Sorry for not writing in a while but have now left the UK and have been on my first adventure – Pueblo Ingles in Spain.
Even though I had every intention to update my blog on a daily basis while I was on the course, it was quite difficult to do so as there was limited Internet access and free time! Saying that, I think it would also be too boring for you guys if I did write something every day. So, here it is – my Pueblo Ingles 7 days experience condensed in one blog – Enjoy!
So, after 3 hours delay on the tarmac at Heathrow due to heavy fog, I managed to find my way to Casa Patas (best flamenco school apparently!) in Madrid for the briefing lunch. It’s not a compulsory event but who would turn down free lunch with flamenco demonstrations and meeting your fellow Anglo victims for the rest of the week?
The Anglos consisted of a real mixed bunch from across the world and are all very nice (well majority, you always get the odd bad apple here and there). However, you can pretty much categorise them into the following groups:
- Young backpackers / travellers who have recently graduated or bored with their job and don’t have a clue what to do with their lives.
- Single (or recently single) people who are so traumatised with their previous relationship and want to meet new people and/or start a new life.
- Retired people who would take up any opportunity to share their life experience to the world.
As the trip did not begin officially till Friday, a few of us decided to go to La Prado for a look around as it was free entry after 6pm. I personally am not a very artistic person and cannot distinguish the difference between a paint by number piece to the real thing, so it was even more entertaining when we went round the museum and made up our own commentaries.
After a very rubbish night in the hostel (Do not stay at Cat’s Hostel. Read more to see my recommendation!), a few of us caught a cab to the meeting point early Friday morning where our coach was waiting to wizz us all to our venue (Coto del Valle, Cazorla, 5hrs 45mins away from Madrid on a coach!!!). As a terrible sufferer of motion sickness, the coach journey was definitely the worst part of my Pueblo Ingles experience especially when the final hour was going up and down mountains via very narrow and zig zaggy roads!
Eventually, when we got to our final destination, it was probably the most scenic and peaceful hotel I have ever stayed at. Coto del Valle is situated in the middle of the National Park and we were literally surrounded by mountains as the hotel was at the bottom of a valley. Every time I step outside, I had the urge to sing a line from the Sound of Music out loud. Saying that, the drawback of staying at such remote location is definitely lack of Internet!!! The amount of times that I had to hold my laptop above my head and walk around the hotel to get a signal was laughable verging onto pathetic.
It is at the hotel where we first met our Spanish counter parts for the week. After checking into our individual rooms (well for the majority of us anyway), we all sat down and had lunch before the program started officially! The Spaniads consist of 50% Pueblo Ingles Master Programme students (where they have to attend 4 of these courses throughout the year to pass their degree), and 50% business executives (who are paid by their companies to improve their English for work).
The schedule of the week was both repetitive and gruelling! When they say you will be speaking English for 12 hours a day, they were not joking! A typical day consists of:
9:00am – 10:00am Breakfast (Continental buffet style –beware they don’t generally serve tea English style in Spain i.e you may have to microwave a glass of water to get hot water for your brew!)
10:00am – 11:00am One to One (Where an Anglo meet with a Spaniad and talk whatever they want and where ever they want as long as it is in English!)
11:00am – 12:00pm One to One / Conference Calls / Telephone calls ( Spanish Business Executives find it difficult when speaking and understanding English when on the phone especially when the person on the other end is Indian!)
12:00pm – 1:00pm One to One
1:00pm – 2:00pm Group discussion (2 Anglos and 2 Spaniads to talk about anything they want)
2:00pm – 3:30pm Lunch (3 courses and very delicious – I normally hate Fish but as it was so good I had it 5 times over the week. Goes down well with red wine.)
3:30pm – 5:00pm Siesta / free time (People generally take a nap as they are so exhausted from the morning, but some to end up at the bar or bring a few bottles out and continue talking in English!)
5:00pm – 6:00pm Group activity (Generally to wake people up from their siesta. Didn’t help when a sweet old lady decided to lead a group relaxing session after siesta though!)
6:00pm – 7:00pm One to One
7:00pm – 8:00pm One to One
8:00pm – 9:00pm Evening entertainment (Consist of mini presentation from Anglos to talk about anything they want, sketches created by mixture of Spaniads and Anglos generally are hilarious and involving cross dressing.)
9:00pm – 10:30pm Dinner (3 course again and served with unlimited red wine!)
10:30pm - Free time / bed time (Once again, both Spaniads and Anglos do end up in the bar and continue to drink. Unsurprisingly, it is the best time of the day for the Spaniads English speaking skills!
We were supposed to have a morning out to visit the local village / town of Cazorla. However, as we were hit by the worst snow in Spain for the last 20 years when we were there, we were snowed in and was unable to leave the hotel complex. So we ended up eating more food and drinking more alcohol instead. Other non “learning” activities included a local legends night and disco night where more booze was consumed and Anglo / Spanish disco dance move exchange! What made my trip more special was that there was a retired couple who had their 43rd Wedding Anniversary on the final night – there was champagne, cake and lots and lots of tears of happiness.
Overall, it was a highly enjoyable week. I had met lots and lots of interesting new friends from both sides and it was very sad to say goodbye. I would definitely do it again and would recommend anyone to go on the course. Just a few tips if you do go though:-
- Check how long your bus journey is to the venue and Google Map it before you go to Madrid.
- Bring lots and lots of throat sweets and use them.
- If you are travelling from a different time zone to Spain, especially from the other side of the world, make sure you arrive in Madrid a few days before the course first to get rid of your jetlag as the course is very intensive mentally and physically.
- Do not stay at Cat’s hostel. It’s rubbish. Go to Hostal One Central at Sol instead. Great location, very clean and modern, friendly English speaking staff and great money for value!
- The meal time is very different to ours. Lunch and dinner is very late and there is hardly any time for snacks in between as you will be so busy with speaking English. Depending on your hotel, probably a good idea to bring a packet of biscuits or crisps with you just incase!
If you are interested in Pueblo Ingles or just want to ask me any questions about it, feel free to get in touch. In the mean time, I have posted some photos for you to enjoy.
I am currently in Hong Kong so will definitely write again real soon as am starting some private one to one tutoring session at the end of this week.
Take care all.