Common French Phrases

Even if you don’t even know how to say hello in other languages, these most common French phrases will at least get you through the door of your favorite French restaurant.


Learning French (especially as a native English speaker) is a little daunting. Unlike Germanic languages, French draws from Latin, the same as most romantic languages. Luckily, you don’t need to learn every word and phrase before heading to a French-speaking nation. 


Common French Greetings

Some of the most common French phrases are greetings. Greetings are commonly the most-used phrases when traveling in France. Most travelers claim that after greeting someone, they often default back to their native languages (as long as the French speaker knows said language). 


If your native language is English and you are heading to a major city where French is widely spoken, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to bypass French altogether — as long as you approach the French speaker with French greetings. 


Hello In French

Some common greetings include:

Good day: Bonjour

Hi: Salut

Hey there: Coucou

Hello: Allô


Depending on how well you know the person, you could shake hands or offer a kiss on each of his cheeks.


French Pleasantries

Pleasantries in French-speaking countries are much more important than in countries where Germanic languages are spoken. You need to acknowledge the other person in a positive manner — no matter your relationship.


One example of when Americans get this wrong is when entering a business. In the states, we always assume ‘the customer is always right’ and ‘it’s the salesperson’s job to greet me.’ 


In many French-speaking countries, it’s polite not only to say hello to a salesperson when you enter a business — but you should also ask, “How are you?” as well. Entering a store and shopping without acknowledging the proprietor is considered extremely rude.


Hello, how are you?: Bonjour, comment allez-vous?


How is your mother?: Comment va ta mère?


Thank you very much: Merci beaucoup


You’re welcome: Je vous en prie


In addition to asking how someone is doing, you might even ask how that person’s family is that day, too. 


Most Common French Phrases for Traveling

One of our best tips for learning a new language? Go with the most common phrases first. When it comes to traveling, you’ll also want to have a few words in your arsenal to get you from place to place — and know what to say at a hotel or Airbnb. These most common French phrases for traveling will help get you in, around and back out of any French-speaking country.



Getting around a French-speaking country is harder when you don’t have the right vocabulary to get you where you want to go. You’ll want to memorize these most common French phrases and French words if you’re planning on traveling without an interpreter.


Train: Train

Plane: Avion

Airport: Aéroport

Car: Voiture

Van: Camionette

Bus: Autobus

Boat: Bateau

Ferry: Ferry

Taxi: Taxi (easy one, right?)

Gas station: Station-essence

Train station: Gare

Subway: Métro



These days, most hotels hire English-speaking staff. English has become the universal language of travel, so you can probably check in to your hotel without any problems. 


But if you’re staying in a homestay or an Airbnb, you’ll want to make note of a few of these vocab words — or download a translator app that can easily translate text to speech, such as the Vocre app, available on Google Play for Android or the Apple Store for iOS. 

French Lodging Phrases

Hello, I have a reservation: Bonjour, j’ai un réservation.


I’d like a no-smoking room: Je voudrais une chambre non-fumeur.


What time is check-out?: A quelle heure dois-je libérer la chambre?


French Lodging Vocabulary

Suitcase: Valise

Bed: Lit, couche, bâti

Toilet paper: Papier toilette

Shower: Douche

Hot water: D’eau chaude


Eating at a Restaurant

Luckily, most waitstaff in large, French-speaking cities understand English. But again, it’s considered good manners to try to speak french to your waiter before throwing in the towel and defaulting to English.


Table for one, please: Bonjour, une table pour une, s’il vous plaît.

I need a menu please: La carte, s’il vous plaît?

Water, please: Une carafe d’eau, s’il vous plaît?

Restroom: Toilettes or WC


French Figures of Speech

Just like with every language, French has its own figures of speech. It can be extremely confusing (and somewhat comical) to try to figure out what people are saying!


We have eyes bigger than our stomaches: Nous avions les yeux plus gros que le ventre.


The ticket cost me an arm: ce billet m’a coûté un bras.

(In English, we say ‘an arm and a leg,’ but it’s just an arm in French!)


To get broken up with (or dumped): Se faire larguer.


Formal Vs. Informal French Phrases

In French, it’s common to use slightly different words and phrases when you’re speaking to a stranger than you would when speaking to your best friend. 


The word for ‘you’ in French is ‘tu’ if you’re speaking to someone you know. If you’re speaking to someone you want to show respect to or a stranger, you would use the formal word for ‘you,’ which is ‘vous.’


