So, I got pretty lucky with the timing of my Mexico trip, no? I made it home the second week of April, before swine flu hysteria reached a fever pitch. I also avoided a pretty powerful earthquake. Add a crazy (tragic) fire and spikes in headline-grabbing violence and it looks like the country just fell apart without me.
Fortunately, my Spanish isn't falling apart without Mexico. But the danger is there. I was fortunate to be able to spend as much time as I did in the capital taking classes and practicing with capitaleños, but coming back to San Francisco was when the real work began. Like anyone returning home after an immersion experience, it's imperative to keep up the learning process. San Francisco is obviously a better place than many others to keep practicing Spanish, and I benefit from having a Spanish-speaking boyfriend, but there are a few things I'm trying to do that anyone can do.
I can't imagine a middle-sized city or bigger that doesn't have a few language schools. San Francisco has several and I'm spending my Wednesday nights at Casa Hispana chatting about current events with a teacher and a handful of other Hispanophiles. The focus of this particular class is on talking rather than actually learning grammar or correcting mistakes, but the class provides a weekly focus for me. While I sprinkle Spanish-language music, podcasts and TV programs into my general media consumption throughout the week, I'm extra motivated to devote time to this stuff on Wednesdays.
Additionally, I'm trying to read more. I just can't get myself to check the newspapers of the hispanoparlante world regularly, but immediately after coming back I devoured a few copies of a really great Mexican linguistic magazine I picked up in el DF (Algarabía). I also just read the translation of The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which was great and relatively easy to get through since I had read the original work. I'm trying to follow this up by finishing a book I picked up in Madrid and couldn't, for whatever reason, get super far into last year.
So, I'm doing what I can, but I can't help but continue thinking that I'll never be satisfied until I reach the next level. And the reality is that reaching that level will require not just another prolonged trip to a Spaniah-speaking country, but a move with no specific return date in mind. With the big 3-0 on the not-too-distant horizon, those kinds of big steps become harder to take.