I’m writing this from our hotel room in sunny Seville. We’ve been here since Friday and I have fallen in love with Spain.
We only booked our trip a week before we left, but I made an effort to learn some Spanish. I’m glad I did, because a little goes a long way! I learnt French and German at school. I’m now fluent in French (mostly thanks to my time as an au pair and being with Olivier) and have forgotten almost all my German (use it or lose it). I never learned Spanish at school though.
Before I left I spent about a week learning a few words and phrases, mostly using Memrise and Duolingo. (More on these later, as I can feel a language-related post coming up.) I wasn’t sure how much use a few words of Spanish would be, but I’ve been genuinely surprised at how far it’s got us. I can’t say very much, but I understand most of what people say to me. On previous visits to Spain I’ve been surprised about how little English most people speak, even those who work in hotels and restaurants. That’s not meant to sound arrogant, it’s just that in most places I’ve travelled to, everyone seems to speak pretty good English and it’s difficult to get people to speak to you in their language. One thing I’ve noticed about Spanish people is that if you try to speak to them in Spanish, they don’t automatically try to speak back to you in English, but they generally speak a bit slower and they don’t seem to mind at all when you make mistakes. I feel a lot more comfortable having a go at speaking Spanish here than I do trying to speak the local language in many other places. (And don’t even get me started on the Parisians… You have to be pretty much fluent before they will stop replying to you in English!)
When I get back to London next week I’ll be a student again, as I’m about to start a part-time masters degree whilst working full-time. I don’t know whether I’ll have any hours left in the day, but if I do I think I might sign up to Spanish classes with the university. Watch this space…
In the mean time, I’ll leave you with some pictures of Seville and the promise of a proper post when I get home!