Many people in the UK follow Julie Falconer’s travel blog. Originally from California, Julie has visited over 90 countries! She is now living in London, where she writes her award-winning travel blog, A Lady in London and runs a travel website called VisitingEU.
We are delighted to interview Julie about her language skills!
How many languages does a travel expert like you speak?
“I speak four languages. I actually started learning my first foreign language—Spanish—when I was five! When I was 18, I moved to France to study French. Living there with a host family that didn’t speak a word of English was a real challenge. Then I decided to study in Prague, where Czech language classes were part of my daily curriculum.”
What does it mean to you to speak all those languages?
“Little did I know then how much I would use the skills I had learned. But after I left Prague, I quickly put them to use. First I spent two summers working in Paris and Brussels, using my French skills on a daily basis. I would not have been able to get those jobs—or spend two great summers in Europe—had I not had the language skills I developed earlier. Three years later, I moved to London, where I found myself traveling to a different country almost every month. Suddenly my knowledge of other languages became one of the most valuable assets I had.”
Can you share some examples of how language enriched your life?
“Knowing four languages has not only unlocked opportunities to interact with people that wouldn’t have been accessible to me otherwise—such as business meetings in Peru with Spanish speakers—but it has also assisted me in unforeseen circumstances. One such situation that’s particularly memorable was when my taxi broke down in the middle of nowhere in Senegal, and I had only my French skills to get me the rest of the way to where I needed to go.
Even my Czech skills—or what is left of them after nine years—have proved useful. Last year I took a trip to Prague and managed to get to know people I never would have been able to talk to as much if it hadn’t been for those classes years ago. And that’s to say nothing of being able to order a beer, a very important skill in a country with as strong a brewing tradition as the Czech Republic!”
“My list of places to visit around the globe is still long, and I know that my language skills will continue to help me in ways I can’t yet anticipate. No matter what those ways are, I will always be thankful to have the knowledge—and reasons to keep it fresh in my mind!”