How to Spend Your Summer | Leah Driscoll

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Looking for a cool way to spend your summer? Then look no further than one of the cheapest and most rewarding ways of doing so: language camps. Speaking from personal experience, taking part in a language camp can be a trip of a lifetime. Pueblo Ingles is just one of the many language camps would be more than delighted to make something great out of your summer break.

So, what do you actually do in a language camp like Pueblo Ingles? Well, the idea of these camps is total immersion into the English language for Spanish students, located in the simply epic setting of rural Spain. Think of the Gaeltacht here, minus céilís and the pissing rain. English-speaking volunteers (Anglos) apply from all over the world and are brought to these camps to hang out with Spaniards of the same age. You don’t speak a word of Spanish? Believe it or not, that is actually an advantage, as it means Spaniards must use English all of the time. They might even teach you a few words of Spanish! However, be warned – the Spaniards will probably have some fun with the fact that you have no idea what you’re saying. This happened to a friend of mine, who, instead of learning how to say ‘I love cheese’, spent two weeks telling Spaniards how much she loved ‘the prostitutes’.

Accommodation and food for the entire stay is provided free for Anglos. This means all you need to do is pay for your flights and, boom, you have two expense-free weeks in Spain! Most Pueblo Ingles camps rent an entire hotel for the duration, and rooms are shared with a fellow Spaniard of the same age and sex. The entire idea of the camp is to integrate Anglos and Spaniards, and so you sit next to Spaniards at meals, do group activities together, and have one to one talks for a few hours a day. Because of this, you probably need to be quite a chatty person and gain fluency in broken English. While the Spaniards’ English improves immensely, your English will slowly self-destruct as you learn to speak extremely slowly and strangely. Phrases like ‘Now? We go shop now?’ may be okay in Spain, but when you come home, it seems to others like you have taken a bad blow to the head.

There is really no better way to make new friends than a camp like this. Not only do you gain friends from all over Spain, but all over the world. This comes in especially handy if you plan on travelling, as you can call up old friends from camp and enjoy free accommodation all over America and Europe. You can return the favour by offering your house to them, and showing off your exotic friends to the pale freckly people here at home.

As well as making some enduring friendships, your CV gets a great boost too. As the programme is voluntary, you can make it seem like you didn’t go for the class weather and the mint Spanish boys, but instead you did it as an act of altruism. Anyone who is looking to become a teacher would most likely gain valuable experience from a language camp like this and gain a competitive edge when looking for teaching jobs.

The age limit for volunteers at Pueblo Ingles is set at about 19. Adult programmes are available, but would probably be more attractive to volunteers above thirty. However, if you are over 19 you can act as a counsellor and actually get paid to spend a summer in Spain. Do bear in mind that the job of a counsellor is a lot tougher than that of a volunteer, but if you have the enthusiasm and the patience, then it might be worth your while to try it. This is just one programme in one country, but this opportunity is available all over the world. If you feel like doing the same thing in Italy or Germany, then there is most likely a camp available – just look it up! Hand on heart, I can say that it was one of the most worthwhile experiences of my life, and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to fill their summer months. If you are interested, apply soon, as spaces fill up fast.

Buena suerte!

Further information about volunteering programmes can be found at Diverbo.com.