Heading to France last minute? Check out our list of the best travel apps for last-minute travel! Headed to other destinations? Find out how to say common Chinese phrases or common Spanish phrases.


Good Morning in French

Learn how to say good morning in French, when to say it, and what to avoid doing if you don’t want to look like a French-speaking novice.


One of the most common phrases you can learn to say in other languages is, “Good morning.” Even if you only know how to say good morning in different languages, you’ll at least be able to greet strangers and friends alike — and do so in an enjoyable, pleasant way!


How to Say Good Morning in French

Good morning is one of the most common phrases to say in French! You can use this phrase much of the day (not just first thing in the morning or before noon as we do in English-speaking countries).


To say good morning in French, you’d say, “Bonjour!”

Bonjour Pronunciation

In French, pronunciation is everything (or practically everything, at least)! 


The French may forgive a lot when it comes to butchering their language, but they don’t look lightly upon those that mispronounce words. In fact, mispronouncing words is probably one of the biggest offenses a French student can make!


When saying good morning in French, To pronounce bonjour, you may be tempted to simply sound out the word and say, “bahn-joor.” And while this isn’t terribly off-base to our English ears, it’s practically a crime in France. If you want to say bonjour and sound like a local, you’ll want to say, “bown-zhoor.”


If you really want to sound like a local, you may want to practice saying French words with a language translation app, like Vocre.


Vocre offers text-to-speech, speech-to-text, and even voice-to-voice translation. The best part is that you can download the app on your phone when you have wifi or cell service and continue to use it even if your signal is lost. 


Vocre is one of the best language translation apps available in the Apple Store for iOS or the Google Play Store for Android.

When to Say Bonjour

Bonjour can be used correctly in many situations — not just to wish someone a good morning when first waking up!


In the U.S. (and other English-speaking countries), we often say good morning only when we first awake. But in other countries, it’s used throughout the morning, often right up until 11:59 a.m.


Bonjour is also both an informal word and a semi-formal word, meaning you can use it with friends, relatives, and even some people you’ve just met. 

Informal Uses

In English-speaking countries, we use the phrase good morning pretty informally, though we may also tell a stranger good morning as we pass them on the street.


Similarly, you may the word bonjour to say good morning in French to your friends and family members, too. 


The crazy thing in French is that you can say bonjour to someone, often regardless of what time of day it is! It’s appropriate to say bonjour to others throughout the day — often until just before evening. 


This means that bonjour doesn’t just mean good morning, but it also means good day, too. 

Semi-Formal Uses

You may use bonjour to greet someone you’re familiar with or in an informal manner, and you may also say bonjour in semi-formal situations, too. 


Consider it like this: if you’re wearing business-casual style to an event, you can probably say bonjour and consider you’ll be using this word appropriately. This means you can use this phrase for business meetings in English and in French.


You’ll just need to use discretion if you’re using the word in a situation where it could be considered too formal to use it. 


For example, you may not want to use it at a funeral, to greet someone of great importance, or to meet someone of much higher stature. 

Common Mistakes in French (or how to avoid sounding like a novice)

There are many common mistakes that English speakers use when trying to speak French. When you make these mistakes, you’ll sound instantly like a novice. 


The most common mistakes English speakers use when learning French include using literal translations (word-for-word translations), mispronouncing words (a major faux pas in French), and mixing up false friends (or using French words like English words). 

Don’t Use Literal Translations

We’ve all been there: we try to hack a French sentence word for word. Instead, we just end up butchering the sentence, word, or phrase! English-to-French translations are difficult because of this.


One of the best ways to show everyone you’re a novice French speaker is to use literal translations. One of the most commonly botched French translations is bon matin.


Bon means good and matin means morning. That means you can use this phrase to say good morning, right?




If you say bon matin, everyone will instantly know that you’re new to the French language. Do yourself (and everyone else who may end up feeling terribly embarrassed for you) and avoid saying this at all costs.

Pronunciation Matters

Pronunciation is one of the most important pieces of learning French. Many English speakers try to sound out words and end up bungling pronunciation altogether.


When you mispronounce a word (especially if you do so trying to sound it out as an English word), you’ll inadvertently end up broadcasting to every French speaker in earshot that you’re a French novice. 


If you want to impress your French listeners (or, let’s be honest: simply avoid offending them), learn the correct pronunciation of each word. The best way to do this is to listen to the pronunciation of the word.


You can use a language translation app, such as Vocre, that offers text-to-voice translation. 

