Skip to main content
Message Font: Serif | Sans-Serif
 
No. of Recommendations: 2
A big part of my retirement has been about returning to my first love, Spanish. It was my favorite subject in school and I even won a trophy for being best Spanish student in my high school. That got me an all-expense-paid summer in Mexico on a sister-city student-exchange program. Unfortunately the teaching methods of that era (1965) were not geared toward speaking and understanding, but rather to grammar and reading. So I could barely communicate to my host family or anyone else, something I spent my working years wishing I could remedy. And unfortuantely when I went back to that same Mexican city a year ago for the first time since then, the sister-city program had just been discontinued the year before.

After a year of college Spanish I gave it up since back then the only thing you could do with a foreign language was teach, as far as my limited knowledge went, and I was not teacher material. If I had it to do over again, I'd take the academic route, studying Spanish and Portuguese, probably medieval literature and/or linguistics.

35 years later I wasted no time. I headed down to Costa Rica for a three-week immersion program just three months after retiring. Then I enrolled in the BA program in Spanish at the local university, interrupting my studies for a month in Guatemala and a month in Honduras. (Immersion programs are a very economical way to travel and study. It was $165/week for room and board with a family plus four hours of private lessons per day in Guatemala.) I graduated in 2003 and it was by far the most fun I ever had in college.

I also got certified as a medical interpreter at the local community college and for a couple of years volunteered doing that at a couple of free medical clinics and later took the H&R Block class and got state-certified to do taxes, so I could do more work with Spanish-speaking folks.

Since quitting work in 2000 I've been to Latin America nine times for a total of over seven months, mostly on my own, with DW coming down to join me for part of several trips. The most recent trip was a year ago with a cultural exchange group where folks from OR spent a month living with Costa Rican families in various parts of the country, after which we hosted a Costa Rican couple in our home for a week last September. That month cost less than $900 (plus air-fare) and I had a family of my own to practice with for hours every day. I'm planning another trip to CR soon to tutor English in a CR high school.

In the meantime I've started going to Spanish conversation meetups I found online and taking intro Portuguese.

Other than all that, I mainly devote myself to loafing.

--fleg
Print the post  

Announcements

What was Your Dumbest Investment?
Share it with us -- and learn from others' stories of flubs.
When Life Gives You Lemons
We all have had hardships and made poor decisions. The important thing is how we respond and grow. Read the story of a Fool who started from nothing, and looks to gain everything.
Contact Us
Contact Customer Service and other Fool departments here.
Work for Fools?
Winner of the Washingtonian great places to work, and Glassdoor #1 Company to Work For 2015! Have access to all of TMF's online and email products for FREE, and be paid for your contributions to TMF! Click the link and start your Fool career.