Welcome to the 5-Week Linguist Show. Today I want to talk about money and studying abroad. Studying abroad is one of my absolute favorite activities to learn a language. It’s travel, it’s eating, it’s connecting, it’s seeing places you’ve only dreamt about or read about.
I’ve made this happen for myself a few times. As a language student, it’s pretty essential. So I have degree in foreign languages, one of my degrees, and I have a master of arts in the teaching of languages. I had the opportunity to do that master’s degree in Spain, which was fantastic, and before then I studied abroad in Spain.
Studying for a degree, of course is different than studying abroad. And I’m not going to really get too much into the differences, because I think the big take away is that there are some great language schools all over the world in any country that you might want to travel abroad to, at least the ones of the most studied languages.
I want to tell you a little bit about how they work in very general terms, and then how to make that happen in a way that’s realistic for you as an adult.
Study abroad: private language schools
Some years ago, as I said, I studied abroad in Spain, and I discovered private language schools which I enjoyed in a way that I didn’t enjoy my work for my degree. I love school. I love books. I love reading. I’ve been a teacher most of my adult life, since my early 20s. I think I’m really well suited to the profession. I love learning. I love teaching. I love watching people’s skills grow. One of the things that’s been a real oxygen mask for me is my own learning.
So of course, when you study for a degree, there’s a lot of writing, there’s a lot of deadlines, and a lot of activities that are set by someone who is your teacher, of course. In a private language school, they tend to be structured for a few hours a day, so you might go to school in the morning for four hours, let’s say. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a private language school that was more than four hours. I studied at a couple of places in Madrid, that were not in my degree, one of them was Enforex, and the other one is a Swiss language school that’s closed, and they were outstanding. They had really high quality language classes. Enforex was quite good too.
But it tends to be two hours of “Grammar,” and it’s all taught in the target language, and two hours of conversation. You might have a different teacher, so you don’t have one teacher for four hours and they all switch off, and new classes tend to start every Monday, or every other Monday, depending on the size of the language school. You take a placement test that tends to be some grammar questions, maybe some reading, and then you have a conversation and you get placed in the right level. So it’s pretty intense.
Then you have the afternoon to either do your own thing, which is day trips, or go around the city, and you tend to also have activities that the school offers. So sometimes they might offer food tasting, or cooking classes, or art, for example, and they’re immersive and cultural. They’re really fabulous. Obviously, I’m very partial to all of this because I love languages, and I love learning and it’s my ideal summertime activity, but I think it’s a great vacation.
I’ve seen in my studies in private language schools, parents and children go together when they’ve got some time during the summer. You could live with a host family, which makes it an even better activity. And you can do these for as little as two weeks. So what a great vacation. You study for a few hours a day, your skills make huge progress, and then you get to be a tourist the rest of the time. To me, it’s ideal vacation. I do like the beach sometimes, but for the most part, this is how I like to spend my free time.
Study abroad: great escapes
A few years ago, I was having a really difficult period of life, as we all do. One of my closest friends got diagnosed with cancer and they didn’t even have to do a biopsy, and she was gone in less than a year after that. My mother was having major problems, and I live abroad, and didn’t have the finances to handle her needs. I had a house that suffered severe damage from Hurricane Harvey, not as severe as a lot of people, but for me it was devastating because it was a problem I had a really difficult time dealing with from while I was working abroad, which I need to work. I can’t just get up and quit my job. So, that was really difficult.
And my almost-marriage, person I lived with for three and a half years, things ended between us very suddenly. He moved back to France. His children needed him to go live there for reasons I won’t get into, but needless to say, that was the end of us. I was absolutely devastated.
I do find that productivity certainly helps. Not letting those things in our life, if we can, destroy our steps forward. But they still hurt. I really needed something to look forward to, and I decided to fulfill a life’s dream, which was studying in Paris, and I spent five weeks in Paris. I’m an adult. Living with a host nation family is great, but let’s face it, maybe a lot of us, I do, I want my own space. I don’t necessarily want to live in a room in a stranger’s home, even if it’s a great experience. I’ve done that before. I’ve done that before as a language student.
So I decided to get an Airbnb in the 2nd arrondissement. It was amazing. Paris was my home for five weeks. I took a five week language class at [foreign language 00:07:36], which is a very short walk from the [foreign language 00:07:40]. It was a great 20 minute walk every day and I had exactly the type of structure that I was talking about with the Spanish language schools where you can you go for really just four hours a day and you have one teacher for grammar and structure, and another teacher for conversation, and then they have workshops in the afternoon that you can attend or you can have your afternoon free. Then you’ve got weekends to do things like Versailles, or walk around Paris, or all these amazing day trips, and there’s certainly not a lack of things to do in Paris. It’s absolutely amazing.
Study abroad: finances
However, these things do cost money and I was really lucky, a few years ago, I took a course and I found an amazing resource and mentor, and her name is Farnoosh Torabi. She is the host of, I think one of the top podcasts. So I want to say she’s even in the top 10 podcasts. Amazing lady, super, super, super smart, super hard working, So Money Podcast, I believe it’s called, So Money with Farnoosh Torabi. She is a financial writer for Oprah.
She really inspired me to think about ways to live the life that I wanted now. Of course that’s not always easy, but I really liked her thinking outside the box. So if I envisioned myself having five weeks in Paris where the lifelong dream, a real boost for my morale, in the middle of one of the most difficult periods of my life, and I didn’t have the money. As I said, I had a parent who had financial needs that were beyond what I could handle, and, which is an entirely different story, that I needed to find a different way to be able to help her without devastating myself financially.
She opened me up to all of these ideas of side hustles. So I had been doing a bit of a side hustle, but not really. There’s all these different ways to earn money to do things like this. So tutoring more, taking on extra side jobs, teachers might work with something like VIP Kid. That could be a way that you can… You do a few lessons a week for half an hour, and you’ve got your money to go to Paris. One of the most helpful tips that she shared with me was about rewards and specifically about the Chase Sapphire Card. So cash back. So being able to essentially fund this trip with just putting some money aside and with rewards.
For full disclosure, one thing I was able to do is I live in Europe, so I was able to take the Eurostar, which can be very inexpensive if you’ve got flexibility in when you’re going to travel. So I was able to easily put the money aside for that, and side hustle and put money aside for that.
So I am working on my trip to Italy next year, and right now I am trying to plan on how to use credit card rewards to do that. So I’ve got 12 months and it is my intention to be in Italy a year from now, studying Italian for an intense five weeks.
Until next time.
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