The idea of living in a place where people don’t speak your language may feel a bit terrifying but it’s actually not all that hard.⠀

The most important point is that with a sim card, Google translate, and Google maps, you can communicate with anyone and navigate anywhere. Beyond that, I’ve become used to stopping random people on the street to translate street signs or menus, and people tend to be happy to help!⠀

One of my favorite stories is that when I lived in Taipei last year, I ordered some exercise bands off of the local Amazon equivalent. The next day, a delivery driver, who didn’t speak English, called me and started speaking a mile a minute in Mandarin.⠀

After thinking about what to do, I ran across the street into a restaurant, bolted up to the hostess, and asked her, “hey, do you speak English?”⠀

“A little bit,” she responded, which is code for I’m fluent because Taiwanese people are humble.⠀

“Perfect. Can you tell this delivery driver to deliver my package across the street?” I blurted while handing her my cell phone.⠀

She had a slightly confused look on her face but she took the phone, and after a few minutes of speaking to the driver, she informed me that my package would be delivered in 30 minutes. I thanked her profusely, we shared a laugh and then I went on my way!⠀

The moral of the story here is that if you really need help (especially in cultures where kindness is a core value) you’ll be shocked at how helpful other humans will be. And this simple fact, combined with the power of technology, makes living in places where not all of the locals speak English very doable.⠀

If you have a similar story then I’d love to hear it!⠀

Photo by @joelvodell