I worked in the airline industry for 15 years, first at Braniff International Airlines, followed by Trans World Airlines. At Braniff, my facility with Spanish and Portuguese served me well as a flight attendant on flights to and from South America, making all in-flight announcements and handling U.S. customs documents. At TWA, I served as an airport supervisor in Dallas and Philadelphia, and was often called upon to translate for Spanish-speaking passengers.
A career change to the medical field followed. I was a manager of a hospital clinic and then became a writer and editor of patient accounting software for hospitals and other medical facilities. My knowledge of languages made my extensive travel much easier and enjoyable.
A foreign language was required as an undergraduate - I chose Spanish and fell in love with the language. I was also dating a classmate who was a Spanish major.
I have made many friends who are native speakers of Spanish. I studied for one year in Mexico, served two years in the U. S. Peace Corps in Panama, and have taught English immersion courses in Spain.
As a graduate student, close relationships developed between student and professor. UW had renowned professors in Spanish and Portuguese, notably professors Kasten and Singleton.
I travel to Panama and Spain to visit life long friends and continue to read material written in Spanish.
Living or working in the country of the language you are studying is a "must." Only then can you appreciate the culture and fully develop a knowledge of the language.