Life Hacks

How to Learn A Language: Date A Local

Delphine Zebouloun
January 16, 2024

The ultimate travel dream

We see it in the movies all the time...

The girl on the Vespa behind a sexy Italian man, zipping through cars...

Or the guy who "runs into" a lonely, but gorgeous, half-naked girl on some isolated beach in Nicaragua. 

Before you know it, they're making babies on a hammock.


Maybe this is your actual life...if it is I am happy for you. And yes, maybe even a little jealous.

But, for most people the dry-fit pants just don't come off that easily.

Regardless, I'm still not giving up on that fantasy.

Single in a foreign city

The greatest thing about dating in a foreign place, is that you improve your language skills rapidly

I am lucky enough to work as a trip leader for Under30Experiences. I get paid to travel the world and work with so many different locals: river-rafting guides, hiking guides, restaurant owners, bus drivers, farmers, etc. 

Needless to say, I've had plenty of opportunities to mingle with locals and completely immerse myself in their language.


I studied Spanish for 6 years in high school and college but never really had the chance to put it to practice. 

Costa Rica changed that. 

I fell in love with the locals, their culture, and their language all over again.

When I arrived in Costa Rica, I was really shy about speaking to people. 

But Ticos (Costa Ricans) are incredibly warm and welcoming. They are always so impressed to see a Gringa (obnoxious white girl like me) speak Spanish, and that helped me come out of my shell. 

Not to mention, some were too cute to pass up flirting with in a foreign language.


One lucky night, my life turned into a scene straight out of Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (this was during my time off from trip leading - please don’t fire me). 

I was staying a week in a tiny beach town called Montezuma, which is not the most romantic of places. I regularly thought guys were trying to flirt with me...but turns out they were just trying to sell me weed.

Anyway - it was Saturday, which meant salsa night was going down at the one and only bar in Montezuma: Chico's. 

My friends and I all decided to go out and embarrass ourselves in front of people who were literally born with rhythm in their bloodstream. 

Fast-forward an hour or so, I now have a couple of drinks in me and probably feeling a little too confident.

Everyone, me included, was so sweaty. SO SWEATY. This is not relevant to the story, I just wanted to give you some imagery.


I see the cute Tico across the room that I recognized while surfing earlier that day. Right away, I approach him and we start chatting in Español. 

I finally let go of my nerves and chatting turns into dancing all night. 

Next thing you know BOOM - I'm on the back of his shitty dirt bike and he is taking me to his favorite beach. 

Suddenly, Montezuma feels romantic. 


Fast forward: Three months later, I am fluent in Spanish.

Being forced to speak a new language in order to communicate with someone you're into is a surefire way to speed up the learning process.

There is no better way to learn a language than completely immersing yourself in it. What better way to immerse yourself than to date a local?


PS: upon reading this, I imagine my High School Spanish teacher is proud and horrified at the same time. You're welcome and I'm sorry.

Delphine Zebouloun
Delphine is trip leader and travel writer for Under30Experiences. A France native turned California girl, Delphine enjoys frolicking in nature, surfing, and chocolate croissants. Five years ago, she traveled to Costa Rica and fell in love with the country. She has lived there ever since, continually learning, exploring, and giving back to her new home.


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