Hello again – this is Dad Post # 2; I’m filling in for Angelina while she and Kevin are currently on a flight headed to Hong Kong. As you can see, she has a very small guest-blogger budget (I think it is zero); however, she did promise to give me an autograph when she makes it big in acting, and she also promised that she will pay me back for all the college tuition I spent (I must be dreaming).
Back In 2010, when I applied for the British Airways 100,000 Avios Chase Visa, I had aspirations of traveling to Europe, but the Euro was climbing steadily to about 1.20 to the dollar, and let’s not even get into the hefty fees associated with traveling to Europe on British Airways. I had to come up with Plan “B”. All guys have the Plan B, and if the Plan B fails, you scream like crazy. Not this time.
I love traveling to Europe, but I hate facing the fact that it has become too damn expensive. This is where Plan B comes in – finding another feasible continent to visit. After careful research, I came up with South America… but all those kidnapping stories, and eating “cuy”, which is guinea pig, (yes, the kind you had as a pet) turned me off. After getting over those things, I decided to give it a go. Next step: learn Spanish.
I’ll admit that I thought I had an advantage when it came to learning Spanish. You see, I speak Italian, and I egotistically I figured it would be somewhat similar. Boy, how wrong I was. Granted it was somewhat similar, but there was no way that speaking with my “Italian flair” was going to cut it. I had to find a way (on a budget) to quickly learn the language like a local.
I came across a free language-learning website called www.livemocha.com. The price was right (it matched Angelina’s guest-blogger budget), so I gave it a try. I was pleasantly surprised that it was exactly what I was looking for. In blogger language, it was like the Facebook of languages, connecting native speakers around the globe who were eagerly (and patiently) willing to teach, help, and correct along your journey.
From what I remember, I believe you can learn from a choice of 35+ languages, and it starts with basic beginner level courses, made for those who have little or no exposure to a language. You’ll soon be amazed by how quickly you build your vocabulary, learn common phrases, and eventually put sentences together, have conversations, and understand some.
My favorite feature is that after you complete the writing and speaking exercises, you then send it over to the native speakers, and they will help you with grammar, pronunciation and diction. I’m amazed by how many helpful friends from around the world I have met through Live Mocha. I find it satisfying that you can always reciprocate and help your “friends” learn English too. It’s like having a foreign exchange pen-pal at your fingertips.
After 3 months, I felt comfortable enough to have basic conversations in Spanish. I had native-speaker friends from Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela and Spain all helping me learn to read, write, and speak in Spanish. Aside from the language-learning benefits, I was also able to get great travel information from my new-found friends, many whom I still keep in touch with.
My friend from Spain encouraged me to come and explore the country, which made me confident enough to book a flight to Spain to try my new skills there. I traveled to Madrid, Seville, Granada, and Barcelona, and it was smooth as silk. Later in 2010, I took my first trip to South America, visiting Ecuador, and soon realized how much cheaper it was to travel to this continent, especially when given tips and advice from the locals. I still refuse to eat cuy though.
Happy Travels, Bon Voyage, Buon Viaggio, Buen Viaje,
More Dad Posts:
Dad’s Take on Valentine’s Day