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Immersion is the way to go!This was my first time as a group leader and the only tour I was interested in was the immersion tour to Madrid with the Barcelona extension. Students that went had to be recommended by their world languages teacher and had to have just completed Spanish 3 or above. They had such an amazing experience interacting with locals, taking culinary and flamenco classes, learning about the culture, history, architecture, etc. The tour director and I only spoke Spanish to them and by the end they were very confident in their abilities.
Best I could have hoped for!I have been so excited for this trip for the last eight months, I haven't even planned anything else for my summer. My standards for this trip were so high that I figured I would probably be a little disappointed once it was actually happening. Instead, we had the most amazing tour anyone could have asked for. Our tour director was amazing and I miss being in Madrid already (it's only been two days, haha). The classes were great and our teacher was so sweet! I loved visiting Toledo and getting to see all of the old cathedrals and the forge. The market challenge was probably my favorite part just because the people who worked there knew that we would ask them all of the questions we had (not to mention all of the delicious foods). In all, I had the experience of a lifetime and I would definitely recommend an immersion tour to anyone who's looking to expand their understanding of a language and/or its culture.
Well Worth It!The Spanish Language Immersion Tour in Madrid was a wonderful experience. From the moment of our arrival to our departure our itinerary was packed with events and activities that were geared toward language proficiency, cross cultural understanding, life skills acquisition and just plain fun and enjoyment. My group experienced amazing adventures facilitated by our very knowledgeable, friendly guide. She was fantastic. The tour was worth every penny. I would do it again.
Wonderful tripWe had a great trip to Spain. I highly recommend the trip to others. The students did a lot of hands-on activities like cooking, dancing, talking to people, going to others' houses for dinner, etc. It was very organized and well planned out.
An Eye OpenerRatings
Fun Rating: 5 Stars
The sights and activities provided throughout the tour really helped improve my Spanish language. I just wish we didn't have to take the classes because they seemed pretty pointless to me. However, our schedule was engineered very well and kept us occupied but excited at the same time.
Tour Guide: 5 Stars
My tour guide was amazing; she was supportive, friendly, and easy to talk to whenever I needed her. My teacher will request the same tour guide for the trip she is doing next year too.
Hotel Quality: 5 Stars
We stayed at a hotel across the street from the Royal Palace and the room was very functional. On a previous EF tour, I was forced to sleep with two people in one bed and everyone felt very uncomfortable. This time, our room had 4 twin beds that were extremely comfortable and easy to sleep on. Hotel service was also excellent.
Class Quality: 3 Stars
When I first enrolled for this trip I was told that I would have to submit a Youtube video, be given a written test upon arrival, and be sorted into a class at a university in Madrid depending on my level of Spanish. Instead, a written test was never administered and we never went to a university in Madrid to study. We simply went to the EF headquarters in Madrid and everybody in our tour was taught basic Spanish. In addition, because our first day of class was on a national holiday, we skipped a day of class that we had originally paid for. Back to the original point, our classes were very basic and elementary; next year I am entering AP Spanish and our classes on this trip consisted of naming fruits and playing games. I went on this trip thinking I would really improve my Spanish through these classes but they were very poor compared to what I expected. Even so, I'm glad I did not go on a sightseeing tour because I came more for a study trip than as a tourist. The language immersion trips (although they have poor classes) have activities geared more towards interacting with locals and really learning the culture of the city. In my opinion, sightseeing tours simply browse through a location without actually getting to know the area. Therefore, I would enroll on a language immersion tour not for the classes but for the more engaging activities provided.
Transportation: In Spain, you will be walking A LOT. The first day you will walk 8 miles and from then on, everyday will be about the same more or less. You will also be using the metro quite a bit but you will most definitely be walking to the metro so you will never get away with not walking.
Food: A majority of Spanish food is made up of meat, cheese (heavy cheese), salads, and seafood. If you are a vegetarian, light-eater, or seafood hater, you will have a hard time eating. In addition, there are small snack stores everywhere around the city that sell water, chips, candy, ice cream, etc. very cheap. I chose to buy bottled water instead of drinking tap water just because the bottled water was so cheap and I was not sure whether or not to trust the tap water.
Pick-pocketing: Pick-pocketers are real, my friend's phone was stolen within 2 hours of our arrival in the city. I am not joking when I say keep track of your belongings and it's okay to be paranoid about it.
Money: Credit cards were used in our group but be sure to tell your bank that you are traveling or else your card will be blocked. If you want to retrieve money from your account, I recommend going to a bank and not using an ATM. My friend's card was taken by an ATM and she never got her card back; she has deactivated the card but never got it back. Remember that your money, your passport, and your phone are your most valuable belongings and always keep them close to you.
Phone Service: Before you depart, try to alert your phone company that you are traveling and ask for some sort of Travel Pass. I used a Verizon Travel Pass that allowed me to stay on my plan from home while traveling overseas for an additional charge of $10 a day. This is important and useful when you don't have wi-fi and are in an emergency and need to contact someone.
All in all, I would like to say that I absolutely loved Spain and would definitely consider studying abroad there one day. My Spanish truly improved after my trip (mainly my speech) and I was also able to break through a barrier of uneasiness and fear when I was forced to converse with the locals. In the end, you can definitely count on me traveling to Spain sometime again within my lifetime.
Great experience, with a few bumpsThe Madrid Language Immersion tour was great, once we got there everything went smoothly and great but there we're a few things that as a first timer I would've liked to know. First if all, when I first signed up to do this trip, I was told that students didn't need to know the language. Even though they can survive the tour without knowing the language, they will lose A LOT from the experience. Students should have more than just the basics of the target language, at least 2 years, to actually make the most of the experience. They WILL NOT accommodate to the needs of a group of students who feel lost and are not really getting it, they will need translations by the teacher or a more advanced student. If the students know Spanish, then the tour is absolutely perfect and does help them expand their knowledge and use the language completely.
Awesome ExperienceI had a great time in Spain. I learned about a new culture and got to experience something i never thought i would. I would definitely sign up to do this again