If you haven't already known, I chose to study Spanish in high school for a number of reasons. I had exposure to it as a child and already recognized a few words when it was introduced to me in middle school. I took some French in middle school as well but I wasn't all that interested in it. It seemed like a confining and stiff language to me. Spanish truly seemed like a living, vibrant language. I grew up listening to some Caribbean and Latin artists and the music was always so upbeat and energetic. I also thought my future field trips in Spanish class would mean that we might go eat at a Hispanic restaurant!! I mean who could pass up Mexican food especially when the school paid for it sometimes? haha Well, Spanish was my first experience with learning a language but it was just the beginning of my linguistic journey.
I took 4 years in HS and 4.5 years in college. I've been to Mexico and I've studied in Spain. I've taken the language beyond the classroom and used it to live my life. To grow and change. To talk and get to know people I wouldn't have met otherwise had I not known how to speak their language. I think when you reach that point in your learning, you begin to see that it's not just about memorizing the words on a page or the lyrics to a song. It's about learning a new way to live your life. How to see things from another person's perspective. To challenge yourself and see what you're made of.
I'm not quite finished with the Spanish language just yet (and I never will be to be honest) but I'll let you in a little secret: I want to know and speak 5 languages fluently in my lifetime. I've been tinkering around with Portuguese for the past couple of years but now I want to get serious and starting studying the grammar and leaning vocabulary. Eventually, I will either find a conversation partner here or take another trip back to Portugal or venture down to Brasil. Whichever way I decide to begin practicing it, I will be incorporating it into my life. I haven't officially decided on my 5th language but I know what I want my 4th one to be: Arabic. Ever since I went to Morocco three years ago, I have been a bit obsessed with the culture and its language. Even spending time in both Southwestern and Southeastern Spain where there is a heavy Arab influence has only made me more curious about the language. I'm not certain how I can incorporate Arabic into my life and future goals but I still want to learn it!
For my 5th language I'm considering learning Japanese or German - because these two languages are so similar to one another, right? ;-) I hope my friend Anita is reading this because she has a little something to do with my interest in German. I learned a little bit of Japanese when I was younger and have always been fascinated with their culture as well. I may add one, both or none of these two languages to my repertoire. I don't know at this point!
What I do know is that I will never stop learning, exploring and gaining new experiences through languages, whether I speak them or not! Life is too short to put limits on anything -especially learning. :-)