Alexandre Barbier is currently a shipping assistant in the Shipping Operations department. He has recently returned to Seychelles following a stay of 8 weeks’ abroad. He tells us of his experience:
On the 3rd of May early this year, I arrived in Spain for the first time. Not only was it my first time travelling on my own, but it was also my first time travelling to a country where the people did not speak a language that I could. Walking out of the airport, I made my way out to the arrivals area where a man from the school I would learn Spanish from was waiting for me.
My first memories of Spain were driving through the Spanish countryside to get to the little town of Salamanca. Soon after my arrival I went to purchase a SIM card. The fact that almost everyone there spoke exclusively
Spanish meant that this task was very daunting. Throughout my first 3 weeks I used a lot of sign language and if I had access to the internet, a translation program.
I made some great friends towards the end of my first week, a group of Brazilians and an Angolan. We went out to partake of the famous bar hopping Spain is well known for. The experience of the Spanish night life has stayed with me as the culture of Spain revolves around having a good time, meeting new peo- ple and of course eating the different dishes native to the country.
Trying out the dishes, I began with the familiar Paella, a Spanish dish well known throughout the world and eventually tried Arroz Negro, a version which uses calamari and it’s ink. Salamanca,is also regarded as the capital of the Jamón Ibérico, a cured ham made from the Black Iberian pig and is considered to be the best in the world.
Through these experiences of going out to the bars and trying out restaurants, I spoke to quite a few local people. Their welcoming smiles and desire to show a foreigner their culture made talking to them all the more easy. Even within my group of friends were a few Spaniards who had been sharing accommodations with people from my school. It was through speaking to the locals as well as my school mates on a constant basis that truly pushed my understanding of the language. There was also a lot of reading and listening which I did for the most part by visiting museums.
By the last week of my trip, I was speaking enough Spanish to hold a conversation. It was a bit strange to me seeing how I could barely ask for something when I just arrived. I left Spain in late June and made my way back home. I now practice the language on a daily basis with the Spanish representatives and sometimes with fellow colleagues. Also, I sometimes bump into people here who speak the language, so it has opened many new doors to me in the sense that it is now easier for me to meet people. In all, learning the language, experiencing the Spanish culture and meeting many new people has broadened my horizons and taught me a lot more than I initially thought I would.