“I’ll have the grilled chicken salad”.
“The… Grilled… Chicken… Salad.”
“Correct. Why did you say it like that?”
“Your accent is weird.”
This was the conversation I had in Berlin with a counter woman who must not hear much English. To be fair, compared to Europeans, I do talk different. Our language stops with no flow. German words have 25 letters and flows. English comes across robotic. To a European whose second, or even third language is English, it sounds different.
English was easy in Copenhagen. The mix was split between Danish and English. Munich was Oktoberfest so there were no language barriers. In Berlin, there were a few times when pointing was ideal. Amsterdam is excellent in terms of English speaking.
There is a sense of vulnerability when you are a foreigner. It’s not so much fitting in as it is “wanting” to fit in. If you have even one person who knows what to do, it relieves all the uncertainty. However, in a group where no one knows the native language, and they don’t speak English, it can get dicey.
A few examples were when Nikki was getting yelled out in a German museum for taking a picture with her phone which was a no-no. The man was asking her to delete the photos from her phone in German and that isn’t so easy to understand with no language. Lots of finger swiping by the employee.
We also had a little train ticket mishap where the German system may not be as smart as they think. It was our mistake, but the tickets don’t validate automatically which got us into a run in with the VBB officers. Jokes on them when you dispute the charges.
Lesson #5 – Knowing the language makes the trip better, but it is not insurmountable. Pointing and a smile will get you where you want to go.