In September 2011, I took part in the programme “CAPS” (Conversation Assistant Programmes for Schools) run by Home to Home. The programme mainly placed English Assistants from native English speaking countries in Barcelona or towns within Catalonia.
By a mixture of chance and a preference for a slower pace of life, I was assigned a sleepy village called Castellciutat near the town of La Seu d’Urgell , in the Catalan Pryrenees! There is an old castle, Castell de Ciutat (Castle of the City), which gives its name to the village I was placed in. My location was in the province of Lleida and situated near to the small country of Andorra (known for its ski resorts and as a tax-haven!).
This trip was the first time I had flown on my own and the thought of living abroad for the first time and whilst living with a host family and teaching at a school was incredibly nerve wracking but also very exciting!
I arrived in Barcelona at a hostel to meet with the other Conversation Assistants and had an introduction to the programme before we all met with our host families to begin our new adventure! Families varied in age group with some children being very young, I was placed in a family with two daughters, one aged 16 ( Ester) and the other daughter aged 14 ( Laura).
I was greeted by teachers at the school in a mini bus to begin our long journey to my host family (3 hours!) The journey made for a good opportunity to practice foreign language skills – I didn’t speak any Spanish and they didn’t speak English! We muddled along somehow even with misinterpretations and misunderstandings and it certainly made window watching a whole lot more interesting! I shall never forget the outside countryside emerging from city life as we passed the hustle and bustle of city life for the tranquillity and simplicity of nature.
I arrived at my new family having not slept very well the night before ( late night in the hostel) and having had a long tiring journey in broken English but it was still thrilling to turn up being faced with another new change of faces.
My family were welcoming, empathetic and just a good ol’ natural and simple Catalan family with traditional values and good manners.
More to come…..