On the Road with Alexis Steinkamp
One of my 2019 goals was to learn más español. I believe I succeeded! My friend Sharon had recommended Elefun Spanish School in Medellin, Colombia. Before leaving the states, I reserved an Airbnb nearby, took a placement test and planned to start classes the minute I arrived.
Disclaimer: I received my 7th week of afternoon classes for free in exchange for this honest review. All thoughts and opinions herein are my own and not influenced by the school or its teachers.
Choosing a school thousands of miles away has its challenges. Sharon had recommended Elefun, but I didn’t know if it would be a good fit for me. And, I was looking for something more than just language lessons. I was hoping for a place to meet people, make friends and find community. After all, I’ve been on the road for nearly two years. And, I was planning on staying in Medellin for … three months!
Elefun is a small, private school in a beautify renovated building in my favorite neighborhood—Laureles.
The nearly all-female staff is super friendly and after a few days, I began to feel like I had a family in Medellin. I registered for a week of afternoon classes 2-4 pm and started a much needed review. These photos were taken before and after I repeated a local phrase, Ave María Pues! These women are a brilliant and entertaining bunch!
Learning a language is not like riding a bike. Slowly, but surely my understanding of the grammar and my ability to communicate improved. Fluency? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Elefun offers four-hour morning classes (20 hours/week ~$180 US) two-hour afternoon classes (10 hours/week ~$90 US) and one-on-one coaching (by the hour ~$10 US/hour). Choosing afternoon was easy, I’m not a morning person and my brain starts to melt after two hours of another language. My average class size was 2.5 students, so I received plenty of personal attention. After three weeks, I decided to take a week off to visit Jardín. Then I went back for a week here, and a week there, with some coaching in between. Every Friday, I’d say to Eliana, Próxima semana Next week … and tell her my planes plans. Thank you Elefun for being so flexible.
Elefun is more than just classes. Every week a new schedule sits on the counter waiting for you to sign up for extra curricular outings Tuesday thru Friday. Usually, there are two dance classes, something sporty and a Friday field trip. These excursions are a great way to explore the city, experience the magnificent Metro (Tramvia and MetroCable), make new friends and practice Espanol. While I was studying, we toured Festival de las Luces, La Sierra, Parque Botero, Parque de las Luces, Moravia, Universidad de Antioquia and more!
Wednesday mornings Elefun hosts an outstanding, local food tasting. Qué rico! How delicious! More photos on Instagram.
And, there’s always coffee made especially for you with love by Yadi. She’s looking very serious in this photo! All this for $90 a week! Qué ganga! What a deal!
Elefun is in the Laureles neighborhood, well placed between Estadio (a free workout mecca—pools, tracks, courts and classes to keep you busy all day) and Primer Parque (some of the best thrifty grazing in Medellin—restaurants, bars, ice cream, vegan, vegetarian, sushi, whatever you want). Instagram posts include: Ocre Pan, Naturalia Café, SMASH Avocaderia.
I’m so glad that I didn’t choose a school in hilly, expensive and expat filled El Poblado. I prefer a hood that’s a bit more tranquillo calm. Sure, there are some extranjerosforeigners, but Laureles has tons of healthy restaurants, inexpensive accommodations and night life for everyone. Plus, it’s walkable, close to the Estadio Metro station and Laureles is FLAT! Thank you. Read this: Catalyst Weekly 7 Menus, then dive into menu del dia. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Grande sized thank you to the incredibly patient Elefun team who made me feel at home, including my hardworking teachers: Jennifer, Jessica, Christina and Carol, and the outstanding staff: Nathaly, Eliana, Yadi, Alejandro and Walter. And, a special shoutout to my fellow students who have become friends: Vicki, Corine, Ernie, Dennis and more.
Lots of memories. Walter likes to quote Pablo Neruda, Se sabe que el que vuelve no se fue. It’s well known that she who returns, never left. So … hope to see y’all next year!