I never left! In 2005 I became the Department of Spanish & Portuguese's first professional academic advisor. I have worked with countless students since then, guiding them through their academic career.
Spanish had always come easily for me so it was a no-brainer when I got to college. At the time, the Spanish major required a second Romance language so I took Italian 201. It was taught by, to this day, one of my favorite instructors, Professor Tom Cravens. His passion for the language and the absolute joy with which he taught the class prompted me to continue learning Italian on my own.
I love being able to communicate with more of the world. I love the cultural understanding that oftentimes comes with learning another language. I love being able to read books, watch movies, or listen to music in the Spanish language and actually understand what is going on! As a mom, I love being able to teach my children another language.
You mean, aside from the professors being absolutely amazing? I loved the small class sizes. I loved getting to know the faculty early on and having them remember me a year later when I took another class with them. It was an experience I never expected at such a large university.
I use Spanish at least weekly in my current position. I get emails and calls from students or from people in the community looking for resources. The latter makes my whole day; I love knowing that the person I just helped might otherwise have gone without had the person who answered my phone not spoken Spanish. I use Spanish regularly at home; my children do not yet have a full grasp of the language so it is useful to be able to talk about things we do not want them knowing about in a language they cannot yet easily follow.
Don't lose it. Practice whenever you can. Study abroad if at all possible. Another language will open doors you never expected to open!