I love traveling, but one of my greatest insecurities is trotting off to places where I do not speak the language. I mean, I always make the effort to learn a few important words - hello, goodbye, please, thank you, and coffee - but what happens when I want to talk about politics, art, or things that I don’t like on my sandwich? Throughout Latin America, I am a rockstar - constant compliments on my nearly accent free Spanish and amazement that I can fumble through Portuguese thanks to one class in college and a gaggle of Brazilian friends. But in other parts of the world? My southern smile and occasional winks are what carry my weight.
In some ways, I find not speaking the language incredibly limiting, terrifying, and frustrating. But in more ways, I embrace my inability to speak the language because it forces me to be creative, resourceful, and more outgoing than normal. When I am in a jam, in a place where I have the vocabulary of an 18-month old, I often impress myself with my ability to get what I need done and even pick up a friend or two.
So here’s to an amazing week in Paris. Looking forward to forming memories with smiles, gestures, and clunky Google translations.