After my first 3 days in Mexico City I travelled to another part of Mexico called Oaxaca. The whole region of Oaxaca is known for its authenticity: there are beautiful traditions which are passed on from generation to generation, numerous indigenous languages which are still spoken in various parts of the district, the Michelin star-worth dishes (except the salty, dried grasshoppers. That is just a no-no), the breath taking landscapes and lastly, the “not so very tall people”.
I started day 1/14 by sitting a test in Spanish in the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca, a school which hosts people from all over the world, keen on studying Spanish. The test consisted of multiple choice questions so I found myself guessing most of the answers. This was followed by a 15 min conversation assessment with one of the maestros in ICO which was one of the funniest parts because I, armed with my 3 gold verbs : estoy, tener and comer,I was trying my best to hold a conversation. Even my maestro was trying hard to hold back a smile at my attempt to speak spanish. To conclude, I was placed in level A2.2 (which is better than A1 :D) and over the 2 weeks spent in ICO I upgraded to B1, guided by 2 fantastic maestros, Zuly and Octavio who had to put up with my numerous panic attacks caused by a new Preterito tense (because Spanish has like 200 of them) and my constant omission of verbs. Muchisimas gracias, maestros !
In ICO I got the opportunity to meet some fantastic people of which I will write more in my following blogs. Also, there are so many things to fill up your time, not just in school but also outside of it, in the busy town of Oaxaca. The courses in ICO run from 9 to 12, followed by one hour of conversation with the maestro. As a student, you have the choice of having an intercambio hour as well. This means that ICO pairs you up with someone who lives in Oaxaca and wants to learn English. Usually, intercambio is divided equally between speaking English and Spanish, which benefits both participants. I was very lucky to be paired up with a very intelligent, dynamic girl called Paola. Her English was next to perfect and we soon became friends and even to this day we keep in touch with each other.
After intercambio, one can also choose a variety of extra-curricular classes such as salsa, cooking, alebrijes (wooden figures painted in vibrant colours), conversation, sowing etc. For my first week I chose salsa and in the second I joined the cooking class. Salsa proved to be the most amusing 2 hours of the day, kicking my left leg into my right, stepping on other people’s legs, inventing new moves when the Maestro wasn’t looking… for this I want to say a big thanks to my two partners, Eugene and Vincent who always joined in the banter.
As of the second week, I joined Lulu’s cooking class, where I learned how to make: Champurrados, a very thick drink made out with cocoa and maize and served with sweet bread. One tiny cup fills you up for the day. Tamales de frijol is like a holy dish which we cooked and I encourage everyone to try it at least once in their lifetime, and many other recipes which I kept safe in my folder, so I can recreate them when I return back home.
The two weeks spent in Oaxaca were filled up with beautiful experiences, inspirational people and unforgettable memories. I came to this colourful city with the aim to learn how to speak Spanish and I left with a baggage of knowledge and a handful of friendships which I know will last a lifetime.
Hasta pronto !