Keeping up with Spanish WITHOUT STUDYING: How not to Lose Your 2nd Language

Some of the following ideas were borrowed from Tim Ferris and his language posts. He goes into more detail there. I'm going to give the basics and my own thoughts and ideas on how to keep up with Spanish, though applicable to any 2nd language. 

Ever take a language class in school and 3 months later not remember anything? Yea that's common, and it's because most language classes in college and high-school suck. If you want to hold on to Spanish, whether you learned it from classes or traveling, and not lose your mind with boredom, read on. 

This is for those who already know the basics and have had some practice with the language. Some of the following will be specific to Spanish (Mexican population in US), but most of it is applicable to any language. If you are learning a language different than Spanish, you can find people in any big city who will want to learn languages, some sites to find a  language exchange - we are so lucky that so many want to learn English - or a focused language group:

In person:

Moutain Biking Down Cotopaxi: A Fearful, Fantastic Ride

Ecuador Journal Series
I wrote about my Ecuador study abroad, but have yet to post it. Since I am not traveling and have some time, I will post some of my best memories from that 2010 trip. This will make the blog chronologically erroneous and confuse the reader. Oh well.

This was my first brush with death since I arrived in Quito.

Hindsight it wasn't that bad, but at the time, riding a shitty bike down a steep volcano, gripping the handlebars with frozen fingers, dodging cars coming up the other way, and avoiding the crater-like ditches on either side of the winding dirt road, was terrifying.

It was my first time mountain biking and not a trip for beginners. After my 3rd fall, I realized it was just part of the game, picked up the bike, and started again. I was even able to enjoy it... after that first leg.


Earlier that Saturday morning, my classmates and I woke up early and met at the school for our first weekend trip of our new study abroad experience. The program directors decided to let us acclimate to the 9,200ft altitude of Quito by driving 14,500ft up Cotopaxi, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world, and then biking down.

Enron Guy Turned Petra Tourist Guide

People on the Road Series      
Many times, I've heard travelers say that it was the people that made their trip great. In this series, I will write about the more memorable characters that I was lucky to meet and learn from. Some I knew for only a few hours, others a week or longer. 
*I don't use real names.

Brady is the guy that Karen and I ran into here. He was wearing sunglasses when he first approached us so Karen didn't recognize him for a sec and gave him a "Who the fuck are you and why are you touching me look." He quickly took off his glasses.  

She had talked about him earlier. All I remembered was that he was a Jewish (Hebrew?) studies grad who wasn't Jewish.

Lesson Learned in Negotiating Part I.

I'm bad at negotiating. I get sweaty palms and a guilty conscious, like I'm committing a crime by asking for a better price. But living and traveling in South America, I have improved. 

Nobody ever taught me the basics of how to negotiate. I never went to a store or car dealer to see how my parents haggle. I never thought it was a necessary skill. 

Since traveling, I've learned that it can save you money when buying souvenirs at a market or when selling yourself to a landlord. Sometimes you win big, sometimes you win small, and sometimes not at all. But it adds up and is a skill that gives back 100s or 1000s over time. 

Ben From England

People on the Road Series      
Many times, I've heard travelers say that it was the people that made their trip great. In this series, I will write about the more memorable characters that I was lucky to meet and learn from. Some I knew for only a few hours, others a week or longer. 
*I don't use real names.

Ben was my classmate from England that I wrote about in the post School Week 2 and Banking during my CELTA days. His story was the banking part. Read it to get a background. I want to write more of his stories here. 


Part I.      My Experience

Things go wrong. I'm a worrier so I freak about things. I did this a lot when I was traveling alone, and here's usually how it played out:
There's a moment of panic, of not knowing what to do, of being scared. There are thoughts like: 
"What the fuck am I going to do?" 
"Why is this happening to me?"

In the beginning, I had these thoughts a lot. Whether it was losing something important, a bus leaving the border with my stuff on it, or a landlord canceling my contract giving me days to move out.

Free Restaurant Idea: Crepes & Waffles in the U.S.

Jumbo Shrimp in Yellow Curry and Spinach, Thai Chicken, Pepper Steak, French Connection, Mushroom Fondue, and over 40 other kinds of crepes. 

Crepes & Waffles was the most popular restaurant I found during my travels and a personal favorite. Opened in 1980 by two college students, Beatriz Fernández and Eduardo Macías, Crepes started Zona Rosa, the center of the ritzy restaurant and club scene of Bogota, Colombia. Now, it is an international chain with over 70 restaurants, most of them Colombia, in 7 Latin American countries and Spain.

Striking Back at Bogota Public Transportation

I don't know how it compares to other big cities because I know very few, but for some reason Bogota public transportation just sucks. 

Security in Developing Countries: Need a Culture Shock?

They take security much more seriously in Colombia and Ecuador than we do here. The only real culture shock I can remember was in Ecuador getting a sick feeling in my stomach when you going into a bank with a guard outside holding the biggest shotgun I've ever seen. Or walking past fully armed soldiers in a public square. Or driving by houses barricaded and wall tops of broken glasses. Like its a damn war zone. 

About Spain: 5 cool regions and other things

We talked much about the different regions of this cool country...  

Overall advice from J:      Do a road trip because the cities are so close, and be sure to visit Sevilla and Barcelona.