An interview with a student from Caxton College
We interviewed Maciej Suszczynski, an ex pupil of several years of Spanish Summer Courses at Caxton College, and now a course assistant.
Maciej, for four years you came from Poland to Caxton College’s summer course as a pupil to learn Spanish. Now, as a holder of the C2 Certificate of Spanish as a Foreign Language, you come to work as an assistant on the same summer course. What made you want to study Spanish?
Football. From a young age I was a big Spanish football fan, especially Real Madrid and Valencia. My parents realised that they could take advantage of my love of Spanish football to get me to learn the Spanish language, so they started sending me to the Spanish Summer Course at Caxton College.
What memories do you have of your summers as a pupil at Caxton College?
I have great memories of those summers. The first year I came to Caxton College, it was very different from everything that I was used to, and everything fascinated me: the people, the customs, the weather, the food…. The very first day I arrived, Ramón, an employee at the school, told me, “In a few weeks, you’ll start to speak Spanish.” After two weeks—although my arms hurt from so much gesticulating while trying to express myself—it was true that I could communicate. I also have fond memories of the football workshops with Carlos Martínez. At the start of the class we had a special training session and then we had the League of Champions, so I felt like a professional player. The first day of the workshop, I was wearing a Real Madrid shirt and Carlos said, as a joke, “You’re not going to play with that shirt!” That was how our relationship began. We spent hours talking about football and when I began to work as an assistant in the Spanish Summer Course, we always tried to find time to eat lunch together in order to talk about the new signings. Carlos was the one who took me to my first Valencia football match.
While a student, what was the experience of staying with a host family like? Do you think this helped you to improve your level of Spanish?
The truth is that this is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Now I usually say that I have two families: one in Poland, that I spend the year with; and one in Spain, that I spend the summer with. I can’t imagine life without both of my families. My Spanish family usually calls me their adopted son and brother. With María Jesús, my host mother, I can talk about anything, and if I have a problem, she always tries to help me any way she can. With Ángel, I laugh so much that I cry. And I get on very well with Natalia and Sofía. At night time, when none of us feel like going to sleep, we spend hours and hours talking. I have learnt a lot from them, and I am still learning. They have forbidden me to get married until they have enough money saved to come to my wedding in Poland. What’s clear is that if you have a good relationship with your host family, you learn very fast. Now Natalia and Sofía are teaching me Valencian!
What do you think about the Spanish as a Foreign Language teachers and teaching methods at Caxton College?
There really isn’t a better way to learn a language. Here you learn all the time without even noticing it: at school, at home with the host family, during the trips on Saturdays, playing football…. Since you don’t have homework and don’t have to study for exams, it doesn’t seem like you’re at school; but every year I was able to improve my level of Spanish and two years ago, I got my level C2 certificate from the Instituto Cervantes.
What do you think of the international atmosphere at the school?
Without a doubt, its international atmosphere is one of Caxton College’s strong points. Over the past seven years, I have met students from Brazil, Serbia, North Korea, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia, the United States and many other countries. Although it’s not the same as travelling to these countries, I have had the opportunity to learn a bit more about their customs and traditions, which is very enriching. Also, many of the employees at the school are foreign, so the school’s international atmosphere is not just created by the pupils, but also by the people who work here.
These days you come to the school as an assistant for the Spanish summer course. How would you describe your duties?
Mainly I am in charge of organising the trip for the Polish students who come with me, and once we have arrived, I help them to settle into the summer course and their host families. Also, while I am at Caxton College, I am in contact with the Polish students’ parents and I coordinate preparation of the students’ reports. I also help in the Boarding Department to organise and supervise the other boarding students’ stays at Caxton College.
During the rest of the year, you contribute by promoting Caxton College’s boarding programmes in Poland. What are your duties in this regard?
My job is to contact people who are interested in sending their children to Caxton College. I organise meetings with the parents in order to explain how the school works and tell them about my personal experience. This year, for the first time, I attended an educational fair in Warsaw on the school’s behalf. I enjoy informing people in my country about Caxton College.
If you had to summarise your experience at Caxton College over all these years in one sentence, what would it be?
Caxton College has had an enormous influence on my life.
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