One aspect of my job that I dislike is the lack of diversity in my work environment. Because we do work for the Department of Defense, everyone has to be a U.S. citizen. Whereas working in the semiconductor industry I had plenty of coworkers from Asia and Europe, here it's pure American.
Yesterday I met a couple of guys from Puerto Rico who work in the Speech and Language Processing group. I'd love to work for this group, but I couldn't even get an interview because I had no relevant experience. I told these men about my love for languages, to which they responded that they didn't actually do much with language, but it was mostly signal processing and pattern recognition. I said I knew that, but I just needed to be around different languages, and I'd heard nothing but English for the last four months. One of them said, "Oh, we can help you with that, if you want to learn a bit of Spanish." When I said I already knew Spanish, they told me about a Spanish conversation group that meets for lunch every Thursday and invited me on the spot.
It was one of the best times I've had in a while. I've been worried that I'll lose my Spanish without opportunities to practice, and spending an hour every week chatting with native speakers puts those fears to rest. Sorry, officemates...you'll have to do without me every Thursday from now on!