There is no feeling like have the strongest urge to “go”, and getting to the restroom and finally being able to relieve yourself. This feeling becomes even more unique when you realize there is no toilet paper, after you have already gone. The uniqueness increases even more, when you are in Germany and you know for sure the person in the stall next to you doesn’t speak a bit of English. I only have God to thank for the fact that the sound for “Oh crap! There is no toilet paper” is obviously a universal sound. The nice elderly lady reached under the stall to hand me some toilet paper and said something in German. All I could do was thank her (In German. Go me!) and laugh.
Later that day, as I was laughing at myself, I started thinking about other similarities that I have experienced while living in Europe. Many people might wonder how we navigate our way through Europe without being fluent in any language other than English. I recently realized that my German speaking abilities are very situational. I can order food, check out at the grocery store, and somewhat have a conversation with the children at my daughter's kindergarten. (Notice I didn't say adults, haha). Outside of those situations, rather in Germany or another nearby country, I rely heavily on Google Translate, body language, hand motions, pointing, etc. Living here, I quickly learned that some expressions or gestures are truly universal, despite the language being spoken. No matter where we are, you can always tell when a couple is arguing or when a waitress has an attitude. Rather in France or in Germany, an attitude is the same and facial expressions tell as much of a story as do the words we can’t understand. I am also very grateful that the hand motions for many words are universal. The other day, Makenzie’s teacher was able to tell me that she was upstairs sleeping with simple hand motions. I’ve also been able to use hand motions to communicate with the daycare staff at my gym to tell them Brayden is hungry or dirty, although I am now starting to practice saying these phrases in German!
I think you get the point that it is not as difficult as it may seem to live in a place where English is not the first language. My German is slowly coming along, thanks to phone apps, other Germans, and just simply being immersed in the culture, but I am far from speaking fluent German. However, I can assure you that my sign language (aka pointing and hand motion) skills are on point and for now that’s getting me by just fine!