In training, we were taught the phrase a “googles-worth of mistakes,” which is what we will make when it comes to language and cultural learning. It is not a bad thing, just inevitable… So, I thought I would share some of my favorite/ most hilarious blunders so far.
Day 1 in Romania: A girl working in the grocery store asked me something in Romanian, which I now think was “is there anything I can help you with.” I proceeded to use my little bit of Romanian and tell her, “Nu vorbesti Romaneste” (You don’t speak Romanian), when I meant to say, “Nu vorbesc Romaneste (I don’t speak Romanian). Following my rude comment on her Romanian, she gave me a funny look and Jeff proceeded to walk away, while I tried to understand what I said incorrectly.
Later that day: Jeff had done an amazing job speaking in Romanian to get us around the city, and he proceeded to get us SIM cards for our phones. Then, once the salesperson asked how we would pay, Jeff drew the biggest blank look of his life. No words were coming… in English or Romanian. It was a great place to stop! Hehe! The nice salesperson asked if we spoke English and we continued.
Not only do we have blunders in language, but also in culture. On many occasions, I have greeted someone with a hug, who was intending to kiss each side of my face. They are then trapped in an awkward hug, kissing my hair, as I enjoy a sweet embrace of a friend.
However, the greatest mishap to date has been one from not being able to read the language yet. We needed to go get more body wash from the store and we had successfully bought shampoo earlier, so we felt confident going back to get what we needed. Jeff and I found the aisle with body wash on it and we were searching for a good price, how many milliliters it had, and if it smelled good. I continue to go down the aisle smelling the body washes because I cannot read what they are made of or how they smell from the label. As I am at the end of the aisle, I tell Jeff I found one that I like. He starts to come over as I look at the label. Mind you, I cannot read Romanian but there are words that are similar of understandable. The bottle I have been sniffing is…, to put it nicely, …is a feminine hygiene wash for specific uses. I quickly put the bottle back on the shelf and tell Jeff we should walk down to the other end of the aisle. As I try to contain my laughter, he asks me why. As I retell my discovery, I begin to laugh so hard as myself that I begin to
cry hysterically ball from laughing so hard, which made it that much more embarrassing!
I hope these bring a smile to your face as you continue your day understanding what you say, read, and culturally do. They certainly bring us laughter still!
My song right now is Brave by Sara Bareilles. You probably know it. It has been popular for a while, but I love the phrase,
“Say what you wanna say, and let the words fall out, Honestly I wanna see you be Brave.”