10 things that happen to you in a country where you don’t speak the language

Here is my list of 10 things.

1. You don’t know what you’re buying at the supermarket. Sometimes, you can generally figure it out but other times, you either buy the wrong thing or something that you weren’t looking for.

2. You’re afraid a local will laugh at your silly question. I would suggest you ask anyway. Or end up lathering on body wash thinking that you’ve bought body cream.

3. You don’t know where you’re going. You have no idea which way is north or south, you swear your place of residence was around this corner and walking to main roads to see a street sign become routine.

3. Directions take 10x longer to figure out. Even if you do know where you’re going, the first time you take that route requires some research and memorization and even then, you may not make it without taking an extra 1/2hr detour.

4. You notice how many words you mispronounce with your ‘home’ accent. As an Australian, this is really noticeable due to us having our own special accent and our own set of words that no-one in the rest of the world uses.

5. You start to get upset or frustrated that you don’t know the local tongue and you stick out…..like a tourist.

6. Ordering food becomes challenging if there is only local language on the menu. Then you proceed to ask the waiter/waitress to translate every meal and its contents to you.

7. You are secretly on the look out for people who will ask you for directions and hope they don’t. Let’s be honest, you don’t even know where the street you’re on will take you.

8. You have mixed emotions when you over hear a conversation in your native language. Yes, I understand them and then No, i did not travel all this way to meet people from the same country as I.

9. You feel like a phoney when you start saying small phrases in the local language. Please do not engage in conversation with me because the extent of my knowledge of the local tongue does not extend past hello, good thank you and thank you.

10. You return home wanting to learn that local language. Then once you start, you come to realise that you don’t know anyone you can speak to on a daily basis to practise the language.

Do any of these happen to you too?

-S.

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