybe, that is how the original explorers felt, standing on the edge of the Mediterranean and looking out, wondering what is out there. Maybe we aren't so different than the famed Ferdinand Magellan, Christopher Colmbus, or Amerigo Vespucci. 

During my time in Spain I have already realized that comfort is overrated, and only when pushed to new limits can we expand our minds.

I think I will go further, and push into Africa next. Morocco, anyone?

Top 10 FREE MUST-HAVE Mobile Apps in Spain and the World!

Top 10 Mobile apps

Apps are an integral part of our lives; we use them DAILY. Below is a top ten non-exhaustive list of the apps I use to enjoy Spain and the world in order of HOW often I use them.

Navigating Europe has been so much easier for me with these apps; I wanted to share them to help make your life easier too!

 

Photo

WhatsApp - (GLOBAL) This app is EVERYTHING. It is your communication to ANYONE, ANYWHERE around the world. You can text, call, video call, send pictures, and videos all for FREE as long as you have data or WiFi. You NEED this, if you don't have it, DOWNLOAD IT NOW. Tell your family and friends to download WhatsApp to communicate with you for free.

UnnamedGoogle Maps (GLOBAL) Google Maps is extremely reliable when navigating the streets of Madrid, and other major cities and countries. It also gives you accurate wait times for metros and factors this into your travel time. It gives you multiple train line options as well. Literally, I use this app every single day to calculate fastest routes, best routes, look up how far airports are in different countries, map out multiple destinations for a day and to get home!

Unnamed-1

SkyScanner - (GLOBAL) I have a method when it comes to buying cheap European/African flights. First I go to Google Flights because you can see a calendar of low fares and it's easier to determine WHEN you should fly and for how long. I use SkyScanner second. It's a nifty app to have because it searches for the best bang for your buck, shortest and cheapest flights. I always use both in tandem to locate the cheapest and shortest flight.

Unnamed-2TransferWise (GLOBAL) This is a LIFE-SAVER app that I used to cheaply transfer money between my American bank account to my Spanish bank account. Seriously, transferring money is SUPER easy with this app. The exchange rate for amounts up to 100 euros is typically only $3.00 when most banks charge $30-50.00. I will also be using it to transfer euros to USD when my American bank accounts start to run low (I'm still paying for my car and student loans...).

Unnamed-3

TripAdvisor (GLOBAL) I LOVE to use Trip Advisor to find top restaurants and THINGS TO DO! You can just walk around a new city and find new things, but with Trip Advisor, you can get insider opinions on wait times, what hotels REALLY look like, tips on how to make the most of your time and more. You can use it ALL over the world to see what are the most popular attractions, parks, museums and things to do! I use it almost religiously to plan trips locally and abroad.

Unnamed-4DuoLingo - (GLOBAL) FREE language learning app, why not!? You'll find that a lot of travelers have this app. It's very easy and fun to use and you can learn multiple languages on different accounts in your app. For example, I'm going to Rome, Italy and Amsterdam very soon so I have accounts for Spanish, Dutch and Italian, all seamlessly switchable and holds your place. For more tools to learn languages, check out my other blog on language learning tips.

175x175bb

El Tenedor (The Fork) - (GLOBAL) Spanish people LOVE this app. Yelp is super popular in the U.S. Trust me, I didn't eat at a new restaurant unless it had AT LEAST 4 stars on Yelp, and I used the pictures uploaded to help me order. Yelp isn't very popular here and you won't find many reviews. But you can reserve restaurants, see reviews and find top restaurants as you would with Yelp.

Unnamed-5myTaxiThis is what it sounds like, a Taxi app. There are TONS of taxis in Madrid, and major cities, TONS. But sometimes you want to schedule someone to just pick you up for the airport at 4am or schedule a 5-seater van for a trip on the weekend. Or maybe you're pre-gaming and need someone to grab you and your friends in 30 minutes or now and you don't have time to head to the streets and flag someone down.

Unnamed-6

GoEuro - (EUROPE) GoEuro is a convenient transportation app that shows you logistics such as fastest travel time, best way to travel and different prices. For example, on our day trip to Segovia, it suggested: flight, Taxi, Uber, BlaBlaCar and Renfe pricing with travel time included. Our best option ended up being the Renfe because it provided the best travel times. It's almost like a travel companion with the answers for, "How should I get there?"

Unnamed-7

Bla Bla Car - (EUROPE) This is a VERY popular and CHEAP way to travel around Spain. Bla Bla Car is literally a carpooling system where you put the date of travel, and location and it searches for users who just happen to be traveling to your destination on those dates.  I have SEARCHED for trips on Bla Bla Car; but I have not yet actually booked through Bla Bla Car but my friends who have used it enjoyed it and are still using it for CHEAP travel!

