Communication within a Non-native Country

When you first enter a country for the first time, you should expect to feel uncomfortable or at least aware that you wont be around what you are used to. If you’re like most people and going to a different country for holiday, you’ll probably end up in a touristy destination where most of the locals speak great English. Even though I’m not here in Samos for holiday, there are many Europeans that do vacation here. Therefore when I go into town, after a day at work, I can easily go to a store or restaurant and speak to the owner or server in English. I find being a native English speaker a bit of a downfall though, mainly saying this because when I went to Turkey for a day to find my friends I couldn’t communicate with anyone that spoke Turkish or any other language. If I were alone this would have made the process of finding my friends much more difficult, however I went with a girl who speak French and we happened to find a man who spent ten years working in France. If we hadn’t found this man and I hadn’t gone with Lucie, then I wouldn’t have been able to find someone who could translate between us and the Turkish police officers.

In the workplace a language barrier can occur when words have multiple meanings or different uses between the languages. For example, I recently started a project on the Terrestrial Mammals Team and my supervisor is Spanish and he has a really thick accent. His accent is sometimes really hard to understand and often times he doesn’t understand what I say if I speak to quickly or if I joke around with him. I have gotten used to working with non-native English speakers and it has made it easier to understand and work with others. I find it relatively rewarding and a learning experience to work with interns who speak French, Spanish or Greek because it gives me the opportunity to learn new words. Even working with interns from England of Scotland is fun because they have a lot of different words that they use for common items or common phrases.


I am a rising junior studying environment and minoring in entrepreneurship and urban planning. For the next 6 weeks I will be interning at the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation. During this internship I will be aiding in microplastics research on and around the Greek island of Samos.

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