Lauren Hannani staff writer
Spain, Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador.
These countries are only some of the places checked off on Spanish teacher Autumn Anderson’s travel list. Her all-time favorite, however, is Spain, one of the rare countries on her list that she has traveled to more times than she can remember.
Although she has now traveled to and around three continents, Andersen did not have the chance to leave her home in California until finishing high school. That changed when, as a Spanish major in college, Andersen was given the opportunity to travel abroad to Spain for a year.
“I don’t remember wanting to go to Spain in high school, but I always knew I wasn’t going to be happy just staying in one place and never doing anything,” Andersen said. “I always wanted to be out doing things, seeing things, experiencing things. I’ve always wanted to travel, but I don’t think I realized it right away. Going to college was when it really hit me that I could go out and do these things.”
Although she loved the language, Andersen wasn’t sure if she wanted to pursue a career teaching Spanish back then.
“When I think back to how I felt when I was in my twenties, I don’t know if I wanted to teach Spanish. I think I always knew I liked it and was really into it, and was a very good student in it,” Andersen said. “So it evolved as time went on. And my parents were both in education, so I always thought I’d somehow be involved in education, too.”
However, Andersen stayed in Spain for nearly two years during college and traveled back a year later to teach English to students there. While living in Spain, Andersen’s love for the language and the culture evolved, and soon led her to discover her passion for Spanish.
“I don’t think I ever wanted to leave Spain. I wanted to stay there,” Anderson said. “Spain was a really big turning point for me–that led me to the path that I’m on. If I hadn’t lived in Spain, I wouldn’t be teaching Spanish. I would be doing something else–I don’t even know what.”
Andersen’s experiences in Spain also changed some of her tastes and preferences.
“When people from Spain talk about things, I know exactly what they’re talking about. My cooking has also definitely been influenced by Spain and Argentina, too; I still make a lot of the dishes that I learned about from there. I’m a die-hard Mexican food fan,” Andersen said. “And I love all the different styles. There are so many different traditions within each country and culture, so I love trying all the different kinds of styles.”
As a result, no other place compares to Spain for Andersen–except maybe Disneyland.
“Spain is truly an amazing place. If you go there you can’t help but be inspired. I’m not trying to make it sound like Disneyland, but it really is a magical place. The culture, the food, the people,” Andersen said. “You can’t have those experiences and go far and not have it influence you in some way.”