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Old 07-04-2010, 05:09 PM
 
8,266 posts, read 10,704,378 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tek_Freek View Post
Americans and a second language: I learned Spanish in grade school. I was quite fluent. It's the ONLY place I ever had occasion to use it. I lost the ability to speak or understand it.
The second language thing is one of the most overrated skills for Americans to have, and yet it's one of the most often pointed out snobby folks who believe it's some great cultural weakness.

The reason people forget most of the French/German/Spanish they learned in school? They don't use it. Why don't they use it? They don't need to. When my company deals with manufacturers in Taiwan or computer programmers in France, we're all speaking English. It might not be fair but the burden is on everyone else, not us, that's just the way it is.

Traveling in Thailand, Egypt etc. you'll see Japanese/Italian/Korean/Brazilian tourists struggling along with English because that's there best chance of communicating with the guy at the front desk of the hotel or renting out the mopeds, not Japanese. English is the language of travel.
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Old 07-04-2010, 05:40 PM
 
Location: Texas
209 posts, read 492,773 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slackjaw View Post
The second language thing is one of the most overrated skills for Americans to have, and yet it's one of the most often pointed out snobby folks who believe it's some great cultural weakness.

The reason people forget most of the French/German/Spanish they learned in school? They don't use it. Why don't they use it? They don't need to. When my company deals with manufacturers in Taiwan or computer programmers in France, we're all speaking English. It might not be fair but the burden is on everyone else, not us, that's just the way it is.

Traveling in Thailand, Egypt etc. you'll see Japanese/Italian/Korean/Brazilian tourists struggling along with English because that's there best chance of communicating with the guy at the front desk of the hotel or renting out the mopeds, not Japanese. English is the language of travel.
I agree with you. And, I was a secondary school French teacher in the US for six years!

Scott
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Old 07-04-2010, 10:30 PM
 
9,830 posts, read 19,567,489 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slackjaw View Post
I think where you'd run into most trouble with any plan to drive South America is Darien in Panama. In fact it's more like the end of any such plan.

The major highways in Mexico are probably okay most of the trouble there is near border towns, I'd worry more about driving at night in Guatemala than Mexico. The worst would be El Salvador but I assume you could go thru Honduras and if the political situation isn't too crazy you'd be alright.

Most of Panama would be fine, but once you got to Darien that's the end of nice roads and civilization. You get jungle, swamp, malaria, and FARC guerrillas. You're not getting thru with a car, and I don't believe many have gotten thru with jeeps either.

edit = I looked it up and apparently a few people have gotten thru with vehicles, but the process looked like this:

Definitely not for the faint of heart.
No and I think the plan is for the Darien Gap to remain as is, as some sort of ecological barrier between the two continents.

Plenty of people every year do the Pan American Highway trip and it simply involves some ocean going transport from Panama to Columbia or vice versa.
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Old 07-05-2010, 04:27 AM
 
Location: on an island
13,382 posts, read 40,906,509 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by houstonreadhead View Post
You mean Americans actually fly all the way to Europe just for a beach holiday or they incorporate a stay at the beach in conjunction with the rest of their European holiday?
In my experience, the latter. Some people just really love the water.
For many years I was landlocked in Colorado, and no matter where I traveled, I would always try to get a bit of coast tucked into my itinerary.
But I have known people who flew all the way to Europe to go on a barge or regular ship cruise, some of which might include beaches. That might not be my cup of tea, but it's done.
Quote:
What beaches in Europe would be worth it? Greek ones? Portuguese ones? I'm curious. I've never really thought about Europe as a beach holiday. I even lived/worked in the Netherlands for two years and never even thought about it. Though, a lot of the Dutch I worked with would caravan to Croatia or go on packages to Turkey or Spain. Neither option appealed to me.
It all depends on what you like-the very first beach I thought of was a historic visit to the WWII landing sites in Normandy, but obviously that's not for sunbathing.
I've been to beaches in the UK, Greece, Spain, Croatia, Montenegro, France and Italy. When you make it a point to seek a nice spot, it can happen.
If it does not appeal to you, you're not going to do it.
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Old 07-05-2010, 07:05 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,663 posts, read 74,212,583 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slackjaw View Post
The second language thing is one of the most overrated skills for Americans to have, and yet it's one of the most often pointed out snobby folks who believe it's some great cultural weakness.

The reason people forget most of the French/German/Spanish they learned in school? They don't use it. Why don't they use it? They don't need to. When my company deals with manufacturers in Taiwan or computer programmers in France, we're all speaking English. It might not be fair but the burden is on everyone else, not us, that's just the way it is.

Traveling in Thailand, Egypt etc. you'll see Japanese/Italian/Korean/Brazilian tourists struggling along with English because that's there best chance of communicating with the guy at the front desk of the hotel or renting out the mopeds, not Japanese. English is the language of travel.
This thread is not about the value of being bilingual. It is about the American's unwillingness to travel because they fear the inconvenience or embarassment of a language barrier. Why don't Americans travel? One reason is that they feel excessively uncomfortable in a place where they might not be understood. Europeans have gotten over that timidity, and it doesn't get in the way of their adventure plans.

