Tom is 27 years old and comes from Leigh, near Manchester. He studied Medicine in Liverpool and is now working as a doctor in London. Tom likes reading history and novels, playing guitar, running and swimming. He speaks French, because he went to Angers (Pays de Loire) in the Northern part of France for an exchange program, when he was a student. Before he came to Barcelona he was working in Intensive Care Medicine in London. Due to the fact that he got a new job beginning in August he decided to go abroad and to learn a new language, because he had an opportunity to do something else whilst he was between jobs. Tom used the duolingo app to get some basics before he went on his language travel to Barcelona. When he arrived he had Spanish level A1 and after 4 weeks of the intensive course at linguaschools he reached the A2 level.
Why did you decide to learn Spanish and why did you choose to learn the language during a language course abroad?
My girlfriend spent 4 months in Argentina to learn Spanish. She traveled to South America before and she fell in love with Argentina. That’s why she wanted to go back there to learn the language properly. During her time in Argentina I visited her in Buenos Aires for 3 weeks and I could see that her level of Spanish helped us a lot to experience the culture and country much more deeply. That’s the reason why I wanted to use the short time during my job change to learn Spanish in an efficient way in order to catch up with my girlfriend’s level of Spanish. Another reason is that on the long term I and my girlfriend would like to work and live in a Spanish speaking country, especially in South America.
How did your Spanish level improve during your stay?
I started with nearly no level of Spanish. After 4 weeks intensive course at the language school I feel quite comfortable in terms of understanding Spanish. I can’t say whatever I want but I understand a lot. In case of travelling to Spanish speaking countries, for example booking a hotel, asking locals for information, etc., I feel totally confident and would survive without any problem, because I could easily order food and drinks. (*laughs)
Why did you decide for Barcelona? Why should someone visit this city?
Barcelona was a quick and spontaneous decision. However, there are two reasons, why I had the city in my mind. First, probably my favorite English author George Orwell wrote about Barcelona, in “Homage to Catalonia”, where he recounts his experiences of the Spanish Civil War. So I wanted to come and see the city he wrote about.
Second, Barcelona is a city with a kind an edge to it, because people are little bit more radical and the city is quite different than the rest of Spain. I knew about the Catalan identity and I wanted to find out more about it. Also, the city seems an independent and unique place to visit. You have the mountains behind and the sea in front of the city. The food and drink is great, the architecture is just incredible and there are so many different areas with a different atmosphere in just one city.
What did you do at linguaschools?
The life at school was really sociable and the activities helped me to meet people from different classes. During my time at linguaschools I joined the Tapas tour in Poble Sec and I went on a picnic in the Parc de la Ciutadella with the school. I also played Volleyball and celebrated San Juan with students at the beach of Barcelona and I went on a city trip to visit Sitges, the city of artists. Due to the fact that I made friends easily at school I did a lot with them after school classes and activities as well.
Which are your favorite spots to visit in Barcelona?
There are three venues that are really special for me in Barcelona.
- Can Paixano (La Xampanyeria): It’s a factory shop for wine a couple of streets back from the beach. They are specialized in cava and you can get a glass of it for 1.60 € and around 6 € for a bottle. It a cool bar in Barceloneta which is always absolutely packed. I really enjoyed it, because it is so lively and the food is flying out of kitchen. So I suppose they cook food continuously for people to order it and they serve you really fast.
- Bar Marsella: The bar has been existing since 1820 and it is the oldest bar in town and specialises in absinthe. It seems like they never changed anything on the interior design and the fact that it has signs from the Franco regimes which show the repression of the Catalan language made it even more interesting for me; like travelling in time.
- Olympic Swimming pool at Montjuic: The city of Barcelona built this pool for the Olympic Summer games 1992. It is a swimming pool with an astonishing view, where you see more or less over whole Barcelona. The pool is only open in the summer and it opens in early July.
How can you summarize your language travel and stay in Barcelona?
Barcelona is a great play to come and study. I wouldn’t be to put off that there is Catalan and Spanish, because a lot of people speak Spanish. I would definitely come back to learn Spanish in Barcelona, because I went from no Spanish to level A2, only because of school. In addition I met so many great people, who have a similar outlook on life and similar attitudes. The life at school makes it really easy to integrate and I met with some extremely funny and nice people, for example Vitali from Ukraine, Helle from Norway and Charlotte from London. That’s also an important reason why it is best to learn a language abroad, because you meet so many people from all over the world.