False Friends

False friends is a term for words that are spelled the same in two languages but have two totally different meanings.


In French, there are many words that look the same as English words, though their meanings are completely different.


Examples of commonly misused French false friends include coin (in English this means coin money; in French, it means corner), monnaie (conversely, this looks like the English word money but it means change), and actuellement (which looks like the English word actually but ‘actually’ means right now in French). 


While when we’re practicing we can use our best judgment or guess what a word means, but it’s always best to know or ask what a word means if you’re trying to impress your French friends. 

French Greetings

Don’t want to say good morning when you greet someone? 


There are plenty of French greetings you can use to say hi, hey, how are you, nice to meet you, and much more! They include:


  • Âllo: hello
  • Ça va?: how are you?
  • Coucou: hey
  • Enchanté: nice to meet you
  • Tu vas bien?: have you been well?

Bonne Journée

Want to learn how to tell someone to have a good day in French? Bonne means good and ​​journée means daytime (though when you put them together, it means to have a good day).


You can use this phrase when you’re saying goodbye to someone (especially if that someone is a person you’re slightly more formal with — such as a client or a stranger on the street). 


If you want to be a little less formal with friends or relatives, you can always say salut instead of saying hello or goodbye. 


Salut is sort of the French equivalent of, “Hey, what’s up?” It’s similar to how the British say, “Cheers,” instead of saying hi or bye. 


The direct translation of salut is salvation. When saying this word, don’t say the T sound at the end (you’ll give yourself away as a French-speaking novice right away!). 


Whatever you do, don’t say salut when you’re toasting on New Year’s Eve (or any other time for that matter!). 


Salut is often misused by English-speakers because salute means to your health in Italian. In French, it doesn’t mean this at all. If you want to toast in French you should say, “À ta santé,” or, “À votre santé,” both of which mean to your health in French.


Another common greeting in French is bienvenue, which simply means welcome.


You could say this greeting when welcoming someone into your home or to the country for the first time. 


The masculine form of bienvenue is bienvenu. 


What you don’t want to do is use the phrase bienvenue when you want to say, “You’re welcome,” in French. These two phrases mean two entirely different sentiments. 


If you want to say, “You’re welcome,” in French, you’d say, “de rien,” which translates to, it means nothing.

Common French Phrases

Ready to learn a few more common French phrases


Below is a list of common phrases and words for meeting someone new, asking (politely) if a French speaker also speaks English, you want to say goodbye, or if you want to explain that you don’t speak French (yet!).  


  • Do you speak English?: Parlez-vous anglais? 
  • Excuse me: Excusez-moi
  • Goodbye: Au revoir! 
  • I do not speak French: Je ne parle pas français
  • Mrs./Mr./Miss: Madame/Monsieur/Mademoiselle
  • Pardon me: Pardon
  • See you later!: À tout à l’heure! 
  • Thank you/thank you very much: Merci/merci beaucoup 

Merry Christmas in Different Languages

Find out how to say Merry Christmas in different languages. Or, if the recipient of your greeting doesn’t celebrate any December holidays, you can find out how to say hello in other languages instead.


Christmas is celebrated across the world. 


It is celebrated predominantly by Christians, but this holiday also has a secular sister that’s celebrated by even those who don’t celebrate the birth of Jesus.


No matter where you are in the world (or what language you speak), you can say, “Merry Christmas, happy holidays, happy Hanukkah, or happy Kwanzaa. 

Where is Christmas celebrated?

Christmas is truly celebrated all over the world — though, the holiday may not look the same in different countries. 


160 countries celebrate Christmas. Americans celebrate Christmas on December 25 (as do citizens of other countries), the Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates Christmas on January 6, Coptic Christmas and Orthodox Christmas are on January 7. 


Christmas is not celebrated in the following countries:


Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bhutan, Cambodia, China (except Hong Kong and Macau), Comoros, Iran, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Laos, Libya, the Maldives, Mauritania, Mongolia, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, the Sahrawi Republic, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Taiwan (Republic of China), Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Yemen.


Of course, there are always exceptions. Many foreigners in the above countries still celebrate Christmas, but the holiday isn’t an official holiday recognized by the government.


Christmas is celebrated in Japan — not really as a religious holiday but as a secular holiday — replete with gift exchanges and Christmas trees.

Inclusive Holiday Greetings

There are many instances when saying, “Merry Christmas,” might not be appropriate. In diverse countries (especially ones where the majority of residents celebrate Christmas), assuming everyone celebrates is offensive.


