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nervousness-theft and non-native speakers

nervousness-theft and non-native speakers

Aug 3rd, 2006, 11:20 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2005
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nervousness-theft and non-native speakers

Hi-my husband and I are ready to leave for a trip to Italy and France. The closer the departure date approaches, the more nervous he seems. He is worried about not speaking the language and pickpockets (theft, as well as the heat. Any comments or experiences would be appreciated. Thanks
teachopal1 is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 11:28 AM
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Sorry to not have experience with such a signficnat other - which seems to be what you are asking for. You know him, we don't.

If you are worried about heat go to wunderground.com and look up historical temperatures.

Search for pickpockets on this forum and you will find lots of advice
wombat7 is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 11:33 AM
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The language thing can be a challenge or disorienting if you've never traveled to a place like that before. But, you will get used to it. Are you going to major cities where it shouldn't be a problem? Just remind yourselves -- thousands of other folks travel to Italy/France every year who don't speak the language and nothing terrible happens, and we are as smart as they are.

As for pickpockets -- don't let worry ruin your trip. If you are that worried about it, you seem prime candidates for wearing undergarment money belts. YOu can get them at travel stores, AAA, etc. Obviously no one can pick your pocket if you don't carry around your wallet in your pants pocket, right? It always amazes me how many men do that on vacation when I see them on the metro, etc., and often they will take them out, look in them or buy something and stick them right back in full view of everyone, along with the wad of money they've just flashed through.
Christina is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 11:34 AM
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France shouldn't be a problem; in the major tourist areas quite a few people speak at least some English. As for pickpockets, the situation is no different from major U. S. cities: just exercise the usual caution.
Underhill is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 11:41 AM
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I've been to Europe successfully five times speaking only English. One trick to make things easier is to try to know what you're doing ahead of time... so you aren't in the position of attempting to ask a stranger on the street "Where's the train station?" for example.

Map out your day in advance so you have a pretty good idea where you'll go and how you'll get there. Carry a phrase book that has restaurant menu translations.

In places like a grocery store or post office, stay calm, and just look around for how other people are doing things, then do what they do (take a number, or weigh produce, or lining up, whatever). I think the tendency for nervous types is to freak-out when things are unfamiliar, when if you take a quiet minute and study what's going on around you, usually you can figure out what's going on.

As for theft get a money belt for him and neck poucn for you and wear them under your clothing with your funds and paperwork split between you.

The weather, can't help you with -haha.
suze is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 11:47 AM
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Wear a money belt, bring Italian and French phrase books, and relax! The whole pickpocketing thing is blown way out of proportion. The only place I experienced any pickpocketing incidents was in Rome, where two Gypsy girls were trying to go thru someone's pockets. As for the language barrier, it does help to know some basic phrases, but there are plenty of tourists who don't. Interestingly, the Italians seem to understand less English than the French, bu they love it when you try and speak their language. So maybe you'll get some unexpected foods on your plate, or get lost a few times - that's part of the fun.
zootsi is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 11:53 AM
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It's much cooler in Paris right now, if that's any consolation!

I imagine your husband will be immediately calmed down when he arrives and sees how easy it is to get along w/o the language and that he will not be accosted by pickpockets.

Imagining the worst is always more anxiety producing that going through the actual experience, especially one that is bound to be enjoyable.

Have fun!
grandmere is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 11:55 AM
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Yes teachopal, just remind him of all the other zillions of tourists that decend upon Italy and France each year. I met a girl from Japan at one Paris hostel - she didn't speak French or English and she managed ok

Do try to learn a few polite words to help ease potential discomfort (and its polite too) - your guidebook should have a language section.

Good Travels,

murphy89 is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 12:08 PM
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I agree that an under-clothing pouch (neck, waist, atached to belt and flipped inside the pants) is the way to go. But do not make the mistake of putting everything in there -- keep out one credit card and the cash you'll need for small expenses. The hidden pouch is of little value if you are constantly pulling it out from under your clothing.

However, I disagree that the pickpocket situation in Europe is just the same as in the U.S. -- I think it is much more of a career with very expert practitioners and organization in heavily touristed areas of Paris, Barcelona, Rome, etc, than in American cities. This, plus the fact that it will be harder to replace lost items when you are operating in a foreign language six time zones from home, makes it more important to use under-clothing devices in Europe than at home.
kayd is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 12:23 PM
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The feelings your husband are having are great- going into the unknown. That is what travel is all about. Your husband should try his best to speak the language(he'll survive speaking only english), be smart with his money(as he should be anywhere in the states), and he should invest in some stylish micro-fiber clothing at REI or a similiar outdoor store that breath well in the high humidity of italy. Enjoy the apprehension.
brando is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 01:02 PM
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Definitely the phrase book - and a small pocket dictionary. I have found both to be very helpful. The phrasebook is laid out in such a way as to have convinient phrases for different situations - restaurants, hotels, train stations, etc. - and the dictionary has more words (esspecially helpful at the pharmacy when I needed a product that was not in my phrasebook). I actually couldn't even pronounce the word in German, so I just pointed to it in the book - LOL.
J_Correa is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 01:17 PM
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If possible, consider getting a few of the basic phrases down --

where is --> Dov e (Do-vay) (Italy)
Ou e (oooh- ay) (France)

