When I first got to Spain, I had a freshly minted English degree, and while I didn’t notice it at first, I missed the experience of reading interesting literature and getting to hear other people’s opinions on it. So when I saw a little advertisement in a library talking about a literature circle in English, I decided that it would be a priority to at least give it a shot. I emailed with one of the moderators of the group – having moderators seemed like a good sign of a thriving group – and vowed to arrive for the first meeting only a few weeks after I got off the plane.
After getting lost on the residential school campus where the meeting was held and seeing about seven black cats, I made my way to the cafeteria where they were meeting. I had gotten the texts for the month via the internet; all of the things the group reads are available online in some format so it’s easy for everyone to be on the same page.
I was surprised to discover that everyone but me was Spanish, despite having near-native levels of English conversation. We had a spirited discussion and I felt like I was listened to but not coddled. The group finished by discussing a play that they were going to go see together, and they encouraged me to join.
I’ve now been to three monthly meetings, and the things we’ve read range from Caribbean poetry to British short stories and everything in between. The amount of attendees ranges from 5 to 15, depending on the month, and recently the group abandoned the residential school campus in favor of the more central and easily located Café Comercial near Bilbao metro. Generally the meetings begin with conversation and drinks, and then naturally continue into the literary discussion.
If this particular group doesn’t seem like what you would want to check out, definitely visit a library near you, either in a university or even in your public library, and see if you can find a discussion group that reads English (or even Spanish) texts. If you are interested in this particular group, contact email@example.com for more information.
Guiri Guest Laura is a recently-arrived English Language and Culture Assistant. She graduated from university in the Spring and is exploring the options that Madrid has to offer for her varying interests in fiction writing, Spanish, teaching, and Journalism. She is from the United States and is still figuring out all the little things that Guiris have to master to become true expatriates in this city.