martes, 18 de junio de 2013


Since I arrived in the city of Valladolid I have been enjoying its wonderful corners, the amazing cuisine, the wines, the culture, the day and night (I especially like this) entertainment and, above all, its people.
I felt welcomed from the very first day, no matter that I was a foreigner and also a mogwai!. I know it is partly due to my overwhelming personal appeal, but the merit is mainly for the people of Valladolid and I am very thankful to them. Even the language has not been a problem. Actually it has been the opposite. The time I've lived in the city has allowed me to improve and perfect my Spanish (or Castellano, as is more usually called here) language skills. Precisely, I would like to talk today about the reasons why Valladolid is an ideal destination for those interested in learning or improving their Spanish.
The foreign students in the city
I've met many foreign students who have come to study and learn Spanish in Valladolid. I show you below the opinions of some of them, which are more or less a general reflection of the views of the people that I have known. They share their satisfaction with the election of Valladolid as a destination to learn Spanish.

For example, I met a nice group of young Swedish who have been in the city for two months perfecting their Spanish. We had a nice chat about the things we liked of the city, such as areas of bars and “tapas”, culinary delights, parks and gardens to stroll (as the Campo Grande or the riverside sites of the Pisuerga river) and other corners of the city, like the Plaza Mayor and the Cathedral so original, unfinished, frozen in time.
We agree that Valladolid is a city to enjoy living for a while and is an ideal place to learn Spanish, so well spoken in this area, because it allows direct contact with people, plus many opportunities to enjoy. It is a city big enough to find anything you may need and ask for but on the other hand it provides a relaxed environment to learn the language.
They have been surprised by certain cultural events, like the religious processions in Easter (Semana Santa), among the most beautiful and famous in Spain, or the International Street Art Festival (TAC). They enjoyed a lot also certain specialties of the Spanish cousin like the “tortilla de patata” (potato omelet) and of course the delicious “tapas” at the bars and restaurants of the city (Valladolid is very well known for its high quality).
I met Beatriz Aguirre, responsible for the Spanish courses at the International School of Cooking of the Valladolid Chamber of Commerce, where these girls have been studying. He told me that more and more people choose Valladolid as a destination to learn Spanish. In the last year the number of foreign students has doubled. It is not bad, isn´t it?
I also spoke with Ebba, another Swedish student (back to the seventies!) who had come to study Spanish and was doing an internship at the Society for the Tourism Promotion of Valladolid. She had recently arrived to the city so she still had not time to perfect the language. Nevertheless she assured that her ability to communicate in Spanish was greatly improved during the nightlife at the pubs (I wonder why). She didn’t spoke mogwai either (one of the most spoken languages…​​in my Chinese village) but we managed to understand each other well. She confirmed, as the other students, that she felt very comfortable in the city, despite she needed some more time to improve her Spanish. I recommended her to take it easy and in the meantime enjoy a glass of those splendid local wines.

A few days ago I commented on this blog also my interview with Artur Rodrigues, the Brazilian student who has been living and studying in Valladolid for the last 4 years. As you will remember, he told us that he loves Valladolid. He thinks that this city is an ideal place for studying and living for a while (he has traveled extensively in Spain, so he can compare with other sites). He told us about the purity of the Spanish spoken here and that, contrary to what the people of Valladolid think about themselves, in Valladolid they do have their own accent.
Artur commented with us some of the reasons for coming to study to Valladolid, among them the character of the people, the charming of the city, full of unexpected and wonderful places, from small squares to majestic buildings such as the Church of St. Paul or the College of San Gregorio, the rich cultural life (he loves the Street Theatre Festival, the International Film Festival SEMINCI and, moreover, the everyday cultural life) and, of course, he loves the food, which for him is spectacular. From time to time he likes to visit a big capital, what is very easy because Valladolid is very well connected. He only has missed the beaches of Brazil (I do too!), despite Valladolid has amazingly its own beach!
Language Centres and Schools of Spanish in Valladolid

