I am so happy I decided to come to Guatemala! The past two weeks have been a nice change of pace from my time in Europe. One of the goals of my RTW trip is to learn Spanish. I decided to start my Central/South America adventures by taking Spanish classes at The Antiguena Spanish Academy. Antigua is the perfect place for anyone interested in learning Spanish for the following reasons:
- Classes are Cheap – I paid $100 for 5 days of 1×1 classes for 4 hours per day.
- Great Teachers – I did not know any Spanish when I started classes two weeks ago, and now I feel comfortable having a 30-minute discussion in Spanish. It amazes me how much I learned in only 2 weeks.
- Customized Learning – Each teacher caters their classes for their students whether your are a beginner, like me, or fluent. My friend Rachel was already fluent, but she wanted to improve her Spanish and learn more medical terms since she wants to be a doctor in Spanish speaking areas. She came down to Guatemala for a week and had a positive learning experience.
- Fostering Environment – I have never been good at learning languages, yet it amazes me how quickly I am picking up Spanish here. The people who live in Antigua are accustomed to students, therefore people are more helpful with your learning process (i.e – talk slower, and happy to help you with Spanish). Also it’s easy to find another student and go to a cafe and study together.
- Home Stay Experience – I pay $60 per week to stay with a family and other expats learning Spanish. Johanna, the mom, makes 3 homemade Guatemalan dishes 6 days a week. Not only is the food delicious, but only paying $60 for food and accommodation for a week is amazing value for a backpacker! During lunch and dinner the goal is to only speak Spanish with each other (Though I am guilty of speaking a lot of English during meals).
What Does a Typical Day Look like?
As I mentioned, the pace of my life in Antigua was much needed after a very full and busy summer in Europe. So here is a typical day for an american expat trying to learn Spanish in Antigua….
7:00 AM: Wake up for breakfast and review my Spanish notes
8:00 AM – Noon: Have 1×1 Spanish Class
10:00 – 10:30 AM – Take a break and eat a snack, usually a chocolate banana (13 cents) and a chalupa or tostado (40 cents). Nothing better than cheap, delicious food.
12:30 – Eat lunch at our homestay.
2:00 -5:00 PM: Either take a siesta or join in one of the activities provided by the school.
4: 00 – 6:00 PM: Go to a cafe with other students and study.
7:00 PM: Eat dinner with homestay.
9:00 PM – Go to a hostel bar and drink a couple beers. Each beer is $1.33
10:00 PM – 1:00 AM: If it is a Monday then it is quizzo night at an Irish bar. Wednesday and Thursday are ladies night, which means free drinks! Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest since people from Guatemala City come to Antigua. The clubs shut down at 1 am, which is perfect because I’m usually tired from all my studying!
What is next?
Antigua has been such a pleasure. I definitely see myself coming back in the future and studying Spanish for a couple months. Guatemala, you have stolen my heart! I’m off to Semuc Champey next to visit some natural pools in a jungle 😀