Many people dream of breaking out of their routine, breathing new airs, and immersing themselves in a completely unknown culture. However, what happens when traveler has their bags ready, but it seems that Spanish or French didn’t fit inside? Now, we’ll go through some ways to guarantee a great trip and navigate around potential difficulties when speaking the lingua franca just isn’t an option.
Learn the body language of the natives
Sometimes, not even English will serve you that well. The reason is that in certain places the number of people who are able to communicate in English is very small, such as in countries like China, Japan, or France, just to cite a few examples. In some Chinese cities, it’s difficult to find even professionals from the tourism sector with a good level of English, which makes it so that the traveler has to utilize alternatives such as non-verbal communication or body language in order to be understood. Because of this, a good tip is to watch some videos online about behavior or non-verbal language and observe how the locals usually ask for information with their hands or show that they don’t agree with something. The task seems simple at first glance, but it really is worth it to read a little about local customs to not confuse or be confused when you arrive and avoid unnecessary misunderstandings. An idea that usually works really well is to always carry a piece of paper of all your necessary information with you or an electronic device with access to the internet for urgent on-the-spot translations. If this all sounds very complicated, it’s recommended to check out preply.com. This platform brings together a number of language teachers from around the world that are able to help travelers with various tips.
Look for places close to home for your first international trip
Travel is usually synonymous with adventure. And this practice makes a good traveler. However, if you are still getting your sea legs on your first trip, it’s best to visit place with a culture and a language that aren’t so different from your own. Following this line of thought, if you are from the United States, destinations in Northern/Western Europe are very attractive because, besides the similarities in cultures, you’ll find the levels of English to be higher than than in other places. So, even if the American traveler doesn’t know how to speak the language of the country he or she is visiting, they’ll probably have less difficulties in communication than if they were in China, for example.
Whoever decides to visit a foreign country without mastery of a second language has to be aware that a good attitude when it comes to foreigners will be a huge benefit. Because of this, it’s necessary to leave your fear behind and not freeze up in front of strangers. These challenges shouldn’t be seen as barriers, but as a way to make your adventure even more interesting.
* Article written by Iana Fomina, made especially for Out of Your Comfort Zone. Translated from the original Portuguese into English by Nikki Elliott.
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