I don't particularly enjoy feeling dumb, but when I do it feels like I'm having an awakening. 

You're probably really confused right now so I shall explain. 

In Hungary, you speak Hungarian. Duh, I know. In France you speak French, in Spain, you speak Spanish, out of the three languages two share an alphabet and are rooted in Latin. Can you guess which two? Hungarian is certainly not one of the two, so it made communicating in Hungarian difficult and unlike anything I have experience before. 

We used hand gestures, my cheat sheet, the words we learned from our tour guide and a map. We definitely were those three American's who stopped abruptly at corners and looked up at the street signs with squished faces that blatantly showed our confusion. 

Feeling helpless and a little tonta (dumb) was a good thing though because it made me realize how lucky I am to know English and Spanish, two dominant languages. I also realized how self-absorbed the United States can be when it comes to speaking English and having things catered to us. It's nice to know that no matter where I go English will be underneath the native languages word, but it's not nice at the same time because you aren't challenged or forced to speak a different language. While on this trip I realized just how grateful I am for knowing two different languages. When I heard Spanish in France, I was comforted. Same for when I was in Budapest. In fact, when I came back to Madrid and all I heard was Spanish, I felt myself give a sigh of relief because I was home. Home, in a place where I still have trouble communicating but know that me being self-conscious and feeling a little slow is a good thing because it means I care. 

So, the next time you're in a foreign country where you don't speak the language remember how thankful you are for knowing one in which a large population of the world is beginning to learn when they start grade school.  And once you realize you are thankful, take a step out of your comfort zone and try speaking their language. You never know how far you may get, that's what I do everyday here in Madrid. I guess I'm challenging you, world. 



Leave a Reply.