The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.Oprah Winfrey
I was into tarot cards in junior high. My card was The Fool. This card can be first or last, the alpha and the omega, like an ace. The Fool’s superpower, not that tarot cards actually have superpowers, is just to put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes circumstances are favorable; sometimes, everything’s a mess. Either way, just keep going.
One foot in front of the other has gotten me through assorted crises and chaos. It got me the world’s slowest associate’s degree and into a fancy university with many study-abroad opportunities. I set my sights on a five-week program in Mexico City.
I feel like I’ve spent my whole life almost learning Spanish. I understand a lot, but there are usually words that I don’t get, and sometimes they aren’t the words that matter, but sometimes they are. It seems that five weeks of studying the Spanish language and Mexican culture while submersed in both ought to push me over the edge into fluency.
I have a cousin in Mexico who I miss dearly and I’m sure I could include a visit with him and his wife while I’m there. I also have a tía in central California who intends to speak to me in English, but whenever she gets excited, she starts speaking to me in rapid-fire fluent Spanish. She’s older, and if I interrupt her to ask her to switch back to English, she loses her train of thought. She is my only hope for learning the stories of that side of my family, and I don’t want my language shortcomings to be the barrier that prevents that.
Also, the Work Bestie teaches in Spanish sometimes, in Spain, in Mexico, and soon in California. My favorite teaching experience was something I didn’t even want to do. I was just administrative support for that workshop. I had not psyched myself up to public speaking at all. He’d taught me how to teach that module years before, but I don’t think I’d ever taught it in front of him before, let alone with him. Honestly, I was kinda sick of teaching that module, but his voice was going out on him.
I brought all the goofy dad jokes to the lesson plan. I love that I can make him laugh with the cheesiest nonsense. He’s so much better at the whiteboard than I am. But I brought in handouts to make up for that. He also has field experience that I don’t, though. The point is, I think that we teach really well together. We are alike enough to set a shared goal, and our differences are complementary.
If I can get myself fluent in Spanish and competent in the rest of what we teach, I can coteach with him more, here and abroad. So, I was fully committed to pursuing this five-week study abroad opportunity in Mexico City. I didn’t know how I’d fund it, but I can work miracles when there’s a fire under me.
And then there was Portugal. Portugal had a later deadline to apply and also a $5000 scholarship. It was a two-month program instead of five weeks. It was in a very different time zone. It wasn’t going to help me speak Spanish, not even a little bit, but it was funded. Funded makes a huge difference.
He denies it, but I tried to talk the Work Bestie into joining the Peace Corps after I graduate. He said he was tired of going to foreign countries just to work his butt off. He would rather go with free time and comfy accommodations. I reckoned if I spent two months on a different continent, in a country where I did not know the language, studying my butt off, it would probably scratch the same itch I’ve had for the Peace Corps for all these years. Yeah, going to Portugal felt like a good step toward becoming the best version of myself.
And do you feel scared? I doHoward Jones
But I won’t stop and falter
And if we threw it all away
Things can only get better
Things Can Only Get Better