Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Not understanding a language while traveling

Traveling is a big part of my life. It’s all about exploring new places and getting to know new cultures. I also like languages a lot and of course they are always connected to traveling.

As a child I didn’t mind not understanding a language and not being able to answer or order something myself, because my parents did it for me. The older I got, the more I had to speak. Going to Germany or Austria was obviously no problem and France as well, because I started learning French, when I was 10. I kind of learned Italian from my grandparents, but was always too shy to speak. I then learned it at school and started speaking more. It was at least enough for ordering something at the restaurant. The same thing with English, once I learned it at school, I used it during my holidays. Over the years I grew more confident and I really have to say, it’s great to actually understand the spoken language and being able to reply and interact.

Understanding a language allows you to interact with the people and get in contact with them. You then have a great way of learning about their culture, tradition and places. It’s generally nice to understand the spoken languages, for menus, stores, directions etc. It always gives me a confident feeling and I have to kind of worry less. It also gives me this feeling of being home and slowly building a home away from home.

I have been to several places now though, where I wasn’t able to speak the language: Stockholm (Sweden), Riga (Latvia), Lisbon (Portugal), Budapest (Hungary), Turkey and some others. It’s weird not understanding a language, because you just don’t know what the people are talking about. I always like, when there are some words I can connect to a language I know. I always look at the language page in travel guides to learn the most important words and get used to them. That’s actually a lot of fun and being in these places, some words just stick. „Öl“ in Swedish means beer, it means oil in German ;). My fave Latvian word is „iela“, it’s the word for street. You start to notice certain terms and expressions and that’s very interesting. Whenever I come back from a holiday like that, I want to learn a new language, I wish I had the time to actually do it.

I’m aware that I’m really lucky with the amount of languages I speak, but in Switzerland it’s kind of normal, because we have four official languages. I was always very fascinated with them and learning a new language was never a problem for me.

What languages do you speak?

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