I've been thinking a lot about the cultural differences between us and the people in Poland, as well as all of the other people we have interacted with from many different countries. I find myself wondering what the social norms are for things that i could accomplish in my sleep back home. This experience has certainly opened my eyes to things that i normally don't think about in the states. My favortie example being the importance of pretty pictures on packaged food (the only way we know what our grocerys are)
Usually when I travel to a country where i do not speak the language, i study up on all the basics to help me blend in a bit. Unfortunately polish is all consonants and not so easy to just pick up. I just try to use the polish words for please and thank you (the only two I've mastered) as much as possible. For example, the yesterday we went to the old brewery in town. It was really cool- its exactly what it says it is. An old brewery transformed into a collection of nice stores and restaurants. Shopping for shoes when you're speaking a different language than the salesperson is NOT easy. (i got really cute boots by the way) And yet somehow with some sign language-like body movement and repeating the word "thank you", I managed.
So I guess that was a bit of a random post. But, it does fascinate me that 22 of us have accomplished so much without speaking the language. Our success (give or take going the wrong way on the tram a few times) I believe is due mostly to the fact that english is a second language for a bunch of people in poland. But it certainly has taught me different kinds of communication skills.
By the way, the title of this post is based on one of many cab driver experiences. Long story short we told him the address and he knew where it was and then he didn't take us anywhere near the right street. Apparently theres a street and a neighborhood area with essentially the same name minus the rolling of the R in the pronunciation. I didn't say we had a 100% success rate...