Tourists, I Swear…

, , , , | Learning | August 25, 2020

It’s 2006 I’m fifteen and on a big school trip through Europe to practice our newly-learned German and see some of the countries where German is spoken. For whatever reason, the trip plan includes a few hours of free time and an overnight stay in Strasbourg, which might be right near the German border, but is still in France.

My classmates and I have had a long day, with a start in Cologne and a stop in Heidelberg. Because of this, and because we’re fifteen and hungry most of the time, we split into groups and start looking for street food or grocery shops. It is important to note that we’re all Bulgarian and we all speak at least one other language.

A few of my classmates are trying to find a popular burger chain restaurant; again, we’re 15 and it doesn’t occur to them to just find local food. They stop a man to ask him for directions, since smartphones are not a thing yet and nobody has a map. They first ask him in German, as we all have spoken primarily in the German on the trip. The man shakes his head and tries to go on his way.

Here is where my classmates might be jerks. They don’t let him go and ask the same question in English. The man, again, doesn’t understand. One of the group speaks Spanish and tries this language; again, no luck, and unfortunately, nobody can speak French.

One of the group is frustrated and hangry at this point and just swears under his nose in Bulgarian that they just want to go to the [string of expletives] chain burger restaurant. However, the man overhears, turns around, indicates the right direction with his hand, and goes on his way. My classmates find their burger place.

Was the man another Bulgarian or simply someone who understood that language enough? We’ll never know. But I occasionally snicker to think how multiple foreign languages didn’t help my classmates, but swearing in their own language did.

1 Thumbs
243