Foreign Faulty Language

Hi guys!

This quote perfectly embodies this post: “He who travels has stories to tell.” -Irish Proverb

Each trip has its own memorable moments that encompass similar times like these hilarious ones that I’m about to share. Traveling outside of my home country often brings a new language to use— even if I thought we spoke the same one 😉

You’ll laugh and you know for sure that these will go down in the mess-up journal.

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Madrid, Spain.

Spain: “La Papelera” or “El Safacon”?

There’s a real difference between the Spain version of Spanish versus the Hispanic version of Spanish besides the accent. There’s still a big difference between the Spanish in all the Latin American and Caribbean countries, but right now, we’ll focus on Spain.

A few summers ago, my family and I took a trip to Spain (interested in hearing about Madrid? Click here!). We drove through the southern part and stopped in a city called Valencia to visit some friends.

When we first arrived in the city, we stopped by the hotel to get our room. So as my father checks my family in, I had something to throw away. It was probably a gum wrapper or something of the sort, but nonetheless, I couldn’t find a trashcan in the lobby.

I went to go ask one of the ladies at the front desk. I ask, “Hay un safacon?” in Spanish, which translates to “Is there a trash can?” In my Colombian/Dominican Spanish vocabulary, the word safacon existed. But the lady at the front desk had no idea what I asked her. For a while, I tried my best to describe a trash can, and for some reason, the lady would not catch on.

Eventually, the lady said, “Ah, una papelera?” which also means a trash can, but I rarely heard that word used. Yes, eventually I threw out whatever it was that I needed to throw out, but I vividly remember her looking at me like I was speaking a completely different language. No, it was actually just Spanish. Plus, I had to see this lady for the next few days.

Paris, France. Eiffel Tower.

France: Je suis excité.

If you speak French, then you already anticipate something ominous, as “je suis excité” by itself indicates something that you probably think I shouldn’t be sharing.

If you just Google Translated this phrase, you’re probably a little confused because the exact translation would be: “I am excited.”

That’s what I thought, too, when I was in Paris with a friend. During a two week trip in Amboise, I finished my last weekend in France in Paris. My friend, who currently studied there, met up with me near my hotel where there were a ton of road closures. A couple of demonstrations were taking place, and the security was tight all around the city.

She and I decided that we should grab something to eat, not because it was close to lunch or anything, but because of crowded the streets were, so we sat down at a restaurant over looking La Sienne, which is the river that runs through Paris.

We sit outside and we start ordering our food. She decides that I should try les escargos which are snails. After we order, she and I talk discuss her semester in Paris and then as we dive into talking about what to do after we eat, I tell her “je suis tres excite!” And immediately, she told me not to say that. I asked her why and her reply was that it meant “I am sexually aroused.”

Luckily, I didn’t tell the waiter when my food came as I expected to. But, during those two weeks abroad in Amboise, I’m pretty sure that I used that phrase way too often. In class, I said that phrase all the time. With strangers, I also said them that phrase all the time. I’m really surprised that no one told me I kept telling everyone that I was sexually aroused.

It could have been worse, though, because my friend who I was with that day in Paris accidentally said she was sexually aroused on her first day of school that semester in France. I guess it’s good that by the time I return to Amboise hopefully no one remembers me for that phrase.


Thank you for reading! I hope you got to laugh at my mistakes and perhaps reminisce about all the times you may have had a similar experience. Soon I’ll have to share my altitude sickness experience in Peru— it’s funny now but it certainly wasn’t back then.

Have a great day!

One thought on “Foreign Faulty Language

  1. Another wonderful post, Victoria! I did get a good laugh particularly out of the French episode. Keep up the good work… It’s great to see you writing!

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