Meet the language student: Rob Rijshouwer (57) in Málaga
07-03-2019 by Linda
Talking about a trip is almost as fun as the trip itself, thats why we talk with travelers every month who have just followed a language course abroad. In this episode Rob Rijshouwer. During his Spanish language trip, he was positively surprised by the fact that he was immersed not only in the Spanish culture, but also in the Chinese and German culture.
CV Naam - Rob Rijshouwer Home - Kruisland (Noord-Brabant) Learned - Spanish for two weeks in december 2018 Languageschool - Debla
Rob, tell something about yourself.
I am active in the automation for doctors and general practitioners in the Netherlands. In addition, I occasionally work as a cameraman at the local tv station. I live in West Brabant in a nice village called Kruisland. In this village I'm quite active: you can often find me at the local football club and I help out with the organization of local festivities. I have four children and a sweet grandson.Last year I got divorced. One of my biggest passions is traveling.
Why did you want to learn Spanish in the first place?
I have friends living in Spain so I am there very often. But I never felt the need to learn Spanish because these friends are Dutch and Belgian: we just talked Dutch to each other. But lately I came in contact with Spanish friends of my Dutch friends and then it felt like a lack that I had to talk with my hands and feet and deficiently English. I wanted to learn the language so that I could also talk Spanish with them.
Was the language course different from what you expected?
Yes! I thought that it would find place in the classroom mainly. But it was so much more than that. As a student at Debla you get completely absorbed in the Spanish culture because after the lessons we went out with the teachers and classmates. We made paella, danced flamenco, went on an excursion in the city center of Malaga and regularly went out for dinner together. A language course goes beyond sitting in the school benches. I really liked that. Especially the first week I joined every activity. I made myself do this, because I realised this would help my Spanish and it's fun as well. You do not have to, of course, but if you do, you will get the most out of your trip and learn the language the fastest. I am very happy about that. I got the whole picture and a real Spanish immersion.
What surprised you the most?
Because you are in class with classmates from all over the world, you do not only learn about the Spanish culture, you also learn about the culture of your classmates. I was in class with a girl from China, a girl from South Korea, a Danish woman and a Polish woman who lives and works in Berlin. We were constantly talking about how things were going in our home country. And of course he teacher told a lot about how things are done in Spain. As a result, I now know more about the Spanish, Chinese, Korean, German and Danish culture, haha. The eating habits, how people live and what the differences are in social interaction. I never thought that with this Spanish language course I would gain so much knowledge about other countries and customs as well.
Did you find learning Spanish was difficult?
The first week was difficult and I felt a bit lost. From the beginning, the lessons are given entirely in Spanish. In terms of Spanish knowledge I went in quite blank, so in the beginning Google Translate was my best friend. Especially if the teacher explained something about the grammar. Then he was talking about a term constantly and I thought: what is this about? But then I looked it up and I thought: ah, 'Tiempo pasado' simply means 'Past time'! Eventually you learn the language very quickly this way. In the second week I thought: I already speak the language a bit!
What did your days look like during the language trip?
My apartment was inside the school so that was ideal. In the morning I left my bed early, made breakfast and then the lessons started around 9 o'clock. Around 11 o'clock we had a break in the sun. The weather was beautiful, in December, isn't that wonderful? The lessons lasted itill one 'o clock, but as one of the few I booked lessons afterwards. I had booked extra lessons. Around 3 o'clock I was ready and then we all went, the classmates and the teachers, into the city, do an activity, or relax at the beach. And in the evening we usually went out for dinner. I spent a lot of time with the teachers and my classmates. It felt like one big family. I also still speak to some students and teachers. Especially via Facebook and Instagram. This way we keep following each other in our daily lives. That is very nice.
Do you have any tips for future language trippers?
Make sure you are not bluntly empty when you start, but that you already know some words. That saves you a lot of energy in the first week. Practice for example with the language app of duolingo. Oh, and keep practicing once you're back! That is also a reminder to myself: I also really have to work with the language app again. But when you are in Spain, practicing will go so naturally. You talk Spanish with everyone all day long. Here everyone talks Dutch again, then keeping track of my Spanish level is quite difficult.
It was perfect, the school functions as one big family with very involved teachers. I actually want to go back in May for a week or two. But maybe I'll go to a city other than Malaga, and therefore another school. Valencia is also very nice I think.
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