Even though many who celebrate Christmas do so secularly (and are not Christian), assuming everyone celebrates the holiday isn’t the best way to wish everyone a happy holiday.


If you want to be inclusive, you can always say, “Happy holidays!” Or, you can wish someone a joyful greeting tailored to their own celebrations and traditions. 


While Kwanzaa and Hannukah should never be considered “African-American” or “Jewish” Christmas (these holidays have their own cultural and religious meanings, separate from Christmas; yet, they also happen to take place in the month of December), if it’s one of the eight days of Hannukah or the seven days of Kwanzaa and the recipient of your greeting celebrates, it’s totally appropriate to wish someone a happy Hannukay or happy Kwanzaa.


Just make sure you know the person celebrates the holiday in your greeting. Don’t assume that every African-American celebrates Kwanzaa, and don’t assume everyone from Isreal or a Jewish background celebrates Hannukah. 


When in doubt, simply wish someone a happy holiday, or use a common phrase in another language and forget about the holiday season altogether in your greeting. 


Want to learn how to say want to say Merry Christmas in different languages not listed below — or holiday greetings other than Merry Christmas?


Download Vocre’s translation app. Our app uses voice-to-text and can be used with or without internet access. Simply download the digital dictionary and learn how to say common phrases, words, and sentences in other languages. 


Vocre is available in the Apple Store for iOS and the Google Play Store for Android

Merry Christmas in Different Languages

Ready to learn how to say Merry Christmas in different languages? Learn how to say Merry Christmas in Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, and other common languages. 

Merry Christmas in Spanish

Most English speakers know how to say Merry Christmas in Spanish — probably thanks to the popular holiday song, “Feliz Navidad.”


In Spanish, Feliz means happy and Navidad means Christmas. It’s a simply one-for-one translation from Spanish to English and a common Spanish phrase


Christmas is widely celebrated throughout Latin America, including Mexico (more than 70% of Mexicans are Catholic), Central America, and South America. Spain also hosts many Christmas celebrations, including Epiphany on January 6. 


Merry Christmas in French

If you want to say Merry Christmas in French, you would simply say, “Joyeux Noël.” Unlike Spanish, this is not a word-for-word translation from French to English.


Joyeux means joy and Noël means noel. The Latin meaning of Natalis (which Noël stems from), means birthday. So, Joyeux Noël simply means joyful birthday, as Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ. 

Merry Christmas in Italian

If you want to say Merry Christmas in Italian, you would say, “Buon Natale.” Buon means good and Natale, similar to Noël in French, stems from the Latin word Natalis. 


Experts say that the first Christmas was celebrated in Italy in Rome. So, if you’re celebrating Christmas in this fair country, you are paying homage to the history of the holiday!

Merry Christmas in Japanese

We already know that many Japanese celebrate a secular version of Christmas (similar to how Americans celebrate). If you’re in Japan at Christmastime, you can say, “Merīkurisumasu.” Merī means Merry and kurisumasu means Christmas. 

Merry Christmas in Armenian

Depending on whether you belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church (one of the oldest Christian religions) or not, you may either celebrate Christmas on December 25 or January 6.


If you want to say Merry Christmas in Armenian, you would say, “Shnorhavor Amanor yev Surb Tznund.” This translates to congratulations for the holy birth. 

Merry Christmas in German

Another country that’s known for its extravagant Christmas celebrations is Germany. Thousands of people flock to this country to visit its whimsical Christmas markets for one-of-a-kind gifts, caroling, and hot alcoholic beverages.


If you want to say Merry Christmas in German, you would say, “Frohe Weihnachten.” Frohe means merry and Weihnachten means Christmas — another word-for-word translation!

Merry Christmas in Hawaiian 

The U.S. is so diverse, it makes sense that you might need to learn how to say Merry Christmas in different languages if you want to wish your neighbors a joyful holiday.


One of the states where you may want to wish someone a Merry Christmas in another language is Hawaii. Less than 0.1% of the Hawaiian population speaks Hawaiian, but this greeting is pretty well-known throughout the island — as well as the rest of the U.S.


If you want to say Merry Christmas in Hawaiian, you’d say, “Mele Kalikimaka.” 

8 Things You’ll Need to Travel to France

1. Passport and Photo ID

Of course, you’ll need a passport or visa to visit France. Be sure to apply for either document very early on because they can take weeks or months to obtain. You’ll also want to bring along a photo ID.

The ID should be 45mm x 35mm.

