My second last day at the Guadalajara Language Centre had begun. During my two hours of instruction we had a great discussion about cultural differences between the United States (or Canada) and Mexico. As we were all at an intermediate or advanced level, it was great to be able to conduct conversations about interesting topics like these in the Spanish language. Active conversations in the company of a native speaker who can correct the students’ mistakes is one of the best ways of learning a language.
My co-students George and Michael with our teacher Miguel
My co-student George, a retired university professor from Oregon, shared his language learning experiences in class: he had studied Spanish in La Antigua (Guatemala), Medellín (Colombia), and different parts of Central America before studying Spanish here at the Guadalajara Language Center. We all admired his language learning experience and I for myself resolved that I would try to visit many more Spanish-speaking cities and countries to improve my own Spanish language skills. Fortunately, Spanish offers great opportunities for language learning and travel.
2nd floor study area at the Guadalajara Language Center
Miguel, our local teacher, had spent some time in the United States and confessed that he had a hard time adjusting to some things that were different from what he was used to. For example, he had a hard time getting used to the concept of bathtubs. Most people in Mexico only have a shower, so he felt that filling the bathtub with water was a real waste, especially considering that Mexico often experiences water shortages.
Classroom at the Guadalajara Language Center
He also needed some time to get used to different social structures. Mexicans are very outgoing and socialize a lot with family and friends. When he came to the United States, people came across as cold, unapproachable and reserved. He found it difficult to make friends with people, especially at the beginning. George, on the other hand, also contributed some more practical comments: he was having a hard time getting used to the dim lights in the Mexican bathrooms which made it hard for him to shave himself. We also ended up talking about Cuba, a country where I had studied Spanish and done some traveling. Cuba is always a fascinating topic that is full of contradictions.
One of Tlaquepaque’s most popular sights: the cultural centre El Refugio
This Thursday was the last evening for many of the students at the Guadalajara Language Center since many of them were leaving on Friday. So a few of us decided that we were going to meet for a drink in the evening and celebrate our time together in Mexico. That’s one thing I really like about language study travel: you meet so many cool, like-minded people who love traveling and learning languages. The language schools that I have studied at have always provided me with a social network and a safety net, particularly since I travel by myself as a female. It’s always great to have a trustworthy network of local contacts when you are traveling by yourself in all sorts of foreign destinations.
Mural inside of El Refugio
After a brief snack I went to the Casa del Artesano which displays a wide range of traditional crafts of Tlaquepaque, from ceramics to blown glass, wrought iron, woodwork, painting, and other local artistic disciplines. The local tourism office is located in this building, and they were going to set me up with a guide for a personal tour of Tlaquepaque.
Jonatan, the tourist police offer – my official guide of Tlaquepaque