It is true that English is the language of travel. (Except in Latin America and former French Africa). But Europeans don't care, they buck up and deal with the language problem and still enjoy their vacation. The Korean speaks English in Thailand a lot worst than the guy from Buffalo, but he doesn't let that get in the way of enjoying travel, and doesn't make him afraid to go.

There is another interesting aspect to what you say that is easily overlooked. When the Korean is renting a moped in Egypt, they are both using a form of English with the same 100-word vocabulary, so it is easy for them to understand each other. Sentences are simple SVO, spoken slowly, all verbs in present tense. Americans have difficulty learning to think in that pidgin language, because the complexities and nuances and idioms of the language flow too easily.

Last edited by jtur88; 07-05-2010 at 07:18 AM..
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Old 07-05-2010, 07:32 AM
 
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Why is it almost everyone assumes travel abroad means Europe only? How about China, Africa, Australia, Cambodia, Thailand, South America, Malaysia, Russia? It is a HUGE world and not wanting to see anything except the 50 states boggles my mind. I can see not being able to afford, but not having the desire?
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Old 07-05-2010, 09:56 AM
 
Location: St. Louis
9,593 posts, read 17,162,235 times
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Actually I've found that the biggest barrier to foreign travel for Americans is the money. While we seem to have a higher per capita disposable income than almost anywhere else, we perceive that we can't afford foreign travel. I guess a lot of that is priorities and the fact that most Americans would prefer to stay in the more expensive hotels, and perhaps that is due to feelings about cleanliness, whether it is warranted or not, or maybe just on their comfort level. Still when I tell people that we're going on another foreign trip they look at me and wonder how we got the money. They seem to have forgotten that I've always driven embarrassing cars. And we stay in places where it's hard at times to figure out how to turn on the shower, but they're not dirty, they just have character.

Obviously language is not a barrier, since English is the most widely spoken second language. (In many Latin American countries most don't know English though--I had to learn Spanish as I traveled through Peru.)

When we went to Europe for a few months we rented a car and stayed in campgrounds (oh the luxury and I"m not being sarcastic) and never met other Americans. As a family of 4 though that was the most economic way for us to travel and we never met the famed rudeness of the French--most wanted to talk to us even when there was no common language. Still I can see why most Americans wouldn't want to drive in Europe--they have much less room on the roads and in parking and it can be a little scary at times to take a car on the road b/c we're used to having the whole road to ourselves. All of the cars in Athens had huge scrapes on them and there were a lot of smart cars there. Well imagine trying to drive in NYC. It's like that in much of Europe. After all, most of the streets were built in the middle ages, long before cars. We didn't try to drive in Asia. And then in England, Ireland, Oz, and Nz you have to drive on the "wrong" side of the road. It's a challenge.
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Old 07-05-2010, 10:27 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stepka View Post
Actually I've found that the biggest barrier to foreign travel for Americans is the money. While we seem to have a higher per capita disposable income than almost anywhere else, we perceive that we can't afford foreign travel. I guess a lot of that is priorities and the fact that most Americans would prefer to stay in the more expensive hotels, and perhaps that is due to feelings about cleanliness, whether it is warranted or not, or maybe just on their comfort level. Still when I tell people that we're going on another foreign trip they look at me and wonder how we got the money. They seem to have forgotten that I've always driven embarrassing cars. And we stay in places where it's hard at times to figure out how to turn on the shower, but they're not dirty, they just have character.

Obviously language is not a barrier, since English is the most widely spoken second language. (In many Latin American countries most don't know English though--I had to learn Spanish as I traveled through Peru.)

When we went to Europe for a few months we rented a car and stayed in campgrounds (oh the luxury and I"m not being sarcastic) and never met other Americans. As a family of 4 though that was the most economic way for us to travel and we never met the famed rudeness of the French--most wanted to talk to us even when there was no common language. Still I can see why most Americans wouldn't want to drive in Europe--they have much less room on the roads and in parking and it can be a little scary at times to take a car on the road b/c we're used to having the whole road to ourselves. All of the cars in Athens had huge scrapes on them and there were a lot of smart cars there. Well imagine trying to drive in NYC. It's like that in much of Europe. After all, most of the streets were built in the middle ages, long before cars. We didn't try to drive in Asia. And then in England, Ireland, Oz, and Nz you have to drive on the "wrong" side of the road. It's a challenge.
Ummm...you mean the "other" side of the road. I've driven on the left for 10 years now and even though I had driven in the US for 30 years, the right side feels wrong to me now.
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Old 07-05-2010, 11:19 AM
 
28,230 posts, read 39,866,600 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yankinscotland View Post
Well, last time I checked they were all in the European Union, so, aye, I guess they are part of Europe. We just don't want to use the bloody Euro.
LMAO! And I don't blame them...
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Old 07-05-2010, 11:20 AM
 
28,230 posts, read 39,866,600 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
The Darien Gap, in Panama, is littered with the wreckage of vehicles abandoned by adventurers who thought they could get through. You can't. I don't think any vehicle has ever gotten through, but I believe there have been a few trekkers who have made it on foot. You need to go by air or sea from Pamama City to a port in northern Colombia.

There will never be a road. Aside from the geographical difficulty of the terrain, there is concern about livestock diseases if cattle can be transported overland between Colombia and Central America.
Now I know why my brother and his wife turned around in Honduras and came back. They drove down in the 1980's.
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