The ID allows you to get yourself a Navigo Pass that allows you to travel around for cheap. It costs just €5 for a pass and you can even purchase packages for the week or month. When you have a pass, it allows you to save money on your travels. But you’ll also need an ID to put on the pass, so be sure to bring it along with you.

2. Cash and Debit Card

Cash, debit or credit cards are all easy ways to gain access to your money in France. Cash is good for those times when you go on a train or have to hail a taxi. If you lose your money, it’s stolen on the train (not uncommon) or you run out of money, locate an ATM.

ATMs are all over France, and the actual bank ATMs often don’t charge fees.

Be on the lookout for signs that say “distributeur automatique de billet” to find the ATM. You’ll also want to alert your bank to your travels ahead of time to reduce the risk of your withdrawal being denied due to suspicious activity.

3. Universal Adapter

The mains or electrical outlet in France may be different than what the electronic items in your home country use. A European adapter will be your best bet and will allow you to convert to France’s plugs easily.

You may also need a power converter that ensures you don’t fry your electronics when you plug them in.

4. Vocre Translator+ Mobile Application

Vocre is the go-to mobile application that helps non-French speakers communicate with locals. If you need to ask questions or order food, Vocre can break through the language barrier with voice and text translations.

Download the app and unlock up to 59 languages in an instant.

You can use voice translation to understand what others are saying while using text translation to communicate back to the person. If you don’t know French at a high level, this is a must-have application.

5. Power Bank

Chances are, you’ll have a smart device on you when you’re traveling around France. Everyone is snapping pictures with their smartphones. The problem is that your phone will eventually need to be charged.

If you’re driving around a lot, you can always charge the phone in the car.

Otherwise, you’ll want to bring a power bank along with you for your trip. A power bank allows you to charge your phone, or other device, on-the-go.

6. Neck Wallet

A lot of tourists try escaping the hustle and bustle of Paris to go to the beautiful French countryside. While there’s a sense of security and safety, one of the biggest mistakes you can make it leaving valuables in plain sight.

Neck wallets can easily be hidden and allow you to keep all of your most important documents on you rather than risk them being stolen.

If you can, leave your luggage at the hotel to avoid being a target in Aix en Provence.

7. France Travel Guide

There’s a lot to see when traveling to France. It’s easy to overlook some of the best tourist destinations and even hidden gems that locals only know about. You can rely on online research, but a France travel guide is often the better option.

A few of the most popular guides are:

  • Rick Steves’ France is a must-have guide for everything, from what to expect when visiting to lodging and even destinations to visit.
  • Lonely Planet France Travel Guide Book provides images and historical information along with a long list of attractions, restaurants and other locations.
  • Frommer’s France Travel Guidebook is great because it lists places to go and avoid.

8. Travel Insurance

Traveling can be one of the best moments in your life, but while you can spend a lot of time planning, things don’t always go as planned. Travel insurance is one of the must-have items to make sure that your dream vacation is never ruined.

Insurance will cover the costs of medical expenses, flight cancellations and even lost or stolen items. When the unexpected occurs, you’ll be glad that you paid for travel insurance.

If you find yourself traveling to France, these eight items will help make your trip even better.

5 Things You’ll Need to Travel to Italy

In fact, many people don’t even think of some of the items that they’ll have to bring along.

For example, don’t know Italian? You might be able to get away with speaking another language in Rome or Naples, but if you go to the “heel of the boot,” or Puglia, you’ll want to bring a voice translation app with you.

If you’re planning to travel to Italy, don’t forget to bring along the following items to make your travels more enjoyable:

1. Electric Adapter and Converter

Italy has three main plug types: C, F and L. If you’re from different parts of the world, your plug likely won’t work in Italy. You’ll also find that the voltage is 230V and 50Hz. What does this mean?

You may need both an adapter and a converter.

The adapter will allow you to use your traditional plug in Italy. A converter is even more important because it is responsible for converting the energy from the outlet into the voltage your devices need to run properly.

If you don’t use a converter, chances are, your electronics will completely short out. So, if you have the latest and greatest phone or laptop, you can say “goodbye” to it unless you use a converter.

2. Euros

When you arrive at the airport, you’ll likely need to take a taxi to get to your hotel room. While more businesses are accepting credit cards, there are a lot that do not. Italians don’t like to pay the extra fees for accepting cards.

You’ll want to exchange your currency for a few euros prior to your first steps in Italy.

