When I meet a Native spanish speaker and reveal to them that I can speak spanish, I find the reaction is a combination of both impressed and suprised. They will often ask “how do you know Spanish?”. I tell them that it is a hobby of mine. I have never been to a Spanish speaking country so I never had a practical need to know it. For the native spanish speakers here, is it rare that you meet a non-native speaker who knows your language?
In the U.S., it’s not rare for a non Latin American to learn Spanish. They are met with enthusiasm, but at least in my experience, I don’t think they really ask “How do you know Spanish” as Spanish schools are somewhat common here.
On the flip side, when I speak Russian, people ask me how I went about learning it, so I answer that I learned it while at university and just dabbled in it on my own.
Very many years ago a Russian programmer was hired and joined the team I worked in. While he was still in the orientation phase I praised his work with “молодец!” (well done!). His eyes bugged out and his jaw almost hit the floor. “You know Russian?!” But this was just the rusty remains of my high school Russian, well before I started it up again at Lingq, so I couldn’t really think about holding a conversation. It was useful, though, when he had questions, and I could point him to the relevant chapter of his Russian-language book on Unix.