How to survive a language barrier when travelling

How to survive a language barrier when travelling

Excited is an understatement of what I felt when my husband mentioned to me the possibility of travelling with him. But the country we were possibly going to, he said, was Denmark. That put me on second thought. I don’t know people close to me in Denmark, that means “fun” is already out of the equation, although I am sure to be able to connect with Filipinos there. 
The disturbing question was, do I really want to go to a country that is unfriendly to me? I mean, I am not just a Muslim with a veil, but with a niqab (face veil).  Anyway, after so much contemplation on whether to grab the opportunity to travel or let it go, I chose the former. That’s just me, I got itchy feet, I don’t just let a chance to go on a journey escape me. 
The trip is my husband’s, so as I was just tagging along I have no plans, and didn’t care much about the itinerary — the thought of travelling itself gave me dopamine rush. All I knew is that everything has been arranged for him.  Well then, I have no problem exploring and doing my own thing, that’s exciting. But, there’s a problem — the language barrier–  yeah, I know right?! 

So to prepare for this trip, I did the following, because there’s no way I would not take advantage of this opportunity to explore.

1. Research. This is standard, whenever you are visiting a place you find out information about it. So I researched about the country,  its culture and the tourist spots available, this way I was able to decide ahead of time if which ones am I interested in exploring. According to, the Danes are among the happiest people in the world and it also mentioned, that 67% of the Danes are giving and helpful to those in need.

This fact helped lessened my anxiety and reaffirmed my decision to go. Now, upon reading this, I foresee myself getting lost in the city and be able to get back to my accommodation with a smile, trusting that I am going to get help when needed.

2. Learn the language. You don’t need to attend a class for this, it would be great if you can, but with technology, you can easily find survival phrases for the foreign country you are visiting. It, of course, depends on the purpose and length of your stay.

Bicycle station. This bike station is located in the middle of the busy downtown of Copenhagen. Bicycling is one of the primary forms of transportation in Denmark.

I don’t know even a single Danish, but I wanted to get familiarized with the sounds of their words.  Few nights before our departure, I browsed online to learn simple phrases, the very first word I learned was “tak” which means thank you, and I did use it gazillion times during my stay in Copenhagen.  This is the best resource that I found

3. Explore Google translate or other language apps you prefer.  Try if the app you intend to utilize as “translator” or “interpreter” during your travel works. Setting the language pair made it easy for me to use the app when I arrived at my destination, as the history of the words or phrases I previously asked to translate are already readily available without typing it again. I was comfortable using Google translate because of its audio feature that allowed me to listen to the Danish words. 

This preparation helped ease my travel to Denmark, although fortunately, I didn’t have to use my Google translate because my husband’s friend’s wife was available to show me around and be the interpreter during my stay. With that being said, I will add that, connecting with a local is the best way to survive in a foreign country where language is a barrier. 

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