I’m Marit, I’m 23 years old and I come from a small town around 30 kilometers above Amsterdam, the Netherlands. When I finished university in September 2014, I had no idea what to do with my life. I studied Global Health and I realized needed to become more international in order to get a career in this field, so an extra language would be a good add to my resume. So, why not choose to learn one of the most beautiful languages in the world, Spanish?
Before deciding to go to Ecuador, I followed a ‘Spanish for beginners’ course in Amsterdam. However, my bad language knowledge and lack of time to really study didn’t help me. That’s when I realized I needed to plunge in Spanish to actually be able to speak the language some day. But where to go? Spain is quite close to home and I felt I needed a challenge, an adventure. South America would be perfect for that. After searching the Internet for days, I found a cute little party town at the coast of Ecuador. As I love the beach and cocktails, the decision was easily made: I am going to Montañita!
Although I had some minor beginner knowledge of Spanish, in Montañita I started all over again in the beginner class. In total I had an 8-weeks of lessons. The first 4 weeks I had group lessons. I had 2 hours of lessons in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon. The group lessons were really good, especially in the beginning you need a lot of vocabulary, and it is fun to learn together with your fellow students with the help of games etc. The structure the teachers have with explaining grammar is perfect.
In the beginning I was in a class of mostly 5 or 6 people (which is the maximum for group lessons), but later on higher levels I had just one or two other fellow student. Despite the fact that I liked the group lessons, I really wanted to switch to private lessons. Being in private lessons forces you to talk, as there is nobody else to answer questions or to help you translate something. Also, when you are in private lessons you can choose what you want to learn and if you want to slow down or move quicker. For example: I needed to practice more speaking in stead of learning all grammar forms, so for the last 2 weeks of classes I mostly chatted with my teachers. I love that during these 2 weeks we talked a lot about the Ecuadorean life and habits. Talking about these things learns you a lot about culture too, which was really interesting.
My experience with Linguaschools in Montañita was amazing. The teachers and staff were always friendly, fun and enthusiastic. The positive vibe really helps you to stay motivated, as learning a new language can be frustrating sometimes. Everybody at the school is flexible and helpful.
Thanks to the school my Spanish improved greatly. I went from knowing some words when I arrived, to being able to chat in Spanish, which I am so happy with. For example: when I arrived in Ecuador, a driver picked me up from the airport (you can arrange this pick up with the school, I really liked it, especially when you arrive at night!). The driver didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Spanish, so there was a huge language barrier there! But when I left Ecuador 8 weeks later, I was talking to people I met on the airport, and chatting with them in Spanish.
Next to learning Spanish, the school also offers surf lessons. Often you surf in between classes. For example you have Spanish class 8-10, surfing from 10-12 and class again 13-15. And yes, you need a nap after that! I really liked the surfing classes, there are amazing teachers who help you and are very motivating and cheerful go get you standing on the board. The lessons are given in the next town where it is quiet, a perfect place to practice. Transport is included. I had a total of 10 lessons and I had a lot of fun during them, and I am definitely able to catch some good (baby) waves now!
During my stay I went on 2 trips organized by the school. To Baños and Cuenca. Both trips were beautiful, really well organized. Great hostels and great activities. Both cities are definitely worth visiting. Baños is a place where you have a variety of extreme sports, of which I tried ziplining, mountainbiking from a mountain and rafting! Cuenca on the other hand is a beautiful city with lots of churches and culture.
During my stay in Montañita, I had a room in de Cabanas, which is close to the school (around 5 min walk). I loved this place. Almost everybody who stays here is also a student at the school. At the cabanas there are many events like water volleyball in the swimming pool, barbeques, cooking nights, movie nights and of course lots of pre parties! The Cabanas have dorms and private rooms. I had a private room, which was huge! The room was cleaned everyday, bed sheets every week. Although you don’t spend that much time in your room, I loved it, as it was a perfect place to have some quiet time on your own.
About the little town: Montañita is amazing. It’s definitely a touristic place, but it’s really fun and sociable. There are so many cool people from all over the world who visit this place. The beach is beautiful; I loved swimming in the ocean and jumping over the big waves. Then there is the cocktail street, where you can buy impressive cocktails for only 3 dollars! After you finished your cocktail, you are ready to dance in a nice bar called Caña grill. Often there is life music early in the evening, and later on the DJ puts on some nice booty shaking music to go loose on. Off course there are so many more bars and clubs in Montañita, but to be honest I have been in Caña grill most of the time, as it was a lot of fun.
As a vegetarian I was a bit worried about the food before arriving in Ecuador. But luckily for me Montañita is full of nice little places and restaurants where you can enjoy yummy lunch or dinner with great vegetarian options too! There is for example a fruit salad street where there are little stands where they sell amazing fruit salads, omelets, sandwiches and yummy smoothies. Perfect for lunch! Also I loved a little restaurant, which we called ‘the wrap place’, as they sell great wraps. But my absolute favorite place to go was Kaffeina, a small restaurant near the church in Montañita. For me as a vegetarian this place was heaven, as they had vegetarian burgers and green curries, all freshly made. And then I didn’t even tell you yet about their perfect deserts! Further I recommend going to Savannah LaMar, a small bar at the beach. Try their cocktail called basil smash, its so good! Oh, and after dancing your butt off in Caña grill, don’t forget to treat yourself on an delicious empanada they sell on the way to the cabanas!
Although Montañita is full of places where you can have yummy food, most of the time I prepared food together with friends in the cabanas. Fruits and veggies are really cheap in Montañita. Therefore, cooking dates, hangover pancake-baking mornings, toast-brunches and avocado-lunches were often seen in the Cabanas.
I am so glad I chose Linguaschools to learn Spanish. I don’t think this experience couldn’t have been any better. The combination of learning Spanish, surfing, partying and chilling in such an amazing little town was perfect. I met so many cool people and we all had a great time together. I am really going to miss this place and I am pretty sure I coming back to Montañita someday to study more Spanish! (just like a lot of other travelers do as well)