This is a blog entry on how I decided to learn Spanish by living in Valencia. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to conquer the world’s most spoken languages. I’m a talkative person and I want to be able to talk to 99,99% of the world. So of course, Spanish was one of the languages on my list.
I was always in love with Mediterranean culture so I figured, to learn Spanish I should go to the Mediterranean part of Spain. Both Mediterranean climate and diet are amazing! And, visiting Barcelona a few years ago had proven to me that the people’s character is as sunny as the climate.
No matter that I really liked Barcelona, I couldn’t go there to learn Spanish, as it is very hard to learn a language from the scratch in a bilingual city like Barcelona. The languages spoken in Barcelona are Spanish and Catalan. Important for all of us foreigners: Catalan is not a dialect, it is a language. It has its own grammar, vocabulary, syntax…
Living in Valencia: The research
So, I went on Google Maps to see about other cities on Mediterranean coast of Spain and I saw Valencia. I started a little research on population, transport, but first things first: photos. The photos, oh my, the photos! They displayed the clash of centuries old architecture in the old town, the typical marine neighbourhood Cabanyal, an interesting paradise in Benimaclet (Espai Verd) and the modern architecture outside the centre. And the photos of Turia river park and the sandy beaches – I wanted to go there so much.
Unfortunately, I found out that Comunitat Valenciana is also bilingual… I just couldn’t believe. I immediately contacted my Spanish friends to see if it’s really true. Luckily, it seems that Valencian is mostly spoken in rural areas of Valencian community, while in the city almost everyone speaks Spanish. I was relieved.
I made my choice and decided to go and try living in Valencia.
Living in Valencia: The reality
When I arrived to Valencia, it was all I expected it to be – and much more. I fell head over heels in love with it.
In the history, Valencia’s neighbourhoods were separate villages that have merged throughout time. So, every neighbourhood has its own vibe, its own story… Living in Valencia is like living in many different towns at the same time!
My absolute favourite is the neighbourhood of Benimaclet, a vibrant student neighbourhood with many events every day of the week – and that’s where AIP language school is located. …and in only 10 minutes of cycling you get to the heart of Valencia!
Yes, cycling, I have to tell you about that! So, Valencia has its bicycle sharing system that covers the whole city! A yearly pass for Valenbisi, the bicycle network, costs only €27! Imagine that! And it almost never rains in Valencia, so you can cycle every day!
Also, I could imagine myself actually living in Valencia. Happiness, friendships, family, hobbies – they are much more appreciated here than anywhere else I lived. By spending time in Valencia, I have learned the forgotten art of cherishing the small things.
The first week at the school where I had my classes, the director of the school asked me: “Are you happy?” and I said yes. He replied: “Good. It’s important to be happy.” I don’t know yet what is it that Valencia has, but it seems so easy to be happy here.
And what about you? Do you want to not only learn Spanish, but also how to be happy?
AIP student and intern, 2013