Virtual summer school arrived in the form of a notification ping. As we hesitantly crept towards summer, I had begun to worry for my precariously learnt Spanish. A lucky scroll through countless emails led me to a slightly buried email from the Study Abroad Department. A few weeks prior to this, I had missed a limited space opportunity on a Spanish course, so it did not take much thought when the perfect chance came in the form of a course with the University of Granada.
The entry examination day came with gnawing anxiety. My Spanish was fundamental at best and the idea of conversing without English seemed daunting. To my utter relief, it was very informal. The teacher appeared to be well accustomed to greeting beginner speakers and to my surprise, I had not used a word of English.
The course was designed with each individuals’ students’ capabilities in mind. This meant that, after taking an oral and written test, each student would be placed in a level corresponding to their command of the language. Our class was a small one, consisting of just two students, and when one of us could not make it, the absence was tangible. Peering into the screen at strangers it always intimidating, however, the unexpected and hasty transition into online study after the advent of Covid-19 had ensured that there was fluidity in the progress of the classes.
Studying in a virtual environment means that you are in charge of your learning environment. Without the last-minute runs to the bus stop and the early rising it can mean a more mindful and personalised environment is created.
The second week of the course found me in Istanbul and the noisy honking of cars became a regular background noise in our classes. At first, it felt as if the course itself was creating a chasm in the kegs of my newly found summer. However, the steady but thorough pacing meant that my rapidly improving Spanish was now a motivator despite some minor inconveniences. The course had come with more than just dry grammar. It had transported the culture and essence of Granada into an interactive and engaging package.
The last day of the course found me on a blisteringly hot day towards the end of July. I had now gained enough confidence to speak with more clarity and utilise more tenses, a feat that was impossible a mere three weeks ago. The teacher asked if we had any concerns before he left the video call. He was met with a content silence and a persistence car horn from the belly of Istanbul. In the month throughout the course, we had been flung headfirst into a virtual cultural exchange and we emerged with a taste of Granada and a firmer command of the elusive Spanish ‘C’.