As the way we travel is shifting, and people are looking for quieter and lesser-known destinations, learning the local language provides an opportunity to leave preconceptions behind, and enter someone else's' day to day with just an open mind.
W hile the future of travel seems uncertain, reminiscing on old holiday photos seems to be the only way to cure our restless wanderlust. As planning any future trip seems out of the question at the moment, it might be time to jet-off to your dream destination through the power of words. Speaking another language is a skill many of us wish we had the time to learn, so with reclaimed hours in our days and endless online free resources and apps, we could be ordering un cafe au lait s’il vous plait from our own make-shift Parisienne kitchen cafe. Language has a magical way of welcoming you to see a country in ways beyond the surface. It promotes mindful travel, where tourism is invested in local culture and togetherness. It opens us up to respecting customs, to connect with one another, to understand and listen. In an isolated world, learning a new language has never been more crucial. It gives us greater depths of understanding and appreciation of the places we love and are all so desperate to visit.
It’s a language that can unlock a country’s best kept secret. It’s where laughter finds its inspiration, stories come to life and advice is shared. It’s where curiosity finds its answers, and where we could find ours too. As the way we travel is shifting, and people are looking for quieter and lesser-known destinations, learning the local language provides an opportunity to leave preconceptions behind, and enter someone else’s’ day to day with just an open mind. By trying, and most likely getting it wrong sometimes, we gain more humbleness and respect than we could ever imagine, whilst giving back more compassion and joy than we had planned. The mispronunciations may provide laughter for years to come, yet the goodwill character that stems from a place of willingness to try, will stay with you forever. Experiencing a place through the eyes and stories of its people means to get lost in conversation you half understand, to know that the train you’re about to get on is not going to your destination, to smile at yourself as you sit in the bar and overhear the excuses the old men are coming up with to tell their wives why they’ll be late to dinner. Only then can we start to understand what travel is really about. Once I had learned that una cerveza only tip-toed into the Spanish drinking scene, I treasured my days sipping on a caňa between classes; the perfectly sized glass of beer just enough to quench your thirst without sending you to sleep. It was life changing. To enjoy a sobremesa is when the flow of conversation is in full swing long after a meal with friends and family has ended; usually when the world is set to rights and drinks are flowing. With such examples, language is crucial in appreciating life’s simple pleasures and togetherness. More than ever, understanding one another is crucial and only through language can we stay connected in such an isolated state.