My Spanish Obsession

My Spanish Obsession

We all know that there are some bad obsessions to have. In fact, the word obsession usually has a negative connotation. For example, it’s not a good idea to be obsessed over an ex who doesn’t think about you anymore. It’s not healthy to be consumed with having things you can’t afford. Addictions and compulsions haunt us all. But there are some positive obsessions – or passions – that can propel you to achieve admirable goals. My favorite obsession is learning Spanish.

At 25, I was obsessed with travel. I looked at a world map and concluded that Spanish would be the most useful language to learn. I felt I was starting a little late in life, but I was undeterred and dove enthusiastically into my new mission.

Antigua, Guatemala

I started taking a night Spanish class for beginners at a local community college in my small town in California, and my favorite radio station became Superestrella (Spanish rock). I sought out Spanish-speakers to befriend. I went to Europe on a backpacking trip and decided to stay in Valladolid, Spain for 6 months to intensively study Spanish. When I came back, I pursued a second Bachelor’s degree in Spanish while getting a Master’s in teaching English as a second language. Then I moved to Costa Rica to teach ESL for what I thought would be a year.

Manzanillo Beach, Costa Rica

I fell in love with Costa Rica – it became another obsession! – and I’m still here 12 years later. Now, thanks to my undying devotion for mastering Spanish, I own a language school in Liberia, Costa Rica, called Instituto Estelar Bilingüe. Being bilingual is essential for running a business in a foreign country! I wrote the Spanish textbooks for the immersion program and use Spanish every day at work.  At home, I speak Spanish with my husband, and my social life is mostly in español.

In front of my school with my husband, who is now Estelar’s General Manager.

I am always amazed at how much this obsession for Spanish has affected my personal journey. It opened doors in my professional life that I never imagined possible. In addition to starting my school, I started a non-profit organization five years ago with four other women called Club A, and I love making a difference in underpriviledged kids’ lives. I’ve met other people like me who let their Spanish obsession run wild, and now they are living happy, unconventional lives as globetrotters, business owners, and professionals. I have one friend who now provides scholarships for young people to study Spanish because of how it has positively impacted her life.

Volunteering at Club A

I now know that it is never too late to develop a passion for Spanish. In fact, I’ve seen many mature, 40+ learners in my Spanish immersion program. Spanish has provided them a hobby to fill their time, stretch their brains, and take them on new adventures. How far will Spanish take you?