Traveling is one of the most rewarding activities we can do – it broadens our horizons, introduces us to cultures quite unlike our own, and leads to lifelong friendships with the people we encounter. However, the language barrier can often feel too difficult to overcome for prospective travelers. Some people will never follow through on their dream to see the world because of the fear of not being able to communicate in a country hundreds of miles from home. The language barrier can be tough to navigate, but with a little preparation, you can avoid some of the frustrations and embarrassment that can result from not knowing a language. Here are some of the things you should know before embarking to your destination.
A Little Goes a Long Way
First, it’s helpful to not set expectations too high for yourself before your trip. Rome wasn’t built in a day – and despite what YouTube might lead you to believe, most people can’t become fluent in a language in a month. But learning and memorizing set phrases goes a long way in a foreign country. Learn how to ask where the bathroom is, where a doctor might be if you fall ill – learn how to say please, thank you, hello, and good night. It may not seem like much, but you can get by pretty well with just these phrases alone – and the natives you meet will likely come away with a positive impression of your effort.
Learn and Use Gestures
Gesturing can often help where words fail, so using gestures can be a great way to communicate if you’re unsure of how to express what you want to say with words. Before visiting your destination, though, it’s worth doing a little bit of research, as there are many gestures that can be considered a faux pas depending on the country and culture. For example, it’s considered rude in many Asian cultures to point directly at someone. When all else fails, and you’re struggling to reach for your pocket dictionary, a good gesture can help you communicate with your listener.
Have Patience and Respect
Finally, have patience both for yourself as well as the person you’re trying to communicate with. The experience of trying to communicate with someone who doesn’t understand your language can be equal parts thrilling and challenging. It’s illogical to expect that every person you encounter on your travels will be fluent in English, or even that it will be easy to find a translator – so by dropping this expectation, having respect for the country you are a visitor in, and showing courtesy, you can communicate with anyone no matter how high the language barrier might seem.
Explore the World with AESU!
Are you ready to plan an adventure of a lifetime? AESU offers unique, thrilling travel programs for college students and young professionals at affordable rates. Each trip is action-packed and informal—designed just for people your own age. We are also able to design custom tours just for your group.
Experience an exhilarating adventure in 2023 on the Cosmopolitan, Great Escape, Greek Island Hopper tour, and more! 2023 tour dates are now available! If you have any questions or want help booking your next adventure, please contact AESU by calling 800-638-7640, or fill out the contact form found on our website. Follow AESU on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.