An Idiot Abroad

Living (or even just traveling) abroad is sure to bring out the ignorant idiot in all of us. When that somewhere new comes with a foreign language the confusion compounds. This combination has sure brought my clueless, airhead tendencies to surface a time or two. But that’s not much of an accomplishment; my blooper-reel is long and knows no boarders.

Drücken. I have talked before about how life has a way of humbling me just when I need it most. This was one of those moments. The sun was shinning and the birds were chirping as I rode my bicycle through the quaint, picturesque German village I was living in. In my head I was rehearsing the German phrase I was going to recite to the sweet lady behind the post office counter about the lovely weather and my wish for international stamps. “You got this!” I confidently told myself as I parked my bike and pulled on the door. But it didn’t budge. I peered inside and saw the smiling lady, there behind the counter, so I pulled again. Nothing. What the heck? Maybe they are on a lunch break? So I turned and walked back towards my bicycle feeling defeated and confused, when suddenly she opened the door behind me. She muttered something indecipherable (at that stage, everything spoken in German was impossible for me to understand) and pointed to the sign on the door. That was the moment I learned what the word “drücken” meant: push.

Scheide. It was the week of Christmas, and apparently everyone and their uncle was on the same train as us. A packed, but nonetheless festive atmosphere filled the train as the 4 of us crowded around playing a card game to pass the time. With no table, we used a notebook on a lap to dole out the cards in order to play a German card game I was unfamiliar with. As your turn approached if you could not play a card, you were to say, “Schiebe” (push/pass). The game went on quite uneventfully for some time. So there I was confidently announcing “Scheide” during a turn. My friends didn’t seem to hear me, so I repeated it a few more times, louder. Until it clicked, and everyone realized (but me) that I was practically yelling, “VAGINA” on a packed train. My friends burst into laughter, and I immediately turned bright red.

These are only two of the more memorable mistakes during my language learning journey. There have been, and will be more. To be continued…



In the beginning learning German was extremely exhausting for me (hence the spontaneous cat nap with flashcards in hand).


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