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Wednesday, November 15, 2006 (read 1063 times)
"Mi visita a Granada" - A dQ scholarship recipient tells his storyby Erin
¡Mi Visita A Granada! By Mike Carrick
Mike Carrick, a student at the Birkdale school in the UK, wrote the following article about his experience at don Quijote Granada for the Birkdale school website. Mike was the recipient of the scholarship awarded to his school as part of the don Quijote 20 Scholarships programme.
"Last term, I was fortunate enough to be awarded one of only five UK don Quijote Scholarships for Spanish. This gave me the opportunity to visit one of the internationally renowned don Quijote Schools in Spain, the Canaries or Mexico, with my accommodation being fully paid for by don Quijote and my airfare being funded by Birkdale itself.
The brochure sent to school by don Quijote was incredible - I was spoilt for choice as I turned page after page, each one advertising a uniquely different school and yet equally appealing. As you can imagine my decision was a fairly difficult one, but I finally settled on Granada for two main reasons. Firstly, advice given to me by my teachers on the architectural beauty and the historical richness of Granada and secondly it's a place in Spain I'd never visited before. And thirdly, advice from my friends that a pint was 70 pence!
It was fairly daunting as I boarded the plane alone for the first time in my life, without friends or family. Having landed in Malága I got a coach (like National Express but cheaper and on time) to Granada, which took approximately two hours. The first thing that hit me as I left the Bus Terminal in Granada was the heat. It was like walking into a 45-degree wall. It was unbearable, particularly having left Manchester at 4am on a cold wet day! The second thing that hit me were the cries of "Oye guapo, dáme un euro!" as the homeless swooped down like vultures on tan-less, suitcase dragging tourists like myself! However, the Granadan taxi drivers, doubling as bodyguards, quickly ushered me into a taxi (a taxi being a brand new Mercedes, not your black cab!) and had me at my flat in less than 20 minutes.
Despite the poverty on show at the bus station, as soon as I entered my flat I saw the other half of Granada. The apartment was luxuriously furnished considering it was advertised as a "Student Flat", and the view from the balcony of the Sierra Nevada was incredible. I was sharing the flat with a Swedish girl, Annika, a Swedish boy, Johan and a Danish lad, Kasper. It was an eye opening experience to witness the differences between our cultures, a good example of which was Annika almost crying with shock when I cooked runny fried eggs - apparently its almost sacrilegious in Sweden!
My first Monday was a Public Holiday that I spent sunbathing on our balcony, having got up late afternoon! I had to scrounge food that day, because a Spanish Bank Holiday means everywhere is closed, unlike an English one, where everywhere is open because people get paid more to work!
My study of Spanish didn't begin therefore till Tuesday. I arrived at the school not so bright but very early at 8am, following a night in with my roommates and La Cerveza de La Alhambra. I passed their introduction test and got myself a place in the advanced class, giving me an excellent opportunity to learn Spanish at University Level. What was an even nicer surprise was that my lessons started at 3pm, leaving me the whole morning for sleep.
The scholarship offered me four hours of Spanish each day, which meant I finished school at 7pm each evening. During my lessons, we studied various aspects of Spanish grammar, including the present and imperfect subjunctive, as well as sentence structure and Spanish culture. In retrospect, I feel that spending two weeks intensively studying Spanish, rather than at school where my time is divided between other subjects, has greatly improved my level of Spanish as well as the level of my understanding of Spanish culture, and the laissez-faire attitude of Andalusian life.
In order to further improve my knowledge of Spanish culture and the Granadan lifestyle, I thought it would be rude not to sample the nightlife that Granada had to offer. Having heard my teachers' advice regarding the historical richness of Granada, I was slightly apprehensive that the nightlife would be poor in comparison with Sheffield, but immediately I was proven wrong. The first bar we went in was called La Barrica, and like all Granadan bars, every drink you ordered you were given free tapas - a small snack, or not so small in some cases, to accompany your drink. From that moment on, I never bought food from the supermarket again, but lived on the complementary tapas when I bought a drink, and with drinks costing 1€, around 70 pence, it worked out a very cheap stay!
In conclusion, I would consider myself very lucky to have been granted this opportunity to study Spanish at the highest possible level, as well as live like a student for two weeks, giving me an early glimpse of university life. I sincerely hope that Birkdale is awarded another don Quijote Scholarship next year, so somebody else can have the same opportunity as I have had. If not, then I recommend Granada to you as a place to visit, and study, if you have the chance to get to study at don Quijote Granada.