So I’ve changed my plans again. I’ve changed my plans a dozen times lol and I’ll probably change them again but now that I’ve actually been doing this for over a month, I’ve got a better idea of how things are actually working out, and what I want to do.
When I first got the idea to travel, I was planning to go to France, Spain & Portugal in the first year. Then I started learning French and realised that it was actually much more difficult than I thought it would be.
I don’t want to be one of those typical ‘ignorant British’ who goes around from place to place never attempting to converse in the local language and expecting everybody else to speak English.
So I wanted to be able to immerse myself a bit more and become at least semi fluent in the language of each country.
Basically, it ain’t gonna happen! There are three things that I have realised over the last month:
1) Language learning for me is REALLY hard. I don’t pick it up easily (despite being half French! imagine how hard any other language would be!) and it takes a long time. To become conversationally fluent I would need to study for several hours a day and I’d also need to talk to real native speakers a lot which brings me to my second point.
2) I’m not talking to people much. I’ve not spoken to anyone in 5 days. It’s a bit sad really. Before traveling I had this notion of meeting new and interesting people every day and getting soaked up into the local culture and getting to practice my new language skills.
But as with many things in life, reality is somewhat different. I don’t like large towns so I stay in quiet rural areas. Much of the time I stay in local Aires where the other other people are motorhomers. So far, at least 90% of other motorhomers have been retired couples.
I have nothing against older people, I just struggle to strike up a conversation as I just tend to relate better to people younger than myself. I know they’re out there because I see them all over Facebook and YouTube, but they are not where I am.
So, I’m just not getting to practice the language. When I do speak to people it’s usually about shopping, or parking, or motorhome repairs with the guy at Caravan 46 in Cahors heh.
3) The stuff I have been learning online hasn’t been all that useful. Sometimes I post to Facebook some of the funny sentences that Duolingo has me learning. Things like:
- you are a man who eats lemons
- the man sells his snake
- the shirt has nine blue pockets
Obviously they are constructed like that to help with specific language constructs but when I need to be able to discuss things like a hose pipe for my gas bottle, the fact that my fridge wont light on gas when I press the button or that my back door wont lock, these sites will never help me.
This is when I just go to Google Translate and try to figure it out. I have learned more that way than from all the learning I have done online and with poscasts etc. While it’s fun to use these resources and you get a sense of progress, it’s not going to help very much in real live conversations with people.
So basically, I don’t have a hope in hell of being fluent in French, let alone any other language unless I spend a vast amount of time studying it, or I spend a very long time in the country. I don’t want to do either of those things. I have a business to run and I also want to enjoy my travels and see and do lots of things and places!
I follow a lot of people on YouTube doing the same thing and they visit the most amazing places all over Europe and I want to experience that! I don’t want my desire to speak a language to actually hold me back from my travels! The purpose of learning the language was to enhance the travel, and not to hamper it.
So I’m back to my original plan!
So, I have had to let go of the idea of becoming fluent within the next few months. Instead, I will continue to learn for fun at a pace that fits into my lifestyle, and will continue to use Google Translate when there is something specific that I need to discuss.
I have to bring the motorhome back to the UK by April at the latest to have a new MOT so I’ve now plotted a very rough route around France, Spain & Portugal for the next few months, allowing the month of March to make my way back from Portugal to the UK.
Click the image below for a full sized version.
This was the first plan and the idea here was to go as far south as possible in the coldest months in order to chase the sunshine (this is known as being a ‘snowbird’) and avoid the chilly UK winters.