The last countries in my route around Europe were Germany, where I had never been before, and the Netherlands, where I spent a couple of weeks nine years ago. Their languages were not unknown to me; they were still unintelligible, though.
Despite being something I had always considered, I never studied German. That was not a personal interest, but a practical thought because of the importance of the country and its relevance in chemistry. However, feelings drive me more than strategy does. Therefore, my interaction with the language there was just guessing some key words out of occurrence or similarity with English—a language I barely used as my German friend speaks Spanish, as well as his Slovene friend of a Spanish father.
I flirted more with Dutch, since my host was working on the day of my arrival and I watched some cartoons with subtitles. What stroke me the most was that, in some contexts—children programmes, chat shows and advertisements—the accent reminded me of Portuguese regardless their obvious lack of connection. I did practise my Shakespearean English watching Romeo + Juliet in original version with English subtitles.
Being used to travel to countries where I understand everything, Germany, the Netherlands and Slovenia—not Iceland because they have everything in English—make me feel linguistically illiterate. On the other side, I just can’t learn the language of every land I step on.