A day in the life of a Speakeasy student - Erika Suzuki
Have you ever wondered what it was like to study Spanish right in the heart of Barcelona? We’ve asked one of our students, Erika Suzuki, to tell us a little bit about her experience. Read on to see what it was like for her!
Erika Suzuki, 22 years old, is from San Francisco, USA. After completing her semester abroad in Madrid, she came to Barcelona for a month and a half from the beginning of February to mid-March, 2020.
As she comes from California where there is a large Latino population, she chose to study Spanish as her second language in school and has been taking classes since the 7th grade! The more she learned, the more she started to fall in love with the language. Erika is Japanese-American and she describes Spanish as a mix between the two languages. The structure and cognates are similar to English while the pronunciation is closer to Japanese. For her, learning Spanish is fun – it’s like a puzzle where she has to put the pieces together.
Erika had always dreamt of studying abroad in Barcelona. She had heard many positive things about the city from many people that visited. She also had a Spanish teacher in high school who was from here and her Catalan teacher in university was also from Barcelona. All of these factors helped grow her interest in the city.
Spanish classes in Barcelona
During her time in Barcelona, Erika enrolled in the intensive course (B2.2 level) meaning she came to the school 5 days a week, Monday to Friday, for 4 hours. Her Spanish lessons were divided into two parts where she studied with Thaïs for the first two hours and then with Txemi for the other half.
Erika loved that a lot of the class was discussion-based because speaking was always where she had the least opportunity to practice (and can often be the hardest). She was used to a lot of her past Spanish classes consisting of listening, writing and practicing phrases. Even when she studied at a university in Madrid, it was mostly just listening to her professors’ lectures. At Speakeasy it was different.
Erika especially loved presentations and discussions in her Spanish classes because she was able to learn a lot. Not just about Spanish and Catalan culture, but about her classmates’ cultures as well. She describes her class as pretty diverse and coincidentally one of her classmates was also from the Bay Area like her so they were able to bond over that.
Erika loved her classmates and teachers:
“every day was filled with laughter since we had a lot of strong personalities and we shared a similar sense of humor. I also loved how we would go out to eat together and hang out sometimes after class. In addition to loving my classmates, I loved my teachers as well. I think seeing them every day allowed us students and our teachers to get closer. I felt like they were very genuine and I really appreciated that we all were close enough to even joke around with our teachers.”
Activities in Barcelona
Because Erika began her classes right around when the global pandemic was beginning to reach its peak in Spain, she wasn’t able to attend any of the Speakeasy activities. She did, however, get to experience quite a number of things during her short stay. She went bouldering, attended Poblenou’s Llum Festival and even saw a flamenco tribute to Paco de Lucia at the stunning Palau de la Música Catalana. She also had a friend who was in the castell club at her university, so she went to her practices a couple of times and saw some performances in the Plaça de Sant Jaume during the Fiesta de Santa Eulàlia. And of course, she did the basic sightseeing like going to the Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell, Palau Güell and Arc de Triomf.
A day in the life
What did a typical day look like for Erika? In the mornings, she would walk to her Spanish class from her apartment -she lived within walking distance and loved the Universitat area. At the very beginning of class, they would share how they were doing or if anything eventful happened. Then, they started the curriculum which usually involved bookwork, partner work or discussions. Most of her morning class with Thaïs was grammar-based and there were occasional presentations. During the break, she would go down to the same cafe, maybe grab a pastry and gather outside with her classmates until class resumed again.
For the 3rd and 4th hour of class, the class had Txemi as their Spanish teacher. Here, they would delve deeper into what they learned in the first two hours:
“It often built off of it, like we took things a step further.”
After class if she didn’t have plans, she would either wander around and find a restaurant to eat lunch at, or go home and cook for herself. Erika has gotten used to the siesta during her study abroad program in Cádiz as well as with her host family in Madrid, so she would take a short nap in Barcelona too.
In the evenings, she would eat dinner and finish her homework. Then, she’d relax and go to sleep.
Each of our students experiences their Spanish classes in Barcelona differently. If you’re interested in learning more, don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions!