Elin is a 25 year old, from Stockholm, Sweden, who quit her job as an HR assistant to enroll in an afternoon intensive Spanish course at AIL Madrid for two months, though she's already planning to extend her stay! With a bachelor's degree in social science focusing on social psychology, she's dreamed of a Spanish adventure since she finished school almost two years ago, “I actually thought about a year ago but then I got a job and it didn't really fit in my plans. So the timing wasn't right but I've been thinking about it for a long time. I think it opens up a lot of doors, especially with Spanish being such a big international language.”

But with a mother who is a Swedish diplomat, this is far from Elin's first time abroad: “My parents have lived in Mozambique, Vietnam (twice), Tanzania, Ethiopia, and they currently live in India. I feel like that experience shaped me into the person that I am today, and I think that's what inspired me to go on this trip: I knew I would get something out of it because I really feel like all these encounters with new environments, new people, and new things really develop you. And you can never stop developing!”

Elin Sweden

Intensive Course

Meet Elin!

The Importance of Spanish

When asked why she chose Spanish over another language she encountered on her many travels, Elin says: “I studied Spanish for four years, in middle school and junior high school, but that was 10 years ago. I've always felt like I wanted to take it up again because I like languages, and I speak English and Swedish fluently. And Spanish is so widely used in a lot of parts of the world that I see it as an investment in the future: I'm not really sure what I want to do in the future, I might do a masters or something but, no matter what I do, I feel like I will always be able to use my Spanish.”

Elin and AIL Madrid

“A year ago I was between jobs, so I looked up some schools and I contacted Don Quixote at first, but I didn't really get the response that I wanted. It didn't feel right and it didn't click for me, so I put the plans on the shelf and I got a job, but it's always been in the back of my mind. Then, when I was looking again, AIL has the chat function on the website and I spoke to Pablo. He's so nice; he responded the same day, really quickly, the answers he gave me were really professional.“

Regarding her courses, Elin is glad she elected to join the complete beginner class, despite her distant experience with Spanish, “the course is quite intense and we covered the stuff I've done before in the first few days, at least the stuff that I remembered. I also think the way you learn Spanish here is really lasting, so I'm happy that I got the grammar foundation from here.”

As to how the AIL methodology fits her learning style, Elin says, “In general, I would say I need a good balance in order to learn. I’m not a typical ‘type A’, but I’m still really ambitious about what I do and what I study. What they do here is a mixture of different ways of learning: listening activities, group activities, games, and also regular grammar and teaching. I think it’s really good for me, this variation of different things. It makes it more fun and I think learning should be fun, it makes me more motivated to continue.

Honestly I have nothing negative to say, and that may seem cliché, bit I’d say that I’m very please about my choice. I wouldn’t have chosen any other school, quite honestly. I think the intensive course really works because you actually learn a lot in a really short amount of time.”

But Elin’s love for her classes is due not only to the material, but also to her teacher Andrés: “He’s amazing; we’ve got the best teacher. I think he genuinely likes teaching and you can tell. Just judging by the teacher’s I’ve had in the past, you can tell who’s passionate about it and who’s just doing it because it’s a job, andAndrés ispassionate about it. He makes it fun, interactive, he asks us a lot o f questions to make us talk more, and I feel like he’s genuinely interested in our answers! He’s just a super positive person, and I walk away from the classes happy because there’s so much energy there. I can’t say enough good things about him.”

Her Community

As for her social life, both in and out of the academy, Elin has felt pleasantly surprised, saying, “I made some really good friends, and I didn't expect to make close friends but I have. We all have different reasons for coming here but one thing I think we all have in common is that most people wanted a change in their life somehow or they're working towards something, it's kind of inspiring being with others who are in this fun thing together.

When I've gone abroad before, I always went with my family. It was very sheltered and very secure, so this time I wanted to challenge myself a bit and I chose to stay in a shared flat. I'm really happy about my decision: I have lovely flat mates! I live close to Atocha, close to a few of the biggest museums: the Museo del Prado, Reina Sofia, and the Thyssen. And there's Retiro Park, so I really like it!

A large part of my life here is social. I hang out with my flatmates and classmates and we go out quite a lot. One thing that I like about Madrid is that the nightlife is really great here and it’s normal to go out and eat and stuff like that. So I spend most of my time hanging out with my new friends!

During my very first Noche de Copas (at AIL), we were at a place in La Latina and the drinks were quite strong. So we all got a bit tipsy and it was so much fun! That’s when I thought, ‘oh my god this is Spain’: Basically the nightlife here is crazy, it’s just like everyone says: they stay out until six in the morning, and it’s great! Even older people, you always see them out!

I feel like there’s a lot to do here. It’s easier to be social here; everyone’s open and keen to get to know other people. In Sweden, it’s really cold at the moment and the climate really affects people, so on the weekdays people don’t go out. They get home after work, do their chores, cook, and watch tv, but I find that here life is a bit more spontaneous.”

Elin in Madrid

As for Madrid itself, Elin feels she made the right choice without a doubt: “I thought this would be the best place to learn Spanish because I've heard that its “pure”, while other places have very strong accents and in Barcelona they speak a lot of Catalan. I chose Madrid because I wanted the best environment for learning Spanish: A lot of people here don't speak English very well, which is a really good thing because it means that you're forced to really speak Spanish. During the first few weeks we learned how to order food in restaurants and cafes and stuff, and it made such a big difference because after class you actually go and actually use the Spanish that you've learned. So it's also really motivating that you can apply what you learned in class to reality.”

And under the influence of her fellow Madrileños, Elin finds herself more than enjoying the Spanish mindset, “I think people here tend to enjoy life more: they take advantage of everyday. I know some people back home who just live for the weekend. They work a lot during the week and don’t do anything nice, and then only go out and do things on the weekends. But I feel like people here try to have fun every day.“

Elin's Final Recommendations

Finally, Elin has a little advice for potential students: “Do your research before you come here, compare your options. For example, the accommodation option: for me living in a shared flat is the best option because I like having a lot of independence but you can still hang out with your flat mates and be social, but for someone else it might be more convenient to live with a host family or a student dorm. So really do your research because it pays off in the end. I would also say, try to be active in as much as possible, take part in the activities and see what else there is to do in Madrid because there are a lot of events for foreigners etc. Make the most of it!”

Elin and the Future

“I'm here for two months, but I'm actually considering staying; I haven't made up my mind. Just being here, learning the language and actually using it around Madrid, is really motivating and makes me want to get even further!”