I have worked as an IT professional at the University of Wisconsin, in a private business, and for the State of Wisconsin.
In the 1970s, there was a large group of Brazilian students at UW-Madison. They came from all over Brazil and shared their distinct regional cultural attributes with new friends in Madison. There was also a number of professors with strong links and special interest in Brazilian topics.
Portuguese has been an integral part of my everyday personal life since I first started studying it in 1979. Both of my children learned Portuguese before learning English—and they were raised in Madison.
I was motivated and fully enjoyed my Portuguese classes. My professors were always excellent. I still maintain contact with one of them.
I was involved in creating the Brazilian Association of Madison and I created the very first email group list (which still kind of exists as I very occassionally get a message via the current list). The Brazilian Association used to sponsor Carnaval and a lot of other cultural moments that kept the Brazilian community of Madison happy.
I now live in Brazil! Still, when I graduated, I had a pretty good command of the language.
You'll find the best motivation by immersing in the culture you are studying. You will always find that native speakers are pleased to help you learn their language.