“Tarragona is one of Spain’s best-kept secrets. Do you want to help us to discover this secret?” These were the words in the description of Summer University (SU) “Mediterranean Language Paradise”, organised by AEGEE-Tarragona. As I was looking through other SU descriptions, I kept going back to this one, and I knew that my answer to this question was a big YES, so I applied (on the very last day), got accepted… and the rest is history.
No? There is still nothing in the books about this SU? Well, soon there will be something, I am sure. But if you want to find out right now what made this experience so special, keep reading.
We have a living room!
Because of my flight arrangements, I had to miss the first night and I arrived on the afternoon of the second day of the SU. I was nervous about meeting so many people at once, especially considering the fact they had already had a chance to bond the previous day. But as soon as I arrived and met up with the organisers, all my nervousness disappeared. The organisers were very friendly and welcoming, and when I saw our accommodation, my jaw dropped. Besides the fact that it was in central location, our accommodation was in nice apartments that consisted of a few bedrooms, bathrooms, and even a living room. Being a member of AEGEE, I am used to sleeping in all kinds of conditions – cold water, hard floor, freezing to death… So, this seemed like a five-star hotel to me. We were also treated to home-cooked meals by the lady who owns the apartments, which was very nice.
The theme of this SU was learning not only one, but two languages: Spanish and Catalan. Classes were dynamic and fun, so we learned through games and songs (note to universities: more “Waka Waka”, less heavy dictionaries, please!). I had only learned Spanish through hearing it on television before I arrived to this SU, but being in Spain, being surrounded by this language, and being encouraged to speak it in classes, I soon started speaking Spanish everywhere I went. Catalan was a bit harder, and while the organisers insisted it was very similar to Spanish, the participants tended to disagree. However, a few phrases did stay in my memory (I can now say “Bye” in Catalan).
Dinner with some gossip on the side, please!
Group spirit was quickly established, and before we knew it, we had our own inside jokes and shared so many great moments. Every evening, we would sit down to have dinner together, and it was served with a delicious side dish: reading all the juicy entries from our beloved gossip box. Some of us became friends, some became couples, and some became thieves (this is a story that deserves its own entry, but all I will say is that it involves guys wearing make up). It is hard to name all the best moments, as there were so many, but here are just a few: night-swimming after European Night; boat party where we pretended we were millionaires (except the fact we were drinking from plastic cups); Remullada – a water party in the old part of town where we got absolutely soaked with water and loved every minute of it; the hilarious introduction to Italian gestures, thanks to some Italian participants; laughing about the most bizarre things (murder is usually not funny), participating in a sangria workshop etc. etc.
Relax, you’re on Spanish time now!
Being a part of this SU, we got the chance to relax, get a nice tan, be on Spanish time, and see some stunning places. Tarragona is a charming city, full of history, nice beaches, and unique spirit. Except for Tarragona, we had the opportunity to see a few other cities in Catalunya. We visited Salou, which is known for its lively nightlife, as well as its proximity to Port Aventura theme park. So it is the kind of place where one can find families with kids and drunk partygoers walking the streets at the same time.
We also visited Barcelona, which is just a beautiful city, and it is easy to understand why it is so crowded with tourists. The participants had the chance to go on an intense bike tour through the city, which was an exhausting, but very much worthwhile experience. The city was very vibrant, colorful, and alive, full of wonderful things to see. One other place we got the chance to see was Cambrils, a lovely coastal town where we sailed away on our party boat, enjoyed some free drinks, good music, and a beautiful sunset.
Being a part of this SU was unforgettable, and participants are already planning a reunion somewhere. Even though it went by too quickly, the time we spent with AEGEE-Tarragona really did feel like paradise, as promised in the SU name. I would like to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to the organisers, because they did a wonderful job. It is said that travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer, and in this case I can certainly say that even though I came home with a half-empty wallet, I felt like a billionaire.
Written by Antonija Parat, AEGEE-Zadar
Photos by Zsófia Lehota, AEGEE-Budapest
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