After his heart attack, Miguel Castillo decided to follow his passion and study History. Source: Shutterstock.

Retirement and a heart attack don’t sound like the normal combination of events that conspire to inspire someone to undertake a degree… But that’s exactly what propelled 81-year-old Miguel Castillo to pursue higher education.

The Spanish student is busying himself for his trip to Italy next week where he will tackle his first semester abroad, according to Travel and Leisure.

Castillo, who studies History at the University of Valencia in Spain, will travel to Verona to spend the academic term there through an Erasmus programme (a study abroad exchange programme in Europe).

Most international students don’t have to consider anyone else when making the decision to jet off to a new country but that is not the case for Castillo. The student will be taking his wife Maria, a retired nurse, along with him.

Castillo has decided to forgo student digs in favour of more private quarters for him and his wife.

“We will stay in a hotel for a while and then move into an apartment,” Castillo told Valencian newspaper Las Provincias. “My wife says that she doesn’t see us at a pyjama party.”

When asked why he chose Verona of all the cities in Europe, and indeed the world, he said he fell in love with it over 42 years ago when he visited as a tourist to see Maria Callas, an opera singer, perform.

Retired and aged 75, Castillo suffered a heart attack and underwent quadruple bypass surgery. The student said he didn’t want to spend his retirement “napping” so once recovered, decided to get out and do something with his time.

He encourages other retirees to use their time wisely and explore things which interest them.

“Don’t lock yourself up at home,” he said, “open up to the world, because we can contribute so much and can also receive a lot from society.”

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