Before I start I’d like to mention that during this trip I had a serious case of back-to-school-brain. Consequently, instead of being in ‘holiday mode’, when I normally snap away and note down every minute detail, I was more concerned with making sure I had a healthy array of glitter-gel pens in my pencil case (and, of course, learning reams of Spanish vocab). With that in mind, here goes the overall lowdown of my time studying Español in Bogotá, Colombia.
Spanish you say? ¿Hablas español? Well.. If you read my 2016 resolutions post you may have noticed it’s in there (number 3 on the list to be precise). Si si, I wanna learn it. Ok I’ll stop with the frivolous Spanish chat now.
Bogotá – the decision to study here came about because, 1 – my BF and I wanted to see South America and, 2 – our Spanish teacher told us Colombians speak great Spanish (whatever that means). If you’re considering a similar trip to learn the language and fancy the Americas I hear Mexico, Costa Rica and Guatemala are gringo-friendly and speak a more nuetral Spanish. Yet Argentina and Chile seem to be the no go zones, the dialects are just too confusing for our duo-lingo-listening-ears (but don’t quote me on that).
We stayed in Chapinero (Zona G) at Nico Apartments 10 minutes walking distance from the school, Nueva Lengua. The apartment was perfect. I mean, don’t be expecting Hermes bath oil, (or sound proof windows for that matter) but do expect an exceptionally clean and spacious room, with a great sized and comfy bed, a contemporary bathroom and -the key to every vegans heart- a kitchenette. The service was top-notch too.
There’s a distinctive vibe going down in this area (put Carrera 5, Calle 69a in your map app). There’s a fair few bars and restaurants with great food, good wines and a warm atmosphere. It’s prime for people-watching and there’s lots of al fresco dinning (♥). If you do happen to be travelling alone then you won’t feel at all conspicuous sitting unaccompanied around here. Coffee houses have the usual books-out-and-iPads-propped-up-on-the-table crowd. And the dinner spots are filled with the some of the most sociable people I’ve ever come across *cue floods of dinner invitations*.
Surprisingly there were a decent selection of veg options in most restaurants and lots of vegetarian/vegan cafes in Zona G. A few on-the-go favorites were;
Nueva Lengua –the school part -since we were here for 11 days, we opted for 5 days of group classes from 8am-12pm Monday to Friday; a weekend immersion course (cheaper the more participants) and then 3 days of private lessons 1pm-4pm. However there are other alternatives for class schedules, check their website here.
The school also organizes afternoon cultural trips and activities such as cooking classes, dance lessons and excursions. We visited La Catedral De Sal, which is one of the most majestic sights I’ve ever seen – I’m demanding that it becomes the 8th Wonder of The World! You can read about it’s history on the website but, in short it’s a Cathedral carved into the depths of a salt mine. Spectacular.
The group classes were great. It definitely felt like being back at school – with new classmates to get to know and home work every night…hmmm. Our teacher was enthusiastic and encouraging, during a typical class we would focus on building skills in grammar and vocabulary whilst practicing reading, listening and conversational skills.
I found the private lessons a little less fulfilling. I just wasn’t at the conversational level yet so, having someone talk nothing but Spanish at me kinda made me disengage….or maybe it was the disastrous food poisoning spell I was under – bottled water only guys (even to wash your veggies!).
The weekend away to Villa De Leyva did sweeten the learning pill. Gorgeous scenery, stone roads and beautiful architecture soon became my biggest distraction. I felt like a little Senorita in an old Colombian film. Two teachers accompanied us -who were great- and communicated in Spanish non-stop. This excursion did bulk up the cost of the trip, but it was worth it. Everything was organised and hassle free: transportation, hotel, dining, excursions, Spanish lessons – and it’s all included in the price. It’s like travelling with your own dedicated Colombian cultural concierge.
Studying whilst travelling makes for a hugely rewarding trip – it’s only going to enhance the experience, that’s for sure. What do you reckon? Are you ready to commit to this exciting new challenge? I think you are! If my wonderful adventure has whet your appetite and you’d like to know anything else please leave a message below. Have a similar post? Do tell me in your comment, por favor.