What I have studied is the following:
German: After my European bike trip in 1982 I was determined to learn a foriegn language. I picked German for some reason and studied that intensively for six months in 1983. I still retain some of it but never quite became fluent.
Spanish: After that, in 1989, when I took my Guatemala bike tirp I figured I better learn Spanish, so I bought some tapes and learned the basic basics, not much at all. I was lost over there. But I was determined, so in the Spring of 1992, finishing my first year of Business School, while strolling through the halls of campus I saw a notice: STUDY SPANISH IN ECUADOR. I called the number and decided to forget the summer job--I want to spend three months in Ecuador studying Spanish. So that's what I did.
It was brutal: a small room, a small table. A young Guatemalan girl about 18 years old sat across from me. She spoke zero English. We sat there seven hours a day, five days a week for 2 1/2 months. I was forced to concentrate and learn. By the time I got back home I had a splitting headache. But there was no respite since I was staying with an Ecuadoran family and they spoke no English either (see Travel/Ecuador pics.)
But after that summer I had the basics down. I continued to study Spanish in Mexico, Costa Rica and Argentina while I was working there when I left Colombia in 2001 I was nearly fluent.
Danish: Meanwhile, after leaving Ecuador in September 1992 I spent the next six months in Denmark. I decided while there to study Danish, which I did. But one class a week won't get you very far. I learned some vocabulary and pronunciation but that's about it. The pronunication was real tough.
Romanian: Next, I applied for and got a job in Romania through the business school. As was now my custom, I sought out a language teacher and began learning Romanian. I continued this when I returned to Romania in October 1995. When I finally left in April 1996 I was quite good, and could even pass for a Romanian on the subway.
French: While in Denmark I became friends with a remarkable French girl, Benedicte Lochen. I ended up visiting her family in Lyon and Paris several times and started studying French with her help. I was also helped by the fact that after graduating business school I could not find a job for 18 months. With all this time on my hands I actually became quite good in French. But use it or lose it: my French is fading due to lack of practice.
Portugese: I was sent to Sao Paolo, Brazil in 1999 for a consulting assignment. I was all excited about being there for several months so I bought a book and some tapes and learned the basic grammer, pronunication, vocabulary, etc. Unfortunately we did not get the work so after two weeks I was back home and never got the chance to really learn Portugese.
Chinese: This is my current challenge. I plan on taking a bicycle trip to China in 2006 so I am studying Chinese at the moment. Just getting the basics down but hope to be able to converse by the time I get there.