Everyone I've met, except the one other American girl I've seen, speaks two if not three languages. And while they are traveling, they are constantly speaking in their second tongue with other travelers who also are speaking in their second tongue. Makes me feel pretty useless and uneducated. That is why I try to learn at least hello, goodbye, thank you, how are you and the numbers 1-10 in each country I go to. 1-10 really wins people over for some reason. Probably because you remind them of their child or niece learning to count when they were 3. "Oh how cute! Look at the silly American trying to count to 10!"
So here I am, talking to foreigners about education, politics, economics and terrible reality TV and all I can think is "How in the world do they know all these words????" Literally the hardest thing I have to do is speak slower because sometimes these over-educated, trilingual people have a hard time keeping up with my pace. Other times they speak faster than me.
I was mulling this over one day while hiking through the forest with a bunch of French people, wishing I had continued with my French or Polish classes. I decided, well you're amongst a lot of French people, why don't you try and say something simple.
We were coming to the end of our hike and were faced with walking back the way we had come or scaling down a steep rock. It was one of those situations where the guide says "Let's have a vote" and only one person says anything and of course that person chooses scaling the rock so that's what we were going to do. I couldn't see said rock, just the fearful expression on the French people in front of me.
Here was my chance....I conjured up the simplest phrase I could think of and asked with the best French accent I could muster: "Facile ou difficile?" I was so proud of myself. The man I asked gave me a puzzled look and replied "I'm sorry, my English not so good. Could you repeat?" Thank you Frenchman for simultaneously making me feel better and worse about myself :)
Fortunately I can now practice French with Ashley and Kyle.