There’s nothing better you can do as a foreigner than learning the language of the country you’re in. People respond to you better, they smile bigger, it relieves tension when you don’t know each other’s languages, and it’s hilarious for you when you get to confuse them by speaking their language.
Case in point: Serbian. During the almost 8 hour drive back to Paracin, Serbia from Polichrono, Greece, Dina taught me several phrases that I’ve been memorizing. Although, after being around Serbians for a week now (and having one live with us for a year) means I already knew a couple of phrases. But the ones Dina’s teaching me now are much more fun!
Last night, after we arrived in Paracin, Dina and I went out to meet her friends. They were all so nice and willing to talk in English for me and for that I am so grateful. And so I gave them a present by saying all the phrases I know one after another. I bet it sounded hilarious because they were all laughing and hugging me and having a good time.
By practicing my Serbian like that (really?! “practicing my Serbian” sounds so official haha) I felt like a parrot saying everything back, a dog being rewarded, and a little girl just learning to talk all mixed together. But I really don’t mind because I’m enjoying giving them back a little of what they’ve given me.
Here are the phrases I now know how to say:
- izvini – excuse me
- zbogom – goodbye
- da – yes
- ne – no
- možda – maybe
- hvala – thank you
- dobro došli – welcome
- Kako si? – How are you?
- Ja sam dobro. – I am good. (Ja sam = I am)
- Živeli! – Cheers!
- Laku noć – good night
- Dobro jutro – good morning
- prijatno – have a good meal (like “bon apetit”)
- ajde – come on/let’s go
- Ja sam loša. – I am bad. (bad behavior)
- Ja sam dobra. – I am good. (good behavior)
- Nisam – I am not (ex: Nisam dobra – I am not good)
- molim lepo – you’re welcome
- čudo moje = my miracle
- lepo – good
- Srećan rodjendan – happy birthday
- Ovo je čudo. – This is a miracle.
I try and memorize them all so I can spit them off when the conversation calls for it but I can’t do it as well as I would like. I know it’s just part of learning another language but usually I have half of the phrases floating in my head at any given time and when one phrase leaves, another one comes in so I never know which ones I can say.
But I love that I can say a little in Serbian- I even impressed Dina’s grandmother by telling her “good morning”, “how are you”, “maybe”, and “this is a miracle” this morning when I met her.
I love Serbia.