He is 80 years old, has suffered a heart attack and quadruple bypass, but on Monday this Spanish grandfather will head off to start a new semester as an Erasmus student in Italy.
Miguel Castillo, who is a father of three and grandfather of six, has leapt into the limelight after it emerged that he had won an Erasmus grant to pursue his studies at a university in Verona.
Years after retiring from a successful career as a notary, the octogenarian chose to resume his studies and enrolled in a history degree at Valencia University.
“It was a typical retirement,” he said in an interview with the Valencian newspaper Las Provincias. “I looked after the grandchildren, went for walks, played golf, but didn’t do much.”
Then at 75-years-old he suffered a heart attack and was given a quadruple heart bypass.
“On the road to recovery I told myself ‘I would like to do something beyond the classic napping’,” he explained.
So he enrolled for a degree in modern history and each day attends classes with students who are a quarter of his age.
On Monday, he joins the hundreds of students who won Erasmus study abroad grants to spend a semester at another university in Europe.
“I opted for Verona, in Italy because I was there 42 years ago to see Maria Callas perform,” said the opera buff.
Unlike other students though, he says he will not be staying in a college dorm.
“My wife is coming with me and we will stay in a hotel for a while and then move into an apartment,” he explained. “My wife says that she doesn’t see us at a pyjama party.”
Castillo said he gets on very well with other students who have become his friends and wants to inspire other elderly people not to be limited by their age.
“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.