My day job has blessed me with a financial stability that I never would have dreamed about ten years ago. A way in which I’ve taken advantage of this financial stability is by traveling, especially internationally. In 2010 I went to Canada, in 2011 I went to Spain, Andorra and France, in 2012 I went to France and Luxembourg, in 2013 I went to Germany and in 2014 I went to Peru.
One thing that is very important to me in my travels is not being perceived as an obnoxious American tourist. The biggest part of that is putting forth the effort to learn the language spoken in the country I am visiting.
In 2010 I did not need to worry about this in Canada.
In 2011 I failed to put in much effort into my Spanish language lessons because I could rely on my husband. He is originally from Nicaragua and as a result Spanish is his first language. I knew I could rely on him to speak Spanish for me. That doesn’t mean I didn’t try to use the Spanish I had but I didn’t really try to expand my Spanish vocabulary before the trip.
Another reason I didn’t put much effort into Spanish before visiting Spain in 2011 was because I began writing my first book in January of 2011. I was too caught up in my writing renaissance to make language lessons I priority.
It was in 2012 that I really began to put effort into my language aspect of traveling. I took French from 7th grade through 11th grade when I was growing up and I always dreamed of going to France and speaking French. 2012 was my chance. In 2011 my husband and I had crossed over into France but other than finding a tiny littler market where I bought a bottle of wine and marmalade I didn’t really get to use my French. In January of 2012 I began to put tons of effort into relearning French. I worked on Rosetta Stone three or four hours every week. I listened to language lessons in the car and at the gym. Since my husband doesn’t speak French all of the language responsibility was on me. Although I would have liked to have done better my French did allow us to get around France with basic communication.
I also think the effort I put into learning French was appreciated by the French people. Never once did I experience arrogant French attitude that is so often associated with that country.
In 2013 the responsibility to learn German was again on me. I bought an audio book with basic German sayings and listened to it non-stop for a couple of month. Like with French it drove me a little crazy at times. I missed listening to music, especially when I was working out. But like with our trip to France my language efforts paid off when we arrived in Germany.
The basic words and phrases I learned allowed me to feel more comfortable and was, once again, appreciated by the German people. In a way I felt more accomplished at the end of our trip to Germany than at the end of our trip to France. I was expected to know French since I had studied it for five years. I knew nothing of Germany before early 2013 and the fact that I was able to do as well as I did served as a testament to my efforts.
Last year I went to Peru but without the benefit of having my husband along with me to bridge the language barrier. I traveled with my mother who doesn’t know any Spanish. So on top of training to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and was back at it with my language lessons. Two hours of Rosetta Stone each week was accompanied with language lessons on my I-pod which I listened to in the car and at the gym. Once again I was sick to death of my language lessons by the time my mom and I left for Peru. But once again I was grateful for the effort I put in.
During my time in Peru with my mom was able to do communicate in Spanish in a way I never thought possible even three years before in Spain.
My husband and I returning to Spain at the end of March; in fact eleven week from Friday we will be on our way. I know I could rely on him to speak Spanish like I did in 2011 but I don’t want to. That means my intensive language lessons begin again today. On my way home from work today I listened to my language lessons. It was like being reacquainted with an old friend. I know I’ll miss my music when I got to the gym but I also know that if I put the effort in I’ll get the results. I know the thrill I’ll get of being able to communicate in Spanish in Spain will be worth giving up music now.
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