Some people might think that a town where the local dialect spoken is native to another country wouldn’t be the best place to learn a language. But for those who don’t know, each region of Italy has its own dialect significantly different to the next. Some are so different that even other Italians do not understand. However as Italian is spoken throughout the country and taught in all schools, wherever you choose to study you can be sure that you will be understood.
Alghero is one of the main tourist destinations in the north west of the island of Sardinia and for good reason. It has an attractive historic centre with fantastic views from the old town walls out across the Mediterranean. It is also within reach of some of the most incredible beaches this side of the Caribbean. But if you do as I did and choose to go at the end of September, after one of the hottest and driest summers in recent years, you will find out that going to Sardinia doesn’t always mean sun and sand. It can also mean drizzle and showers. Something which the English understand very well.
I spent my mornings in class studying hard, and my afternoons on the beach looking at the grey clouds loom overhead wondering how much longer I had to work on my tan. I think it was the first time I’ve ever been on a beach with an umbrella in my bag.
Fortunately I was there to learn the language as well and the school was fantastic. There were only 3 rooms and a patio where lessons also took place when the sun was shining. Being in such a small school meant that the classes were small too which was perfect for conversation and having the opportunity to ask questions to the teachers. However my favourite lesson had to be when we were taken to the local market and discussed recipes with the old ladies working there. They loved chatting and explaining everything to us (plus they gave us a great discount).
One of the best parts of the holiday was staying in a shared apartment. It was the first time I had shared a house with anyone since playing drinking games until dawn and waking up next to half eaten burgers at university. This time I behaved a little better and enjoyed sharing a coffee in the morning with my fellow housemates without the added complication of a throbbing headache. Good job too as from the moment I woke up I had to speak Italian, something my dehydrated brain cells would have found much too difficult a task to do a decent standard.
Overall I must say that my first language holiday abroad was a complete success. I discovered the beautiful town of Alghero, I met other students from all over Europe and my Italian improved. It’s just a shame that my tan didn’t.