As my time in Germany ended, I remember telling myself that I would absolutely have to make time for learning another language well- the benefits are so great! I narrowed my choices down to Spanish and Italian, for various reasons.
So now, as I am immersed in my new life as a graduate student (read: my time is only taken up by two classes), I decided to finally put my plan into action. I picked Spanish to be the next up on the long list of ones to learn because I have a small amount of knowledge in it from before (Mom speaks it, went to a Spanish-speaking church for a while, one semester of indpt study in high school, etc), the grammar is really quite simple (oh German, how impossible your der/die/das is to figure out for non-native speakers....), there are so many countries that use it, there's really no excuse for not at least trying to learn Spanish in the US these days, y es una lengua muy bonita!
I was also quite motivated by the fact that MIT offers an IAP Madrid Program where you learn Spanish II in Madrid with other MIT kids (IAP is the January term, where we don't have required classes, and are instead encouraged to pursue other interests we may have through a range of neat course offerings - art, music, sports, glass blowing, street fighting mathematics. Seriously.). I spent time preparing nervously for the language evaluation to get into the program, have been sitting in on a Spanish I class here to brush up as much as possible, even paid my money for the program already! All this preparation and excitement to see this beautiful city (plus free trip to Barcelona, and weekend travels to other cities), meet up with my Spanish exchange student friends from Germany, and just learn Spanish! (See the blog from last year's participants here: http://bailarencasadeltrompo.blogspot.com/ )
BUT THEN..........I spoke with the professors here about how much I need to have accomplished with my research by certain time points, and it was strongly recommended that I spend my IAP here, in the lab.....
After mulling it over, I have concluded that I should be a good student and give in to MIT having control over my life. I would have liked to delay this as long as possible, but I'm deciding to suck it up and focus on my studies. Looking back on this decision, I think I will be happy I made this choice.....I hope....
For future reference, if anyone out there is able to find me an opportunity to go to Spain before I become too old and tied down for world travels, I would love it :)
On the plus side, this means I can keep up with the fitness/running schedule that the frisbee team is doing over IAP and go on the GSC Ski Trip.
I just won't get to see this :(