Don't forget to leave me some love or questions and comments below--for more travel tips contact me on Instagram: @kamtheadventuress, I'd love to hear your opinions and travel stories!

xx,

Kamalía

A Day in Toledo, Spain

 

DSC00537

If you’re wondering which cities are a MUST-SEE day trip in Spain, wonder no more, you HAVE to spend a day in historical and breathtaking Toledo. We spent the entire day here for only 40€! The city is packed with delicious restaurants with 3-course meals for only 10€, tasty Marzipan and other
DSC00583homemade edible treasures. The narrow streets hold pathways begging to be explored and photographed. Stores overflow with archaic swords, armor, gold and metal knick-knacks and pretty fabrics to wear.

DSC00631

We travelled there with a super organized and fun travel company by the name of City Life. They coordinated our transportation, activities and showed us the best spots for photos for only 22€! The bus ride was about an hour there from Madrid's Moncloa stop. We even went zip lining across a river for only 8€; and it came with a sick professional photo! You can also book your travel through Renfe, download the super handy FREE mobile app we used to book cheap train tickets called "Go Euro!" (We used this to book our trip to Segovia, Spain roundtrip only 13€!)

DSC00599Every building was deeply detailed, adeptly chiseled to engrave belief and faith into art and to allow the ancient stories to unfold. The deeply rooted history of the people and cultures of Muslim, Judaism and Christianity come together to create a city filled with incredible architecture and traditions outlasting centuries. 

DSC00585

At the city plaza, you'll find Western influence, such as a McDonalds (let's face it, McDonalds is everywhere), but the city has managed to hold on to its archaic and beautiful treasures. It's so romantic to walk around with your significant other, we even walked into a wedding celebration! Though it's perfect to explore with friends and family too. You don't have to travel far for picturesque sights. 

DSC00616

The food was incredible, along with the service! As I mentioned, it was only 10€! We started with a drink, then you choose a first dish, a second dish and then a dessert. I asked for a glass of wine because it seemed the fanciest, and they gave me my own bottle of wine! My first dish was my first taste of paella, a traditional must-try Spanish dish. My second dish was a steak and french fries (patatas fritas) and I ended it with a tasty tiramisu cake. Perfecto!

You must see Toledo for yourself!

xx,

Kamalía

 

 

A Festival-Filled Long Weekend

Hypothetical question: what would you do if someone were to tell you that you’re about to have a five day weekend?

That was a question I got to ask myself in reality when the bilingual coordinator at my school handed me my class schedule and holiday calendar and I realized that I had five days off the following weekend.

My mind began racing with the possibilities of places I could visit - beaches, mountains, even other countries. After a couple hours of research, I ultimately decided to capitalize on one of the best parts of living in a country like Spain - festivals!

I was lucky enough to be able to make it to the last day of Semana Cervantina in Alcalá de Henares as well as the last day of Festival Pilar in Zaragoza.

First up:

Semana Cervantina

Alcalá de Henares is a quaint little town that lies about forty minutes to the north-east of Madrid (cercanías lines C-2 and C-7). It is the birthplace of famous Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, whose house is still intact and can be toured for free!

Cervantes is best known for his work Don Quijote de la Mancha. For those that haven’t heard of it, here is my very humble and very simplified summary: a man who has a bit of an obsession with books about knights and chivalry wakes up one morning and declares himself a knight named Don Quijote. Don Quijote then convinces a farmer named Sancho to be his squire, and the pair set off on a string of haphazard adventures, including fighting “giants” (read: windmills) and rescuing “damsels” (read: loose women).

IMG_0533

Naturally, Spain loves a good Don Quijote reference, and Alcalá de Henares is the motherland of paying homage to this fictional character and his creator. As a literature nerd who has taken an entire class on the novel, I was perhaps a little too excited to attend an entire festival dedicated to Cervantes.

And let me tell you, Semana Cervantina did not disappoint. Mere minutes after leaving the train station I stumbled upon the “Mercado Cervantino” in Plaza de Cervantes, where artisan stalls lined the streets selling trinkets, clothing, jewelry, pastries, and locally produced cheese and jamón. Medieval style flags were strung up in the air above the streets, which were bustling with people, many of whom wore medieval costumes. Children ran about and squealed with delight as the carnival rides spun them around and around. The atmosphere positively buzzed with energy and spirit.

