Travel tales: That one time a French man thought I was German

The thing about living in Germany for five months is you’re going to start speaking German. Whether you are able to or not.

I don’t mean fluent German, because I tried to learn and that language is nearly impossible. Why are there so many der/die/das rules? And why are there so many rules? I feel like in Canada if someone makes an attempt at the English language, you smile and help them out. You meet them halfway.

But in Germany they do not meet you halfway. And I did not have the skills to make the full leap from English to German, so really I felt like a bit of a failure language-wise for about five months.

But then I was in Paris and my friend and I were buying fruit to put in some homemade sangria. The guy selling us strawberries heard me say, “Ja!” and right away asked if we were from Germany.

I laughed and realized that being mistaken for German is far preferable to being mistaken for American. It’s difficult to make the switch from saying “ja” politely to everyone to saying “oui” to everyone. But I guess that meant I learned something during my time in Germany if “ja” was my immediate reaction.


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