Neelam – Baden, June 10, 2016
I’ve always been fascinated with foreign cultures. When we moved to Europe 16 years ago, one of the best things I ever did for myself is to learn German full-time for about 2 years. And when I started to travel regularly in Europe, I finally understood the importance of language and culture when you travel.
Many people are daunted by new languages because they believe it will be too hard and they don’t want to be embarrassed in front of others. But you don’t have to be able to discuss philosophy or make a corporate presentation in a foreign tongue, you just have to know enough to be able to communicate. For example, just understanding certain words and phrases in German can help you in a German speaking country like Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Even you are able to say, “I’m sorry I don’t speak German”, helps immensely! Even understanding key words (like Help, Do Not Enter, Accident, Bread, Coffee, Pastries and Drinks :-)) can be very helpful. If you brush up on key words and phrases before traveling to a new country, you will save yourself time and money. Before traveling, try to learn to order certain food and ask basic directions. Even knowing small bits and pieces of a language can help you catch the right train and bus connections and navigate a new city with ease. Another aspect is the culture and acceptance – when I try to speak the language to someone, the persons face lights up with a smile and the engagement is immediate and the ice is broken.
One of the critical things about a new language is also how closely it is linked to the culture of the land. I always try to also imbibe the history, cuisine, customs and conventions. As said before, you don’t need to be fluent in a language, but it says a lot the traveler if you make the effort to learn a few phrases. It shows that you want to explore and experience and not just click photos to post on social media. Travel is all about the experiences and the activities there’s no better way to enhance them than through the language and culture.
What did you think of this conflux of language, culture and travel?
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