Posted in: Home / Archives for September 2008

I’d rather be in Salerno!

I’ve been studying at a really nice school in Salerno, in the South of Italy. Originally I wanted to study in Rome but the cost of the course put me off and I decided that the location of Salerno, on the Amalfi Coast, was perfect for a summer course (in fact it’s only just over 2 hours by train from Rome so I managed a weekend visit in any case!).

The city itself is not huge, but there is plenty going on, open-air concerts (usually free!), evening walks along the seafront, local festivals where you can taste the typical food and drink from that village and plenty of great bars and restaurants. It’s amazing how many people are around in the evening – that’s when the city really comes to life in the summer!

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When in Porto…

Porto is without doubt one of the most lively, vibrant cities that I’ve ever been to. It’s not just architecturally beautiful, but is also a university city with amazing nightlife and very interesting traditions!

I was there at the start of the academic year, and I was amazed by the way the university students, dressed in the university’s customary black capes, gather in the main square and listen to the “tuna” (university band) singing Fado to the lovely sound of the Portuguese guitar – a wonderful local tradition, that helped me realise that my time in Porto was going to be something special!

Another amazing place that I soon discovered in Porto was the “Ribeira”, located in the old part of city. There are traditional restaurants, cafés and nightclubs, all with amazing views over the river Douro. It’s a part of the city that never sleeps! I often went there in the evening, with other students from the school.

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Bariloche, my second home!

After my four weeks stay in Buenos Aires, I chose to change place and see something different about Argentina.

I didn’t really know Bariloche before, but I heard that it’s a great place for outdoor activities. I arrived there by bus and already on the way I was impressed of the landscape! I knew immediately that it is the right place to be for the next couple of weeks!

So I attended another 4 weeks of Spanish lessons there.

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Salsa and Spanish!

My name is Jessica and at the beginning of 2008, I spent 6 weeks living in Havana, Cuba. I had the time of my life!

I arrived in Havana at the end of March, which was an excellent time to go, because the weather was perfect. My host family came to pick me up, and brought me back to a nice apartment in west Vedado, an area just bordering the district of Miramar. There was a girl from England staying in the room next to mine, and over the course of our time in Cuba, we became great friends!

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Free tapas in Granada!

I’ve just come back from 4 weeks studying in Granada and it’s by far the most stunning Spanish city I’ve been to! I really loved every minute there. It’s unlike anywhere else – You realize this from the minute you arrive, with the incredible Arabic palace “La Alhambra” towering over the city, and the snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains behind – You just know you’ve arrived somewhere special!

There is also the stunning Albaicin area, the old town, in which there are a series of old narrow streets with typical old buildings and Moroccan stalls and Moroccan tea houses….where you get a real feel for how Granada would have been right back in the time of the Arabs.

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Glaciers and Spanish!

When I was planning my gap year, I immediately decided to include Latin America. As I am half way through a Spanish language degree at university, I thought it made good sense to not only do a Spanish course in Spain, but also learn some Latin American Spanish – different accent, different sights – I couldn’t wait!

I flew to Buenos Aires, spent a few days sightseeing, and then travelled overland to Bariloche. It was a REALLY long coach trip, but I loved it – watching the countryside go by, chatting to people on the coach… and then I saw Bariloche appearing on the horizon, and my excitement grew!

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Roma is the city for everyone!!

I took a 6 week course in Roma and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it! Roma is definitely a city that suites all types of people as it has everything and more. It’s a big city but almost everywhere you go you can see beautiful old roman buildings! The city is full of so many things to do and the roman people are SO friendly! It’s also so easy to get around the city by either bus or metro.

The school is in the centre, and so after school you can head into the centre for sightseeing, or go for a stroll and get an ice cream – I really got addicted to Italian ice cream whilst I was there! The food is also amazing and there is a great typical restaurant just around the corner from the school, where many Italians and students go.

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A great experience in Buenos Aires

First I wanted to study Spanish in Spain. Then suddenly I thought why not making an experience a bit further away? So changed my mind and went to Buenos Aires. There I took a Spanish course for 4 weeks.

I didn’t speak a word when I arrived. I had some basics, but that was all. I chose to live in a host family; there you have the possibility to speak the language the most. And it was just perfect! I had a lovely host mum and she really took care in speaking a lot with me. She was like my second family.

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Falling in love in Antigua!

I loved Antigua! If you’re looking for a Spanish immersion course in a charming, inexpensive location, then choose Antigua, Guatemala! It’s a relatively small city with cobbled streets, a great colonial influence, beautiful architecture, and picturesque landscapes. It has even been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

Perhaps what I liked most about Antigua from my very first moment here was its indigenous population. Their presence gives such a unique cultural atmosphere to the city. When here, you really must check out the Nim Pot Market, which showcases the distinct Mayan textiles and handicrafts from hundreds of nearby indigenous villages. The mission of this “retail museum” is to preserve Mayan cultural identity – and they are certainly doing a great job, as it attracts tourists, locals, and visitors from around Guatemala. You can spend hours just browsing through all of the magnificent Mayan creations – don’t be afraid to get a few souvenirs for friends and family back home!

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Walks along the beach after Spanish!

Malaga gave me my first introduction to Spanish culture, proving to me that it is a gorgeous city, full of wonderful surprises. The city has everything I imagine of Spain, and more! Not only does it have beautiful beaches, friendly people, and a laid back seaside atmosphere, but there are also historic buildings, famous cathedrals and museums, and an amazing night life to explore throughout the city!

My classes in Malaga ended in the early afternoon, so I had the rest of the day free to visit the nearby city center and learn more about my host country with my new friends. The Spanish day conveniently is much longer than I am used to, with dinner at about 10pm, so after school I got to enjoy my lunch, siesta, a walk around the city to view the beautiful buildings and architectural styles that were so new to me, and a cultural activity (cathedral or museum), and then the nightlife! Plaza de la Merced is where all the students and locals start the night- just a great place to talk with your friends, relax and have a drink or a laugh before you start your night full of salsa dancing!

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