IMG_0566

But the best had yet to come. Just as I was getting ready to head back to Madrid, I heard music coming from down the street and noticed a herd of people gathering. I approached the melodious sounds and pushed through the crowd of people until I came face to face with Don Quijote himself - shield and spear in hand - riding his white steed, and Sancho Panza - flask in hand - riding his donkey. The characters were parading the streets, accompanied by musicians and two men holding a live snake and eagle. I nearly burst out laughing at the sight and couldn’t help but admire their level of dedication.

Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 8.13.16 PM

All in all, an amazing day! Stay tuned for a follow-up post about the Pilar Festival in Zaragoza!

Becoming Fluent in Spanish

Hey friends!

It has literally been 167 days, 10 hours, 37 minutes and 11 seconds since my last blog post; but I promise to post weekly! I'm aiming for every Saturday or Sunday. 

I've been living in Madrid, Spain for EXACTLY 2 months now and I'm in love with this country, the language of Spanish, the food, the sights, the sounds, the metro, and I'm still exploring and learning new things every single day. I'm writing today about the journey to becoming fluent in Spanish. A little about me, I studied Spanish for a semester in 6th grade, 2 years in high school and then completed Spanish 201 and 202 at the university level about 8 years ago. 

I've been told by multiple sources that it takes about 6 months of living in Spain to obtain fluency. I have 4 months left! Of course, you can't really put a timetable, but I find it interesting and I accept this challenge. I enrolled in the 4-week immersion program because in the program we take 4 weeks of classes through the prestigious Tandem language school. My Spanish grammar and verbal skills have definitely increased, but what is most important is my confidence speaking as well.

There are multiple ways to learn Spanish when you get here, through multiple avenues and companies.

I have two lists below that will mention paid and free options, respectively:

1.) Enroll at Tandem, or another language school (pricing depends)

2.) Take private classes through a Spanish instructor through an embassy or school (pricing depends)

3.) Rosetta Stone Spanish (pricing depends, may be deals, you can buy online or at a bookstore; this is a language-learning software that you can download on your phone or PC/Mac; I love it, but I prefer interacting with people)

4.) Read books in Spanish! We learned a lot of English from books, try purchasing or borrowing a book at your level in Spanish. Look up the words you don't know, pay attention to the order of words and the grammar. I'm currently reading El Principito by Antonie de Saint-Exupéry. You can find books in local papelerias, street shops, and stores like FNAC, Casa del Libro and the huge mall Corte Ingles. 

For free/gratis:

1.) Intercambios! Intercambio is basically a term for language exchange between you and a partner. For example, my intercambio partner is a Madrileña who is fluent in Spanish and wants to learn English. We were assigned through TANDEM, however you can easily find intercambios anywhere! Programs like City Life offer bar/restaurant events on Facebook where you can meet up with other people/students/teachers/auxiliares looking to become fluent in languages like German, French, Spanish and English! My intercambio and communicate through the app WhatsApp and take turns picking a quiet bar or cafe to meet up and speak Spanish and English.

We meet at a designated time, and for 45 minutes we speak about anything and everything in English and then we switch to Spanish and speak for another 45 minutes. It depends how long you want to hang out, but this was the perfect time for us. I've heard of 1 hour in each language and 30 minutes in each language from other auxiliares. We correct each other's grammar where necessary, talk about cultural differences, different phrases, teach each other new words and all while eating dinner or drinking wine!

2.) Duo-Lingo this is a fun free app great for learning Spanish and also has a lot of other language options like Portuguese, German, French and Italian! It's great for building vocabulary and also engages you to speak, read and type.

3.) Practice! When you go into restaurants, malls, bookstores, convenient stores, ANYWHERE, use as much Spanish as you know! Speak to friends or family members who are fluent, the more you speak, the better you will get!

4.) Spanish flatmates. Room with Spanish people, talk to them in Spanish, and listening also goes a long way! I personally have not had Spanish flatmates, but my friends who do find this an essential experience for speaking. Living with a host mom certainly forced me to learn fast!

5.) Watch films/shows in Spanish!  Re-binge watch your favorite shows on Netflix in Spanish! (yes it works in Spain!) Watch disney movies in Spanish, or any movie you can in Spanish. This will help with pronunciation, listening skills in general, and also written Spanish if you're watching shows captioned in Spanish. You'll notice that Netflix Spain captions are specific to Spain Spanish. For example, the vosotros form and "Vale!" is used! :)

9e9f313bff413a8e42b6a8c8fe8c70e9

6.) Listen to Music in Spanish. You probably already listen to music in Spanish or have heard it or maybe you LOVE it! Try listening to more Spanish music and listen to words and sentences in the songs, try to understand what the words and phrases mean. Maybe translate them in your free time (not on google!) 

I will keep adding to this list the more I explore and learn. 

Hasta luego! 

xx, xx

Kamalía

Keep Me Updated