There is something beautiful [yet terrifying] of having someone come up to you and start blabbering away at you in a language that you completely don’t understand. I still have not found an eloquent way to react to those situations. I still find myself being somewhat awkward, not knowing when to interject [so as to not come off rude or incompetent]. I just kind of stand there and attempt to say “I’m so sorry, but do you speak English?” I’ll do my best to attempt at saying it in the native tounge, but as we have arrived in Germany, there is no hope for me.
“Sprechen sie Englisch” is the way to say “Do you speak English” in German. The tricky part is, that the “ech” portion of sprechen sounds like a strange throat-clearing pronunciation that I just cannot do. Not because I am unwilling–but incredibly unable! It somehow ends up sounding like a sneeze, meshed with a Spanish rolling “r” sort of thing–and it just isn’t pretty.
So, as we have been traveling, I have been super impressed by how many people speak incredible English as their second, third or even fourth language. It’s pretty inspiring to see how it is extremely second nature to so many people.
Sure, it is tough sometimes to not know how to really communicate everything with people, but overall we have been able to figure things out pretty well [thanks to the incredible amount of bilingual Europeans].
We arrived yesterday in Frankfurt, Germany and are again using AirBnB to stay with a sweet girl who is currently a student studying Business Admin. She is really cool and we had fun chatting and getting to know her. About 5 minutes into the conversation, she stopped and said, “Augh. I’m sorry. My English is SO bad.”
Dennis and I looked at each other thinking, “HUH!?” We understood everything perfectly that she was saying. She maybe stumbled over one or two words the whole conversation, but besides that, it was like we were just chatting normally with one of our friends.
She is a pretty impressive person, and is obviously very driven as she has been hunkered down in her room all day studying for her upcoming stats test!
That being said, the benefits of knowing a second language are pretty incredible. A research study published by the Canadian Psychological Association shows that knowing a second language can improve your happiness, memory and can even stall Alzheimer’s. That’s pretty amazing, not to mention all of the benefits in conducting business, travel and so many other things.
Knowing a second language–any language–would have been super helpful on this trip.
Yesterday, I was trying to get some mascara at a store and I had one of those moments where the worker started talking to me for 15 seconds in German while I stared blankly at him.
I said, “Sorry…Do you speak English.”
And he said, “Ah…no. How about French?”
GOSH DANG IT.
It would have been super cool to be able to banter away in French. I still am not really sure if I ended up buying the right thing…
Speaking of French, my BFF Gracie has been on a venture to learn French for grad school. She has been using Rosetta Stone as the tool to learn it. She had the COOLEST thing ever happen to her.
She was contacted by Rosetta Stone and was asked to be a part of a campaign they were doing. You need to read about it on her website, because she tells the story WAY better than me, but long story short, Rosetta Stone followed her around in Minneapolis filming her daily life and how she uses the tool for school, and then…flew her to PARIS [yes, the real Paris, France] to practice using French in a real-life setting! She and her husband got to go a few months ago!
Seriously, it was the coolest thing ever [makes sense, because she is the coolest person ever]. It’s pretty amazing that she is taking the challenge of a language straight on and just going for it. It’s obvious that she is already seeing the benefits from it! It truly is inspiring to see her working so hard at becoming bilingual, and being around others while abroad who really value knowing multiple languages.
[Side note–I’m sure you have heard of the the Love Lock bridge in Paris where people put a padlock on the bridge to “lock their love.” It is super cute and I love that idea. Well…we were walking across a bridge in Frankfurt today and there happen to be a bunch of padlocks on it. It is definitely not the official Parisian version, but I found this lock that said G + K and I knew I had to write about my best bud Gracie today 🙂 Miss that girl like crazy!]
It has been really cool to be immersed in other cultures and just listen to people speak. Dennis told me today that German has been his favorite to just listen to other talk. It really is quite unique!
Germany is incredibly beautiful and we really like it so far! I just need to keep working on my “clearing my throat” type of pronunciations and I’ll be good to go 🙂