Dealing with foreign languages on the road
Dealing with foreign languages on the road can be difficult. When traveling with little to no knowledge of local languages, it’s important to pick up “hello”, “thank you”, and other basics. Below are various ways I manage to communicate more extensively.
Language from school
In Eastern Europe, a great many people speak German if they don’t have English. German is a relatively easy language to learn, as many words are similar to English, and is a valuable resource. Though sometimes it can be difficult to converse as both parties have broken German, it will help to have a basic grasp.
Clicks and whistles
When German fails, it’s down to a variety of hand signals and noises. Many conversations consist of pointing to things, whistling intently and making clicking noises (which, surprisingly, works well if you have a bit of ingenuity).
One past instance saw me pointing to my watch, spinning my hand anti-clockwise, pointing to various things and clicking my tongue. The Romanian gentleman who picked me up had absolutely no idea that I was attempting to explain what I had done the day before.
Sometimes, a driver simply has no way of communicating. It’s pleasant to sit in someone’s presence knowing you don’t have to push yourself towards strained conversation. Often, these rides are appreciated when the previous night’s sleep wasn’t great or you’re simply burnt out.
Talking to so many people while hitchhiking is fabulous, but it is important to savour relaxing moments. Look out the window for a while and take in the scenery. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to stop and take it all in.
It gets difficult
Sometimes, all we want is to walk into a shop, buy what we need, pass a comment about the weather and head about our business.
On tiring days it’s the small-talk, the light conversation, that I miss most when hitchhiking in foreign lands. While I wouldn’t trade my travels and experiences for the world – and I’m much wiser for embarking on them – it gets tiring having to constantly push yourself to engage in conversation when no one really knows what’s being said.
Take the good times with the bad times; the positives with the negatives. They are both equal teachers. You’ll appreciate it.
Sometimes travel gets exhausting, so here are my 5 tips for traveling alone that I always keep in mind when I’m on the road.