More Italian - I would like --> Vorr e (Vorray)

please --> per favore

thank you -->grazie

etc. from the phrase book or a cyber language site. (Apologies for the spelling.)
annw is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 01:42 PM
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Remind him of the fact that he's travelling to two of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. There will be a lot of people there who will know enough English to help you out (yes, even in France) if necessary. Phrasebooks are useful to have, but a first time traveller might be amazed at how easy it can be to get around with little or no knowledge of the native language.

I think it's ideal to try to learn at least a few basic phrases, but one shouldn't worry too much if one is not fluent.
JennaZ is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 02:02 PM
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You've probably done this already, but plan in advance how you are getting from the airport to your hotel (and, of course, reserve the hotel in advance).Once you're at your hotel without trauma, he'll feel better.
missypie is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 02:06 PM
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europeans from different countries will usually speak english to each other. it's the common language of europe so don't feel funny about using it.

suze gives great advice...relax, observe, plan a bit better than you would at home and you will be fine.
walkinaround is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 02:20 PM
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ah shucks, thanks. believe me i learned my methods on the road, trial and error.

i don't recommend learning "where is...?" in a foreign language because unless you are reasonably fluent you won't be able to understand the answers you will receive!!

more helpful and the one phrase i *always* practice until i am comfortable with it is "I'm sorry, I don't speak ___." said with a smile and sheepish expression. if you want to get fancy then also learn in the local language "Do you speak English?" but likely they have already figured out your native tongue and if they DO speak English will, without your asking.
suze is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 02:49 PM
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People who deal regularly with tourists or foreigners in Paris usually speak some English, although they are rarely fluent—they can communicate on subjects related to their work, but anything out of the ordinary is a problem.

Off the beaten tourist path in the city, you may encounter few people who speak English with any useful fluency. In the provinces, this is even more true.

The weather right now in Paris is excellent … a temporary interruption of the normal blast-furnace heat. The past two days have been wonderful. The previous month was hellish, with temperatures on the street well over 100 F.

Pickpockets are a potential problem in Paris. Beggars and illegal street sellers and con artists are a frequent irritation at touristy spots; lately the African ones have become extremely aggressive and persistent, especially with females on their own. They aren't dangerous, but they show an amazing lack of respect for other people and they don't seem to understand the word "no" no matter how loudly it is said. Gypsy con artists ("Excuse me, do you speak English?") are a ubiquitous pox but they will not assault passerby, as a general rule (perhaps because they are almost always underage girls).
AnthonyGA is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 03:08 PM
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My advice is to take things slowly at first, and if something goes wrong [and it will] don't panic - it doesn't mean the whole trip is going to be a disaster.
Once you are at your hotel, take some time to explore the area you are in, and work out where it is on a map. Then if you go out on a trip, work out how you are going to get back.
Have plenty of stops to rest/have a drink and don't be too ambitious about what you can do in a day.
If you get over heated, go into a church - they are usually very cool, and are not much frequented by villans!
If you are not understood or do not understand, smile - it is not their fault they don't speak your language.
In France, big department stores are usually air-conditioned.
Take a good phrase-book - you'll soon learn the basic phrases for the things you order most often - and does it really matter if you get a coke when you wanted a pepsi [you may not be coke drinkers, but you know what I mean].
Most of all - relax!
annhig is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 03:15 PM
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Carry the business card of your hotel, and local currency in smaller bills... that way if you get tired or lost you can always get a taxi back "home" by showing the driver the card with the hotel address.
suze is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2006, 03:48 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
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I agree with the other poster about the language not being a problem and with getting a money belt but here are a few more tips to make you feel more secure. If you carry a purse or bag, carry it across your body, not on your shoulder. Do not put bags or cameras on the floor or back of chair while you eat, they will dissapear. Do not let anyone get closer to you than you normally would. I don't let people that I don't know touch me or try to help me with my things if I haven't asked them to. These are the people trying to pickpocket you. Only carry a small amount of money in your pocket, put the rest in the concealed waist pouch. If you need more money, go someplace quiet to retrieve it, not while you're in the busy train station or in the line for the metro. Basically, use the same precautions you would use in any big city. Don't worry the whole trip about people try to steal from you. Just be aware of your surroundings and the people around you and you will be fine.

Have a great trip,
monorailgold is offline  

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