Valladolid and tapas

You would have thought that studying English Literature in English in Spain would mean I missed out on the language and the culture, not at all. I spoke Spanish all the time; at University with ERASMUS friends and classmates, in the supermarket, on nights out and even with chatty neighbours in the lift on my way down and out of the flat.

stuprof-rsarllvalladolidAs for culture, well I visited so many places during my short time in Spain, including Salamanca, Madrid and Granada. I experienced the lovely hot summer weather and ate more than my share of delicious tapas and all the wonderful varieties of turrĂ³n, a traditional Spanish sweet Christmas food, that comes in a bar form. I also regularly partook in the incredible nightlife, staying out until 6 in the morning, rolling out of bed the next day for my 10 o'clock class only a little bleary eyed! Classes were taught very differently to the lecture style of my English Literature degree here in Reading. Tutors were more concerned with the personal history of the author as well as the social, historical and political background of the text, rather than analysis of the actual text itself. However this was a very interesting change and I really feel I learnt a lot, especially because the classes were taught from a different, foreign perspective of English life and culture.

Moving to Valladolid for three months entailed learning another language in greater depth and then using this unfamiliar language to arrange accommodation, buy food and drink, meet new friends and study. It meant moving my life from Reading, England to Valladolid, Spain. It meant a new culture and a new lifestyle quite different to that I had ever known at home. It meant a new me. Life can get boring when you don't challenge yourself and when you don't explore its exciting but also slightly frightening possibilities.

From all this newness I have learnt to be far more independent. I have realised that my Spanish is actually fairly decent; in fact, I can have a conversation with a native Spanish speaker, be understood and understand them in return (for the most part). I have discovered that I very much enjoy tapas and that staying out until 6am on a night out, as seems customary in Spain, is perfectly possible. I can live happily in a shared flat and ensure its maintenance; having had desperately dull but useful conversations with the landlady about what it was that had now broken/ was not working in the flat. I can find my way around Valladolid, get lost in newly explored parts of town and Spain as whole, but I can also find my way again. Ultimately, I have learnt that I can rely on myself even when faced with challenge, surprise and change. And that is very good to know.

I could not recommend the ERASMUS experience more highly.


Roberta Sarll, BA History of Art and English Literature

University of Valladolid (Spain)


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