Phrasebook French at it’s finest. I picked up a pocket phrasebook for the upcoming trip to France. While I studied French in high school and college I’ve forgotten the majority of what I once knew. My main goal when traveling abroad is to at least learn some of the language basics. Even a simple greeting goes a long way.
I think not knowing the language can be one of the barriers people put in place when it comes to exploring a new country. Don’t let this hinder you! Knowing the language will certainly make things easier but it’s not essential to a good vacation. And heaven forbid I learn enough to ask a question, I’m doomed as soon as they answer me!
In most major cities throughout Europe you will find quite a bit of English. However, don’t assume everyone speaks English. Be courteous and try their language, even if you need your phrasebook in hand.
It also seems that our country is one of the worst for travelers who don’t speak English. Our airports, subways, etc are almost exclusively in English. Thankfully there are symbols around but not many translations for those travelers from abroad. Luckily the rest of the world provides translations so finding your way is extremely easy.
For some reason we (e.g. Americans) expect everyone to speak our language in this country . . . and abroad! But the glorious purpose behind travel is to find something new. Experience something different. Culture. Food. Language.
Soon, you’ll find me wandering the cobbled lanes of Strasbourg, France with phrasebook in hand and enjoying every moment!