Gone Away / Journeys

Mexico City Spanish Course

In January and February 2020, I spent four weeks studying at the Frida Spanish language school in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City, staying in the student residence on the top flor of the same building. I learned a lot while I was there, progressing from almost no Spanish to completion of the basic course. By the time I ready to came home, I was able to have simple conversations with locals.

Another hour to kill at the airport in Mexico City

Another hour to kill at the airport in Mexico City

— After nearly four weeks in Mexico City, I checked out of my room at 3 am in anticipation of my 6 am flight. I figured I’d need about 15 minutes to wait for an Uber, a half-hour for the ride to the airport, and another half-hour for check-in and security, putting me at the gate an hour before the 5:15 am boarding time — a comfortable cushion. Instead, it took two minutes for the Uber, 20 minutes for the ride, and less than ten minutes for check-in and security, putting me at the gate about 45 minutes earlier than planned.

Embracing the suck

— For the past four weeks, every Monday at 10 am, I’ve started a new level of Spanish classes here in Mexico City. Monday has typically been, for me, the hardest lesson of the week as my brain struggles to adjust. This Monday was the first week of lessons at the intermediate level, which was an even bigger jump than previous weeks. There were eight students in my class. Instead of starting the day with a grammar lesson, we dug right into a reading comprehension and discussion exercise.
First time for lucha libre in Mexico City

First time for lucha libre in Mexico City

— Seeing a lucha libre event was high on my to-do list for this trip to Mexico City. I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it was because I was fascinated by American-style professional wrestling when I was boy, leading to a desire to see how it’s done in Mexico. Maybe it was because I’d enjoyed the movie Nacho Libre more than I care to admit. Whatever the reason, by the end of my second week in Mexico City, I still hadn’t dragged myself over to the arena yet, even though the events are three times a week and less than a half-hour walk from where I’m staying.
Street food in Mexico City

Street food in Mexico City

— The first time I was in Mexico City, back in 2018, I had some pretty amazing food. However, I never got a chance to experience the street food for which Mexico City is so rightly famous. On this trip, I may have overcorrected. Lunchtime torta. I forget which meat I ordered. The chipotle Fritos were a personal touch I added when I got back to the house. Almost everywhere I’ve been in Mexico City, I’ve been intoxicated by the delightful smell of food cooking.
Two weeks of Spanish classes down, two weeks left in Mexico City

Two weeks of Spanish classes down, two weeks left in Mexico City

— I’m halfway through my four-week Spanish course in Mexico City, so I feel I’m in a position to review the first two weeks somewhat objectively. Honestly, I didn’t have a whole lot of information about the school before I signed up to come here. I’d seen the school’s website — which I wouldn’t expect to be entirely objective — and had seen a few positive reviews on TripAdvisor and Facebook — neither of which I trust much.
First day of Spanish classes in Mexico City

First day of Spanish classes in Mexico City

— I’m going to skip ahead a bit and give an update on my Spanish class. It is, after all, the main reason I’m here. My commute to class was simply to walk down four flights of stairs, so I left at 8:58 am and arrived a minute early to the 9 am registration. I had deferred taking a placement exam until day of arrival, so that was my first step. I looked at the exam questions with a blank stare for several minutes before realizing I was never going to write down anything if I kept trying to think of answers in English and then write them down in Spanish.