One of the reasons I selected Lima as my exchange destination in the first place was to learn Spanish. Thus to me, it was not a problem that my home university required us to take the Intensive Universidad del Pacifico Spanish course before the start of the semester. 2 Weeks of Spanish, 6 hours a day: the perfect way to start your semester. The only problem was that there was not a lot of information available. The aim of this post is to change that: let’s go over all you need to know about the Universidad del Pacifico Spanish course.
Reasons to participate in the Spanish course
- You really do learn a lot of Spanish. The reason is that if you are in the advanced group, you are with people from all possible levels (even beginners). After a week we were already treating mandates and Subjuntivos. If your Spanish stops at burrito right now, these terms might not mean anything to you yet. But after the course, they will.
- It is a great way to get to know people. Our class counted 8 students, the early birds of Lima. Combining them with roommates, and some other people that arrived early, we were super connected and settled in the introduction week. Logically, because we had been in Peru for already a month by that time.
- You have time to travel. The reason is that the course starts early and between the end of the course and the introduction week, you have a good 2 weeks to discover Peru. We went to Máncora and learned to surf in the sun. Learning Spanish and surfing, check!
Some questions I had
Before I applied to the language course I had many questions and emailed them to the Exchange officer of UP. These were my questions with the answers I can now provide:
1. What is the exact starting and ending date of the intense Spanish course?
In 2018 we started on the 9thof July and ended at the 20th, whereas in 2017 the course was from the 17thtill the 28th. The exact dates were only communicated at the 3rd of April.
2. Where does the course take place?
Language Center of Universidad del Pacifico in Lima.
3. Are cultural activities included?
No, it is only purely a language course, but some cultural aspects are treated in the course combined with language.
4. What levels are available?
Hypothetically, there was a beginner and advanced course, but in the end, there was only one course combining all levels.
5. Is there a brochure with more information?
No, but below I try to tell you what I would have liked to read in it if it existed! Let’s start!
Intensive vs Semester Spanish Course
The Intensive Universidad del Pacifico Spanish Course
There are two versions of the Universidad del Pacifico Spanish Course. Firstly, there is an intense course that takes place before the semester starts. ‘Intense’ is indeed the right word, as in this course you have 6 hours of lessons a day for two weeks. After 3 hours you get a 2-hour break, which great to have lunch with your fellow students.
As said before, this language course starts well before the semester begins, but the exact dates became known quite late. In the end, I was the only one of my university who was able to join, because I arrived at the fourth of July and the course started the 9th (instead of at the 17thlike in 2017). These dates became known after everyone had booked their tickets, namely at the third of April. In case you arrive too late, you can also do a private course at for instance Peruwayna. Some friends did this instead and were very enthusiastic about it. The advantage is that you really are studying with people of the same level (see Teacher, Content, and Level)
The Intensive Universidad del Pacifico Spanish Course
The other UP language courses take place during the semester. There are two separate courses of 6 weeks. The first course started in August, the other in October but only if enough students apply. About 8 students participated in this course this year. You had class 4 days a week for 2 hours a day (in 2018 from 14:00 to 16:30).
TIP: The content of the intensive and semester courses is the same. So, if you have done the intense one, it would not be useful to do the other one.
Costs and Paying
All courses cost 450$ in 2018. This might sound expensive at first, but considering you have 60 hours of classes you only pay $7,50 per hour. That this is cheap compared to doing courses in Europe. Furthermore, you have about 20 million language buddies right outside your house, so a lot of opportunities to practice.
As you will most probably still be home when you subscribe to the intense Spanish course, you have to transfer the money. It is a bit of a waste, as transferring money to a different country means you have to pay a fee. If you are in Peru though (and you book the semester Spanish courses), you can deposit the money on the account of UP. Payment details will be provided by the international office once you apply.
During the July-December semester of 2018, the Universidad del Pacifico Spanish course took place at the language center of UP. This is about 5-10 minutes walking from the main UP buildings. It is a beautiful building with a nice courtyard where you can really enjoy the sun IF it comes out (only around October the sun starts shining again, but sometimes you are lucky). Next door you have Coffee Roads, the best place for coffee close to UP.
Level of the Universidad del Pacifico Spanish Course
In the case of the intensive Spanish course, there were supposed to be two different levels: beginner and intermediate. To put you in the right group, you had to do an online test. I applied for the intermediate class, as I arrived in Peru with an A1 level. With my 63% score (Heuj…) I was put in the intermediate class. In hindsight this was probably not because of my level, but because there was no beginner class.
Accordingly, we were all just put together and levels ranged a lot. We had a girl that had not done any Spanish before and a guy with a good B2 level. Me being in the middle had the advantage that I learned way more than I would have in an A2 class: we started at the basis but ended up doing some really advanced stuff.
The teacher managed to mix the material, such that everyone could follow along and learned a lot. She would take extra time with the beginners and give the more experienced students more difficult exercises. However in my opinion, for both people with a very low or very high level, going to a school that teaches your actual level would allow you to get more out of a course.
TIP: to get the most out of this course, arrive with some prior knowledge, but not too much (A1/A2?).
Teacher & Content
Next year, there might be another teacher, so I find it hard to say if it will be equally as good as ours. However, if you happen to get Yining, you are lucky. She was the teacher for both the Universidad del Pacifico Spanish courses in 2018 and she did an amazing job. The fun intermezzos she introduced made the long days a lot easier to complete. At the same time, this course definitely thought us a lot. These are some of the subjects we covered:
- Presente de indicativo (+irregulares)
- Preterito perfecto
… And so on!
Conclusion: Apply to the Universidad del Pacifico Spanish Course?
Are you doubting if you should take the language course or not? If you already have a little bit of prior knowledge, I would strongly recommend participating. Just make sure you arrive in Peru early enough. In case you are really a beginner or have already a lot of experience, you might prefer to do another, private language course. You might miss the advantage of getting to know people from exchange though.
With a course (at UP or private), you will be able to order your food and drinks, ask the way and just have a simple conversation by the time the semester does start. And really, that is such an advantage!! Especially when you want to travel to some remote places, like the Peruvian Jungle. Moreover, we got to travel before the semester started ánd got to know many people. One of the girls from my group is my best friend up until today, so no regrets from my side!
Questions left? Let us know in the comments!