I was never destined to learn another language… but here I am

10 green bottles
Sepuluh botol hijau…

I’m quite often asked in Austria if I learnt German at school. My answer: “No, I learnt Indonesian,” is usually met with very blank stares.

When I began high school in Australia it was mandatory to learn one semester each of French and Indonesian.

After this we had to decide which language to study for the next three years. If it had been possible I would have chosen neither, but since this was not an option, I went for Indonesian. My main reason for this was because the French teacher was strict, whereas the Indonesian teacher was not so much. And so went by three years of scraping by my Indonesian classes with the minimum of effort.

In retrospect, French would have been far more useful. And to this day I still know more French than Indonesian – my Indonesian language knowledge pretty much consists of being able to sing 10 Green Bottles.

So now you get a picture of me as a youngster – absolutely no interest in languages whatsoever.

Portugal, Porto
Me in Porto, no idea my life was about to change

By the time I embarked on my fateful second Eurotrip in 2013, I had a slightly different opinion. With six weeks planned in Spain and Portugal, I figured it was a great opportunity to kick start learning Spanish. This worked in with a bigger plan of travelling to South America for my next OS trip.

But always in the back of my mind was that maybe… just maybe… in spending six weeks in the country I would inevitably meet a charming Spanish man who would whisk me off my feet with his foreign accent and homemade Sangria.

In the last week of my Spanish-Portugal adventure, I finally met my foreign friend.

Festival Saint John, Porto
Festival Saint John, Porto – with my foreign friend

But he wasn’t Spanish or Portuguese… he was Austrian.

So… the language I would be learning was… German.

And here I am, 6.5 years on, still struggling through the German language… my anti-language-learning tongue spits through r’s and l’s… dreaming of the ocean and afternoon siestas. But it could have been worse I suppose. It could have been Russian… or Mandarin… or Arabic.

So I’ll press on with the German.



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