Unlike the US schools, we do not have a Spanish course or learn any foreign language at schools in India, especially in the small town where I studied. I grew up studying Hindi, English, and Sanskrit. I took a French language course during college, but a few classes and a French certificate was the farthest my foreign language aptitude took me to.
When I landed in Chile to teach English, I couldn’t even speak a few simple Spanish words coherently. I started living with a Chilean host mother who took upon herself to teach me the common Spanish phrases and words so we could communicate. Thus began my struggle of learning to speak Spanish in Chile.
I didn’t know then that the Spanish language would become one of my favorites, and also my third language.
Without trying to be melodramatic, I promise that if you start speaking even the most basic Spanish travel phrases when you are backpacking in South America, you would fall in love with this language; for Spanish is a passionate dialect. Spanish words and phrases cover almost every emotion; some of the feelings that can be described eloquently in Spanish are strangled by the lack of words in other languages I speak.