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Improvising to deal with language issues in Poland

Until I arrived in Poland, I didn’t really have any language issues. In England, of course, they speak English. In Iceland, the Netherlands, and Denmark, nearly everyone speaks English in addition to his mother tongue, and most signs are also in English. In Germany, this is less the case, but I speak German well enough to get by. However, here in Poland, very few people, except young people, speak English well, and there are very few signs in English.

To get by here, I’ve had to improvise. For example, yesterday I managed to make a train reservation with a clerk who spoke no English. I showed her my ticket to Krakow, which I bought in Germany, and I wrote on a slip of paper, “Reserv. 19.07.06 12:05”. From this she correctly inferred that I wanted the 12:05 train to Krakow on July 19, and that’s what I got. I was able to read the price from her screen. It really wasn’t so difficult at all, but it certainly helped that I knew what I wanted.

Learning the words for beer and coffee has helped a lot, too.