Before I lived in Madrid I made my first experience with an Intercambio at Café Madrid, near Metro Opera, in August 2010. I got a message from an Intercambio host over Couchsurfing to join their meeting and his message sounded tempting: “You can meet new people while having a drink and practice languages”. I didn’t speak nor understand Spanish by then, and it seemed a good opportunity to meet new people from Madrid who wanted to speak English. In daily life and at work it is quiet impossible here in Madrid. The way an Intercambio works is the following: you go to a bar where they organize an Intercambio and look for the host. This person normally speaks Spanish, English and sometimes even more languages. She or he will want to know which language you speak, and want to improve, and after knowing a bit your profile, will introduce you to some people who want to practice languages like you do. Once I ended up talking to four Spanish guys in German while I tried to communicate in Spanish in a room full of people. It is not always easy to start talking in a foreign language but if you master it with strangers in a noisy environment you can do it with your friends in quieter conditions. Every time it will become easier and you feel more secure in the foreign language.
After my experience more than one year ago I was pretty busy getting used to life in Madrid, starting working and learning Spanish, so that it took me till spring 2011 to go again to Intercambios. I went to an Irish Pub in Malasaña, “The Quiet Man“, and afterwards to J&J Books and Coffee, a Second Hand Bookstore with a bar, which organizes Intercambios and quiz nights near Metro Noviciado. For me Intercambios are a great opportunity to meet new people, practice languages and make friends. Especially for Spanish people, who normally do not have the possibility to speak and improve their English, it is perfect. At the moment many young Spaniards cannot find a job even though they are well-educated. They also cannot leave Spain to find a job in another country because of the missing language skills in English or other languages. For them an Intercambio is a great opportunity
Intercambio Nights are happening nearly every day of the week, and I started a series writing about the Best Intercambio Bars in Madrid.
Here a selection of the most famous ones I could find:
Monday: Moore’s Irish Pub (Metro Tribunal)
Tuesday: Carmencita Bar
Wednesday: J&J Books and Coffee, Café Madrid, The Quiet Man
Thursday: J&J Books and Coffee
Friday: Café Madrid
Sunday: The Quiet Man