If you go to the Forum on Friday’s from 6pm, you will hear a distinctively loud chatter emminating from Cafe Marzano.
Every Friday they meet up, the Spanish to practice their English and the English to practice their Spanish. Well that’s the pretext they use to meet, but it is much simpler than that. Most of them have left home for different reasons: work, education, to live in a different country or to simply improve their English, but all of them have one thing in common. They miss their homes.
Inma Asperilla has been living in Norfolk for almost two years. She used to work in Swaffham as a nanny and then moved to Norwich a year ago. “I started to come to the intercambio because I wanted to make friends here, I wanted to get out of where I lived, there was nothing to do there”.
Friendship is what drives most of them. Patricia Sanchez explains “it is very difficult to make friends with the English, at least here in Norwich. They will be nice to you but it is hard to establish a relationship with them.”
Every week before the meet up, Duncan Wallace (the main organizer of the language exchange, or intercambio in Spanish) posts a series of questions in English on their Facebook page for the Spanish to solve them. “I’ts the English teacher in me. I like putting out there the questions and to solve them with the group, it’s the perfect pretext to meet” For Duncan it has also meant to get new customers “I’m a private teacher. I teach both English and Spanish and I’ve met some of my customers here, but in all honesty I just started coming to the Forum to make friends. I had recently moved back from Spain and I want to meet people and socialize, Spanish tend to be more open”
The Spanish language is what drives them together. “We just want to have friends, we are away from home and this group does feel like a safety net for some of us” said Inma “We hang out together outside of the meet up. We travel together, go to concerts, shopping,some of us even live together. It’s like having a small piece of home here, it helps with the homesickness”
For some of the English people that attend the group, like Matt Stolworthy, it is a way to meet new people and possibilities. “My flatmate is Spanish and we’ve been living together for around two years. She had to drag me to come on a Friday. I must say I’m impressed. I like hanging out with them, they are loud, open and welcoming and I’ve met wonderful people that in any other circumstance I would have never met, besides, the girls are quite pretty” he says laughing.
Duncan, who organizes the meet up said, “Everyone is welcome. We don’t care who you are or where you are from. As long as you have an open mind and you are willing to be in a loud environment you are going to be fine”.
For more information head over to https://www.facebook.com/groups/32429264771/?fref=ts
If anyone wants to drop by the meetins are on Friday’s at 6pm and Sundays at 11am.