Yes, I know, it didn’t happen once, we were cheated over and over again.
We often realised we wouldn’t need this or that, or that some things we were taught were simply stupid, and we should just ignore them.
But… have you ever realised that when you heard, “Learn English, if you know English you’ll be able to communicate everywhere” it was also a lie?
I was a true believer and that’s why I learnt: I was a diligent student, believe me.
At first it seemed to be true, everywhere I went I could communicate and I saw how much easier my travelling was thanks to English. Then I went to Thailand. This country is said to be backpackers’ paradise: easy, nice, no problems with transport, communication or anything else. That’s true. That’s what a traveller’s life is like when you go to those touristy areas.
Those who complain about how commercialised and touristy Thailand is, often forget that there is much more to this country. I spent some time in a small village, somewhere in the south of the country – and it was an eye-opening experience in many aspects but most of all it was a wonderful lesson of how can you travel when nobody around you speaks the language you speak.
You might say it was only a small village, so there’s nothing unusual about it – such villages are everywhere, also in Poland, but then…
Can you imagine spending a week in a country, visiting its most important attraction and during that time you meet only one person who speaks English? This one English-speaking person that we met in Benin was a guide whose name was mentioned in a guidebook (yeah, guidebooks are great, aren’t they?) It wasn’t Lonely Planet, backpackers’ bible, though, it was Bradt guide. Well, isn’t it strange to go to a country where there is no LP’s guidebook?
OK, still you might say: Benin, where is it and why would you go there? (or as my friend put it: Benin, what the f&^% are you going there for?)
So, let’s think about Peru for a moment – it’s such a touristy place thanks to Machu Picchu and I cannot even count how many times I was surprised that it was not possible to communicate in English. Not that I complain, as Spanish is my second favourite language, but still…
Since the moment I started travelling many years ago I’ve been in numerous situations where I (or my friends) couldn’t communicate in English or in any other language that we knew. I learnt that you don’t need a language to communicate and the more experience you have, the easier it gets.
I do prefer travelling to places where I have no problems with a language, because for me it’s important not just to communicate but also talk to people and exchange opinions and experiences.
Well, having said all that, I’m still amused every time I recall how unbelievable it was when I realized that there are places where English might not be widely spoken.\
What about your experience? Would you say English is enough?