I am so glad I chose to spend two weeks studying Spanish at Nueva Lengua on Colombia’s Caribbean coast in Cartagena.
Having done a few Spanish classes before, I was keen to learn some more and shake off some nerves and develop some confidence to put some of my new-found words to use – and it turns out there were plenty of chances for that.
The classes and teachers used Spanish at every given opportunity and gently encouraged us students to do the same — no matter how basic our grasp of the language.
After a brief examination to assess my level I was put into a small class of four for lessons that perfectly complemented my prior knowledge.
The three hours of learning each weekday were followed by a further hour of conversation practice where we deployed our Spanish in a variety of real-life scenarios, role plays and question-and-answer situations.
The teachers were encouraging, patient and obliging as each of us struggled to recall the words we were after and attempted to pronounce them.
The practice spawned confidence which allowed us to inflict our Spanish on unsuspecting Cartagenans in the afternoons after class or during the cultural activities the school offers.
Cartagena is a beautiful, relaxed city and has plenty of ways to spend an afternoon, aside from the optional afternoon activities at Nueva Lengua like wandering the old city, Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, exploring the centuries-old city wall and the lively streets and plazas of photogenic Getsemani.
The after-class activities — particularly the bike tour of Cartagena and the trip to the bizarre mud volcano at Totuma — were some highlights of my time in the city.
On the weekends many students took day or overnight trips to the nearby beaches on Islas de Rosario and Playa Blanca.
Given I was visiting on a long weekend I opted for the less crowded shores of Isla Tierra Bomba and relaxed on the beach and explored some of the fishing villages on the island.
I felt safe and welcomed by the people of Colombia throughout the whole city during my two great weeks there.
Studying at Nueva Lengua Cartagena not only gave me the opportunity to fall in love with Colombia but also inspired me to further my Spanish studies at home