I decided I needed to do a surf camp, 5-7 days of surfing everyday. Then maybe, just maybe, I would finally improve my surfing skills. I did some research and although I was initially looking to do it in the UK I stumbled upon some courses in Spain. Perfecto! Better weather, better waves and a mini holiday. Plus I really want to learn Spanish so though I might be able to combine surf school with some Spanish lessons.
Due to lack of funds the Spanish lessons didn’t happen and I also didn’t have the time to brush up on my Spanish before my trip…both things I instantly regretted! I chose to book with Escuela de Surf La Curva in Loredo, Cantabria – Close to Santander. As it was May the school was very quiet and there was only one other girl and I staying at the Surf House taking lessons. The upside was that most of my lessons were 1 instructor to 2 students but it did mean when she left I was by myself so I didn’t do much outside of the classes (although all I actually wanted to do was sleep as I was so tired!).
I was supposed to have one of the English instructors but he was ill. So instead one of the Spanish instructors was told the night before he would have me in his class. This was his first class in English and he had been watching videos the night before trying to brush up on his English, just so he could teach me! This I really appreciated, but it also made me feel so ignorant for not making more of a effort to brush up on my Spanish and learn some basic words I would need for my surf classes. If I’d have through more about it I should have done this and asked for the classes in Spanish so I had to put in to practice what I had learnt.
Being English, most places I have traveled to it’s the common language people know. I think this has made me really complacent, and prevented me from really pushing myself to learn another language. I have never been anywhere I have struggled to communicate. This trip was different, or maybe I am different, more aware? I was so conscious of my lack of Spanish skills and how much everyone tried to communicate with me in English. I mean, the instructor stayed up late watching English videos so he could teach the class in English just for me, in his country! What probably should have happened was they should have given me a quick lesson in the Spanish words and instructions I needed to know like paddle, go, this one etc.
Doing something physical like surfing is the perfect thing to team up with learning a language, as it is so physical. When learning some of the positioning and the techniques out of the water it is very visual so it’s easy to link the movement with the word. The second day they whole class was taught in a larger group all in Spanish and I was able to follow along with 90% of it. Some of the safety instructions they went over with me after in English to make sure I understood.
While in the water instructions were given to me in both Spanish and English so I had to really pay attention. The instructors were all fantastic and so helpful. They went over and above to communicate with me, and I regret not making the same effort with them and insisting they speak to me in Spanish more. I’m planning on coming again for a week in September and I have already spoken to them about Spanish lessons in the afternoons. I’ve also found myself Spanish tutor at home who I’ll be taking lessons with.
I really can’t recommend taking this Surf School course at La Curva enough and would recommend it to travellers. If you don’t already know some basic Spanish do try and learn some before. Or even better speak to the school and team up your surf lessons with some Spanish lessons.
Photo credit goes to Meike Reijerman Photography
Claire Summers is a travel junky who juggles her travels between working full time as a Freelance Dancer and Project Coordinator. Claire is at her happiest when she has her hair down and her feet in the Ocean. Claire launched her travel blog Claire’s Itchy Feet in early 2016 to document her travels as a solo female traveler and help offer advice to others.
Have you ever challenged yourself abroad both physically and mentally? I personally would love to do a yoga retreat and I have already learned Spanish in Mexico on a separate occasion but I can't imagine both at the same time.