My Biggest Language Barrier Experience

Sometimes, expectations are inevitable. I try not to have expectations when traveling because I do not want to end up disappointed if they are not met. I didn’t have any expectations when coming to Madrid and ended up loving it. However, deep down we might have some kind of expectation whether we like it or not, whether big or small. Two weeks ago, I was in Rome, Italy and I experienced something that I did not expect: a language barrier.

Yes, I was in Italy and Italian is spoken there. However, I have realized that I can get around touristy areas in Spain and Portugal using English only if I wanted to. I didn’t think Rome would be any different, seeing that it is a huge tourist destination. It was so interesting walking through the city that weekend with my roommate and trying to communicate with people. First of all, they would just look at us and speak to us in Italian, not something that normally happens to me elsewhere. When we would ask for directions, we would start in Spanish, seeing that it is closer to Italian than English is. Most of the time, the responses we got were that they did not understand us, so then we would try English. Some people spoke English very well but there were quite a few who spoke very broken English or did not speak it at all. It took me by surprise, being in such a touristy area. This has by far been my biggest language barrier experience, which is why I am such a language-learning advocate. It makes traveling to other countries so much easier and gives you a better experience.

This past weekend, I visited Morocco. Arabic is the number one spoken language there, but everybody I came in contact with spoke French, Spanish, and English. I had no problem talking to anyone in any of the three. It was really cool! Check out my video from Morocco to see where I went and what I did!


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