Suzy, from Passavant-en-Argonne, Learns Spanish on the Paths of the Camino de Santiago
Today we bring you the latest chapter of our Babbel user portraits — a snapshot of users’ lives and experiences learning a new language. If you want to share your own story, let us know in the comments section below.
At 66 years old, Suzy has raised five children and is now a grandmother to nine. She is currently enjoying her retirement in Passavant-en-Argonne, a small village with a population of 220 in the Marne region of north-eastern France. When she’s not playing Scrabble and dominoes at the local seniors club, Suzy treks along country roads. Hiking is her greatest passion, and it’s this passion that led her to discover another: learning Spanish. She registered with Babbel on July 20th to learn the language of Cervantes, one month to the day before venturing out alone to explore the Spanish roads of the Camino de Santiago.
“I have always enjoyed trekking. I know the Camino de Santiago well. I went trekking along the paths there with my cousins in 2011. But this time I decided to go it alone, to trek without relying on anyone to organise the trip on my behalf. I told myself that I had to learn the basics of Spanish, or at least enough to get by. I registered with Babbel and learned Spanish every day for a month, until the eve of my departure to the Camino de Santiago. Every morning, I would complete a Spanish lesson, which I would then systematically review on my tablet in the evenings. After one month, I finished Beginner’s Course 1, and also had time to do some thematic courses to learn Spanish for daily life (which I thought would be useful for my trip). The result was immediately obvious: once in Spain, I realised that I had already acquired a level of proficiency that would allow me to learn more easily on the road. I practiced the language with fellow lodgers, with shop assistants… When I made mistakes, people corrected me, and thanks to that I learned new words that I didn’t know before. The trip motivated me to keep learning, and I continued to do a lesson a day after returning from Spain. I’m now on Beginner’s Course 3 and I’m completely hooked! I’m a true Spanish addict (laughs). My cousins visited me for a few days, and when I wasn’t able to complete any new lessons during this time, I realized that I missed it! I was glad to get back to it the following morning.
My experience on the roads was truly a pleasure, and I’m already planning on returning in April of next year. By then, my vocabulary will be richer. The charm of the Camino de Santiago is that there you meet people from across the globe. I met travelers from Quebec, Brazil, Texas, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Spain, Ireland, and even Japan. I hiked together with the trekkers from Quebec for ten days; you form a bond with each other, you lose contact, and then you see each other again — it’s such a beautiful way to meet people! It was a true cultural and linguistic journey.
To date, I’ve walked 2,500km in 94 days along the famous paths of the Camino de Santiago, but my real wish is that the road never ends; I want to keep trekking and keep learning, enjoying both for as long as I can. I still have many more kilometers ahead of me!”