On my group trip to Italy, our leaders advised us to act as travelers, not tourists. One of the main differences between a traveler and a tourist is that a traveler desires to learn about the culture of the country he is visiting, as opposed to simply observing it. This includes a willingness to overcome language barriers, as opposed to assuming the locals will understand our English. My learning of Italian was heavily tied to my prior knowledge of Spanish from school. Although Italian is closer to French and Spanish is closer to Portuguese, Italian and Spanish are quite similar because they are both part of the Romance family, descended from Latin. Realistically, none of us in the group learned more than greetings, thank yous, and farewells. But, we did use Google Translate, our prior knowledge of Spanish/French, and some of the Italian group members, to help us speak some Italian while we were there. One of our group members stated that she had used Google Translate in one of the dress shops in Naples, and she caught a grin from the vender. She joked that the vendor had appreciated the effort, but preferred English. In the end, a lot of communication, for each of us in the group, ended up happening in English due to the fact that most vendors and waiters at tourist attractions had already been accustomed to speaking English with most customers, all-year-round. I’d say that we should never take natives in their own country speaking English as a given and an effort to speak their language, particularly in greetings and thank yous, is always appreciated. 

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