This was our second trip to La Coruña with the focus on a short, intense boost to language with classes and plenty of time with host families. Leaving almost snowbound Shropshire behind we had a good journey out, made a little more interesting by a young Spaniard standing up for himself on the flight accusing an unsuspecting air hostess of having trampled his civil liberties by asking him to sit down (not the kind of Spanish we were supposed to be learning!). Upon arrival, the welcome was effusive, setting the tone for what proved to be wonderfully generous hospitality on behalf of our hosts. Before long boys were tucking into their evening meals, hora española, with typical Galician dishes such as pulpo a la gallega, empanadas de bonito and other seafood dishes.
Sunday was spent with the hosts for the most part, full immersion with varying degrees of initial success! Speaking of immersion, it had also started raining, and it wouldn’t stop for the next five days, proving why this beautiful part of Spain is called España Verde. We met briefly at the ‘Domus’, comparing notes and learning about the history of man, DNA and how hard we could kick a football among other things!
We then got into a pattern of trips and small group oral lessons. We visited the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela, not looking quite at its best with the iconic Obradoiro façade gushing and dank like a waterfall, and many tourists dripping as they visited the reputed resting place of St James. The tour of La Coruña itself gave an idea of the significance of the place for France and England too, not to mention the Romans given that the seafront is dominated day and night by the ancient Torre de Hercules lighthouse. There was a chance too to visit the Riazor, stadium of Depor – the trophy cabinet not quite as bare as the club’s coffers. Sadly international football meant no home game, but we all enjoyed watching Spain’s crucial World Cup qualifying victory in France …
Elsewhere our At’lantik English host company set up a beginners’ surf class. Not ideal weather when the difference between getting wet from the Atlantic and from the heavens is hard to distinguish, but as throughout the trip our intrepid Salopians showed real spirit and gave it a go. One or two even looked like they knew what they were doing by the finish!
The key to success for this trip was the quality of the welcome by our host families. The boys gained a real sense of Galician / Spanish hospitality and most (if not all) now have open invitations to return in the future – these are contacts and beginnings of friendships that could last a lifetime with a little care. As well as expressing my gratitude to our Galician families, I should like to thank Ben Smith and his colleagues at At’lantik English for their personal touch and attention to detail, Mike Wright for organising at this end and, last but not least, all the boys for approaching the trip in exactly the right spirit thereby doing themselves and the School proud.