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When I was in high school, I could choose between learning Spanish or French. I thought learning Spanish would be more useful because of our closer proximity to Mexico and other Spanish speaking countries. So, I started learning Spanish when I was 15 years old and took 3 years of it in high school. In college, I thought it would be amazing to go on a study abroad program. I chose to study in Barcelona, Spain, because of its Spanish program, music scene, and beautiful location.
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My Roommates Taught Me More Spanish Than My Study Abroad Program Ever Did
I didn’t learn much Spanish with the study abroad program, but I learned A LOT of Spanish over the summer. I stayed to do some volunteer work, living with 3 men from Spain, and practiced my Spanish every day, all day. The men I lived with turned out to be like my older brothers, and it’s thanks to them (and my mother for helping pay for it, of course!), for helping me to become nearly fluent in Spanish. They didn’t speak any English, and because of that, I was forced to practice the rudimentary Spanish that I did know.
Knowing Spanish Continues to Enrich My Life, Both at Home and Traveling
My study abroad program ended ~10 years ago, but the Spanish that I learned when I was there has stuck with me. It’s helped me interact with lots of people I wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to get to know, like this farmer in Costa Rica, who taught me very important life lessons.
I’ve also been able to befriend people in my own city that I probably wouldn’t meet otherwise. My Mexican friends brought me food when I was pregnant and after I had my baby. They regularly come to visit my daughter, including on her 1st birthday. If I couldn’t speak their language, I would have missed out on our friendship.
Do you speak a 2nd language? How has it helped you in your travels, or at home?