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After surviving a heart attack, Miguel Castillo decided to make the most of his retirement.

Cailey Rizzo
February 17, 2018

An 81-year-old Spanish man is getting ready for a semester-long study abroad program in Italy. 

Miguel Castillo, a history student at the University of Valencia, will begin his semester abroad in Verona next week. He has enrolled in an Erasmus program (a study abroad “exchange” for Europeans).

He will move to Verona with his wife, Maria Luisa Alamá, a retired nurse, although they will not stay in a dorm with fellow students. “We will stay in a hotel for a while and then move into an apartment,” Castillo told the Valencian newspaper Las Provincias. “My wife says that she doesn’t see us at a pajama party.”

Related: 9 Steps to Get You Ready to Move Abroad

Castillo said he chose Verona after visiting the city 42 year ago to see Maria Callas perform.

He has returned to academia after a successful career as a notary. But he was inspired to take on his unconventional choice of retirement activity after suffering a heart attack when he was 75 years old. Castillo underwent quadruple bypass surgery and, afterwards, decided he didn’t want to spend retirement “napping.” He returned to his study, enrolling in a modern history program at the University of Valencia. He will participate in his semester abroad after receiving a grant from Erasmus.

Related: 17 Cute, Travel-themed School Supplies Every Study Abroad Student Needs

Castillo hopes his studying can encourage other retirees to seek adventure. “Don’t lock yourself up at home, open up to the world, because we can contribute so much and can also receive a lot from society,” he said.

Castillo is not the only octogenarian studying abroad. An 80-year-old Italian woman named Ruth also recently embarked on a study abroad program in Hawaii through EF Tours.

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