Every person that I meet from the world over is leaving their mark on me. Specifically with their accents.
After talking to Germans, French, Italians, Finish, Swedish, Australians, etc. my brain just becomes a mesh of different sounds, all fighting for supremacy. It wants to mimic the sounds I hear, so I often find that my thoughts are no longer in an American accent.
My grammar is also unraveling. Sometimes I catch myself speaking as if English were not my first language – nay – the only language I speak with any kind of efficiency. Instead, it sounds like I’m an English learner trying to string together sentences with the only words I know.
For example, when talking about Cambodia’s litter problem, I was attempting to say that it pains me to see so much garbage everywhere. What came out was: It gives me a pain. Close! But no cigar.
I’ve been mistaken for all sorts of Anglo-Saxxon nationalities. German, Finnish, English, and Australian just to name a few. People have told me I don’t sound like an American, and have asked me what part of Germany I’m from.
I’ve mistakenly introduced myself to someone with an English accent before, because that was the tone of my thoughts at the time. I then had to apologize and inform them that I was actually American and that I didn’t have an explanation for the accent in which I had introduced myself.
I get confused helping people with their English, too. What’s another word for walking? Umm walking?
And this is all on top of the fact that I have a terrible time even understanding other peoples’ accents. I think people are constantly talking all kinds of nonsense, and I confusedly answer questions in obvious ways: the beach is on the coast. The shower is in the bathroom. Is that what you asked me?
And this is only after three weeks of traveling. I’ll be an unrecognizable mess when I come home after six months.