Let me introduce you to Isabel Paúl, head of international relations at the Language Center of the University of Valladolid. Isabel routinely travels the world establishing partnerships with universities and organizations interested in choosing a good destination for their students to study Spanish. Isabel knows very well, and she is used to explain too, the virtues of the Languages Center where she works ​​and also the many advantages of choosing Valladolid as a destination to learn Spanish.
We talk about her impressions and Isabel tells me some of the priorities that the responsibles and teachers of foreign centers usually express when they are seeking a suitable destination for their students.
She says that, for example, teachers and students from United States, and also the Asian countries, are very concerned about the security issues. They look for a safe city, not risky at all, where the foreign people can move without problems, something that is more difficult to find in other Spanish-speaking countries or in other big cities. I know it very well; pickpockets and muggers of big capitals and very crowded tourist cities look at my poor Asians fellows like an appetizing cupcake. Fortunately I pass unnoticed because no one pays attention to a hairy, but full of charming, half a meter tall thing
At the same time, says Isabel, Valladolid is very well connected. Madrid is less than an hour by train. Barcelona (and other European cities) is connected by a low cost airline, so it is very easy and cheap to make an escape for a weekend or for short holidays in order to visit other sites of interest in Spain and Europe.
Isabel tells me that another reason why people choose Valladolid is the educational quality of its schools and language centers and, in the case of her own Language Centre of the University of Valladolid, the possibility to officially certify their courses. 
You can find information about the different schools and language centers in Valladolid at, where people interested in coming to Valladolid to study Spanish will also find other useful information of interest. 

Students like also Valladolid because it is a university city. Although the number of students is very high, comparing with the total inhabitants of the city the percentage is lower than in other smaller cities. That is, the university life is very intense, but unlike small university cities, there are lots of chances of interaction with other social environments than the students. This is important when somebody wants to really learn a language. More and more people try to avoid the usual problem of going to a small town where everyone goes to learn the native language and eventually they finish interacting only with foreigners or students from their own country. 
With regard to this, a very good possibility offered directly by the Language Centre of the University (and offered also by the Local Tourism Office) is to stay and live with host families in the city. For the student is a unique opportunity to get a real language immersion and for the families can be an enriching cultural experience as well as the opportunity to have some extra incomes (depending on features, between 100 and 200 € per week!), which is not bad in these times.
It is a pity that they do not fit in my box, otherwise I would call tomorrow to sign up on the list of host families (I encourage you to do it, they are always looking for people interested and it can be a very good experience).
Staying with host families: a very nice intercultural experience.

I also chatted with Gloria, a friendly woman from Segovia who works for the Public Health System in Valladolid. She discovered time ago the hosts programs through the pressFamilies settled in Valladolid receive at home foreign students of Spanish, housing them in a familiar environment and making the stay in Spain much more bearable for them.
For ten years, Gloria has received students from around the world. About 40 students have passed through his home at the time. The links that have been created with these students have been so close that some of them have returned years later to locate Gloria.
Far from seeking economic benefit, the goal of Gloria was only to enrich culturally the lives of her own children. Her work, which forces her to organize into rotating shifts, has not been a problem since the only requirement asked to the guests was to conform to the schedules of her family.
Students who stay at her home are always older than 20 so Gloria´s sons have been always great cicerones in the city nightlife for them.
Gloria recommend to other families to participate in these programs, as long as they want to learn and enjoy the intercultural environment created living together.
At the time of my conversation with Gloria, a 54 year old Dutch, named Christine, is staying at her home. They have created a great relationship. Actually, they both have participated together in the festivities of Gloria´s village in the province of Valladolid, were Gloria has a cottage and spends her holidays.
Cristine has been all a discovery in the village due to her sympathy and kindness. And the relation with the neighbors and friends of Gloria has helped her to acquire better knowledge of the Spanish language and traditions.
These programmes are a real success!
Well, my friends, after several conversations with different people about the topic, I realize that there are many and very good reasons to choose Valladolid as a destination to come to study Spanish. What do you think? Can you identify other additional reasons? What has been your experience? I would like to encourage you to put your comments here on the blog or in my Facebook or Twitter profiles.

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