Que dificil es hablar el Español, and even harder to study in it - Erasmus in Vigo

Immediately after arriving in Vigo, I had one big test. The first phone call in Spanish. This is harder than talking live. There is a lack of non-verbal communication, which was an essential part of my speech in Spanish, especially from the beginning. I was a little nervous about it, but it went without any problems, and after a while, I drove here by bike to my new home.

Gradually, we began to get to know other Erasmus students, either through a language course, which he immediately started, or an evening chat’n beer, and gradually found out that I was not so bad at it. Maybe we’re all just as bad. Most people came with dusty Spanish from high school. Those who study it easily excelled and thus have a Spanish level of at least B2. But their knowledge was often more theoretical.

Before school started, I took an EICL Galician course. These courses are funded by the EU but are only for minority languages (Spanish courses for foreigners are already paid for). Galician is one of the official languages in Spain, spoken by about 3 million people. It is as distant from Spanish as Slovak from Czech. Words often contain "x," which reads as "č," but lacks "j," which is often replaced by "x." Many things are similar to Portuguese. It allegedly evolved from Galician.

Given that everyone in Galicia speaks Spanish, it was not necessary, but it was pretty interesting. The course also included many excursions, and the teachers were great. In two weeks, they introduced Galician culture in such a way that some students did not learn it for the entire semester. I'm quite surprised that only 14 out of several hundred completed the course.

The beginning of school was rough. I understood the lectures here or at least knew what they were talking about. But only the first 10 to 15 minutes. Keeping attention in the class is always tricky and blunt in a foreign language. This is still a problem for me; once I keep my attention for two whole hours (lectures are 120 minutes long and often follow each other only with a five-minute break to move), I'm going to celebrate.

At the beginning of the semester, there was an intensive Spanish course. I skipped that and enrolled in a three-month course at the B1 level. My first Spanish lesson was here. The course was two hours twice a week, which took up a relatively substantial part of the schedule. It was definitely worth it. We probably had the best and most motivated teacher in the world. We went through a lot of things in class, but it definitely takes a little homework to live those things up. Too bad I didn't have much time for that due to other subjects. I gave the final exam here at 90%, but my Spanish could have been better.

Spain is very specific when it comes to communicating with other exchange students. In most other countries, English is strongly prevalent as a communication tool between students from different countries. But here, most people came to improve especially their Spanish. So the beginning took place completely in English, which almost everyone (except the Italians, but it is a chapter in itself) masters. Gradually, however, it began to change. By the end of the semester, the "lingua franca" of Erasmus was definitely Spanish. The Spaniards sometimes watched in disbelief that the Czech and German spoke Spanish. And most of all, they stared when we met with Slovaks and Poles, and they didn't understand how we understood each other when we each spoke a different language. One British woman probably hasn't spread it yet.

Study in Spain

My idea to go to Erasmus arose, among other things, from the fact that I had only five courses left for the fifth semester. So when I arrived at my coordinator here in Spain with a selection of seven courses that should match at least parts of my courses (or so it seemed from the title, some syllabi were not available until September), he asked me: “And which courses are for the summer and which for the winter semester? ”. The local students enroll in five courses per semester as standard and still have a lot of work to do. I see!

After the first few lectures, I began to say goodbye to the idea that I could do it all because all courses in their content and complexity correspond to more than six credits. Not to mention nine-credit ones.

One credit is about 25 hours of study. It usually comes out as an ideal preparation at my university. Here it's kind of the minimum. This is in case you do not have to go over materials in Spanish. Most professors take it very seriously and do not give anything to anyone for free, not even the Erasmus students.

It was clear that the passing and recognition of the whole semester would not work, so it was time for Plan B. I had some "easier" courses advised by the students and started to arrange the extension of my studies. The first semester was still marked by studying because even the easier courses contained various, relatively large, projects. Exams followed in close succession, a few days after the end of the class. These have one fixed term for all students and are written. The results are expected to take several weeks, and the correction deadline is in July. Quite a stressful system. In the end, I did all the tests. That is, except for one that coincided with another. So I decided to go for the easier one and asked the teacher for an alternate date. I was told that the alternate date is in July…Obrazec "Když na Erasmus tak na celý rok"

I had a really easier second semester. What's more, I suddenly had no problem understanding the interpretation or paying attention to the whole lecture. Spanish has already gotten into my blood. Sometimes, of course, I missed something, but if I remember correctly, it happens to me in Czech as well. Many people say "When to Erasmus, then for a whole year!" and it is so true. After half a year, you will learn the language, get used to the environment, and you would go home. Extending the stay was the best decision.

“15 days to deadline? It means 14 days free!”

I already knew the second semester, and everything went smoothly. In only one group work did I come across a typical Spanish approach, where I kicked my "colleagues" into doing something just a few days before handing it in. (A fairly large program of about 1,200 lines, it certainly could not be done overnight.) And suddenly the end, the exams were done, the credit limit was met. A few days off and up to the next adventure or "Mallorca volume III." And this is where the real adventure began!