That being said, it’s a long time since I’ve been in a country where I didn’t understand a word and it’s sometimes difficult to find someone who speaks English, and if I’m being totally honest, it’s exhausting! The simplest things such as ordering food or doing some shopping can be like swimming through treacle, and it’s an odd feeling to need to be accompanied by a local sometimes. It seems slightly contradictory that coming out here was the most independent thing I have ever done, yet last week I had to ask one of the local girls in the office to come to the pharmacy with me!
I have a new found sense of appreciation for my students and just how difficult it is for them to speak only English for a few hours (not that their English level is comparable to my Indonesian! In fact I also have one 9 year old student who I’m pretty sure will be able to speak English better than me in a few years time!) This whole situation has made me realise just how fortunate I am to come from a Western, developed country that enabled me to speak the leading global language.
I know that it’s important to persevere, but sometimes it’s very difficult not to adopt a mind set that I’ll be okay if I just point and smile and assume that there will always be someone who can speak English, somewhere. However, those actions lend themselves to the arrogant traveller who thinks they owe the world nothing, and that is another debate we shall save for another day!