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Life Hacks

How to Learn A Language: Date A Local

Delphine Zebouloun
May 15, 2018

Single and trying to learn a new language? Maybe you should try this...

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.

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