In fact, most international students, regardless of fluency, have trouble speaking with French students. The divide between us and them causes a bit of isolation. However, in a way, the isolation becomes a great motivator for learning the language.
Emma Alquist (Sydney): Luckily Australia is an English speaking country so there weren’t any initial issues with trying to communicate. However, there are lots of travelers in the city, so I meet a lot of people with stronger accents. This sometimes makes communicating difficult. For example, I have two flatmates from Brazil. Even though I know some Spanish, trying to understand Portuguese is next to impossible.
Many of my friends who aren’t native English speakers ask me things like, “How do I say…” or “Does it make sense if I say…” all the time. I’m always happy to help, but English and grammar have always been my weakest subjects so hopefully I am giving them correct feedback.
Even though Australians speak English, they have some interesting phrases unique to the country. For example, “Hey mate” is a common way to say hi. Another one that confused me at first was, “How you going?” People say this to ask how you are, but I feel like they’re asking me if I’m driving or walking somewhere.
I think the thing I say the most is, “No worries.” I say this in the United States too, but since being in Australia, I use it in almost every situation. Overall I can usually understand what people are trying to say if it’s in context, but here are some other Australian slang words I have gotten used to:
Heaps: a lot
Emily McCoy (Milan): I came to Italy not knowing much Italian due to this trip being a last-minute decision. However, I have been very lucky that the majority of people here speak English. Most of the younger Italian population are required to study English while in school.
The few times I have run into language barriers have been in small family-owned shops and restaurants ran by elderly Italians. These places are in more rural areas of Italy that don’t get a lot of tourists. When I visited Rome, Florence and Venice, most people could tell that I was a foreigner and would begin their conversations in English.
I can’t think of a phrase used here that doesn’t have a similar match in the United States. In West Virginia, I often hear people say, “Were you raised in a barn?” or “Do you live in a barn?” in reference to leaving doors open. Here in Italy, they have a similar saying that translates to, “Do you live in the Coliseum?” because the Coliseum doesn’t have doors. I thought it was funny that we have sarcastic sayings that are so similar.