By Allison Finney, MSU alum and world traveler
You remember that moment in High School, right? Sitting at your Trigonometry exam saying to yourself WHEN ELSE besides this moment will I ever need to find the Cosine again?
In high school I worked at Panera Bread in the Chicago suburbs where half of the employees at Panera were monolingual Spanish speakers. Although I took Spanish in school I had never said anything more than the answer to a question from my teacher.
One morning I cut my finger pretty bad. Marco, the dishwasher ran over shouting “que paso? Estas bien? Necesitas ayuda?” He started explaining the situation to the other Hispanic employees who quickly grabbed the first aid kit and addressed my new wound.
Once the chaos quieted and I got my senses back I thanked my quick-response crew: “muchisimas gracias a todos” in a semi-proficient accent. “Hablas espanol?!” They questioned. I guess the answer was YES! I DO speak Spanish! I had just never really tried before! I was completely shocked that something I was learning in school actually applied to my life – right then. I was hooked.
As a young 16-year-old I thought… what else am I missing out on? The more Spanish I learned, the more the world opened up to me. As an adult my fluency opened several doors: jobs, friendships and travel opportunities.
What’s funny about this crazy world though is that the more you are exposed to, you realize how much MORE there is out there and I couldn’t get enough.
Luckily I met someone just as passionate as I was about “seeing the world” and my, now, husband and I, before we were even engaged decided we were going to attempt some type of long-term travel.
We researched by reading various travel blogs and saw there were loads of people out doing more than just the American 2-week vacation. So, we planned and saved for over 2 years and bought a one-way ticket.
We were inspired because we saw other people were doing the same thing, so we too started WorldTraveler HD, a website that documents our experiences in the hope to inspire others to get out there and explore!
Looking back at it all, I know it was the little light bulb that went on that day in Panera when I was able to make that first connection in a foreign language that started it all and that learning Spanish was the key to unlocking my true passion for exploring the world.