ATM machines will often take your debit card and allow you to withdraw some of your balance in euros. You’ll want to be sure to notify the bank prior to going to Italy so that they don’t view your withdrawals as suspicious and put a hold on your account.

3. Voice Translation App

Italians speak Italian. You’ll be able to get away with using a tour guide and staying in hotels where the staff speak Italian, but if you explore outside of these areas, you should use a translation app.

Vocre is a translation app that’s available on Google Play and the App Store.

And since you don’t speak Italian, you’ll speak your native language into the app for instant voice translation. The app will say what you said in your native language back in Italian or any of the 59 languages that can be easily translated to using Vocre.

If you see a sign or need help reading a menu, there’s also a text translation option available. You don’t even need an Internet connection with the app’s subscription service.

4. Dress Clothes – Your Best

If you don’t live in Italy, you might assume that you can get by in your day-to-day clothes. You can, but you’ll also look out of place. Whether you’re going out for an aperitivo (drink) or to eat, you’ll find that even in a trattoria (inexpensive restaurant), people dress extremely well.

Be sure to bring a nice pair of dress shoes, pants and a button-down shirt at the very least if you don’t want to look like you rolled out of bed and decided to go out to dinner.

5. Comfortable Shoes

Walking is a part of Italian travel, whether you plan to walk a lot or not. Traditionally, tourists will wake up, grab something to eat and be on their way to visit sights. And with a country filled with history, one historical location seems to meld into another and you’ll find yourself walking a lot.

If you want to explore markets, you’ll be walking again.

Bring a pair of comfortable shoes or sneakers that you won’t mind wearing for hours on end. Trust me, your feet will thank you if you have a good pair of walking shoes with you,

The next time you travel to Italy, follow this list and you’ll have a much better time during your vacation.

Stages of Culture Shock

Culture shock is a common type of disorientation in a new country, new home, or new cultural setting. It’s very common for international students and immigrants while getting to know a host culture.


While some culture shock is somewhat inevitable, there are ways to minimize the impact this phenomenon has on your experience in your new home.


5 Stages of Culture Shock

The five different stages of culture shock are honeymoon, frustration, adjustment, acceptance, and re-entry. 

The Honeymoon Stage

The first stage of culture shock is initially the ‘honeymoon’ phase. This is (sort of) the best phase of culture shock because you probably aren’t feeling any of the ‘negative’ effects yet.


When you’re in the honeymoon period, you generally love everything about your new surroundings. You’re embracing your curiosity, exploring your new country, and ready for more.


Yet, it can often be the ‘overdoing’ of the honeymoon phase that can lead to the negative effects of culture shock. When you go all in and immerse yourself in another culture, it’s common to start feeling fatigued. 


What once were exciting new challenges can often become minor hindrances and grow into major annoyances. 

The Frustration Stage

The first ‘negative’ phase of culture shock is frustration. We all get frustrated by our day-to-day lives, but this frustration can be even more upsetting when we’re immersed in a new culture.


In our home culture, we often get frustrated when we’re not heard, can’t communicate, or feel invisible. These frustrations can feel exaggerated when we’re in a new culture. Not only are we dealing with everyday annoyances, but we’re dealing with these annoyances at a ‘level 10’ instead of a normal level.


Frustration can manifest in a host country through language miscommunications and cultural differences.


You might even feel frustrated because you don’t know your way around, are unfamiliar with the transportation system, and find yourself getting lost all the time.

The Adjustment Stage

The adjustment stage is when things start getting a little bit better. You’re getting used to your new surroundings and getting a hang of local languages. 


While you might not feel like a local, you’re starting to get used to the differences between your way of life and your host country’s. 

The Acceptance Stage

The final stage of culture shock is acceptance and assimilation. This usually happens after a few days, weeks, or months after arriving (often depending on how long you plan on staying).


Acceptance is when you finally start feeling like one of the locals. This often happens when you least expect it!


You suddenly understand how the public transportation system works, you start ‘getting’ inside jokes, and the language is less of a struggle. It may take years to fully integrate into a new culture, but you probably will still feel more comfortable during this stage than you did in previous stages.

Re-Entry Culture Shock

One more type of culture shock happens when you return home to your own culture. This is a type of reverse culture shock. 


You may feel like your own home culture simply doesn’t fit your lifestyle anymore or that friends and family don’t ‘get’ you. This is extremely common when traveling between developing and developed nations. 


It may take days, weeks, or months to feel normal again. This common type of culture shock simply shows you that you’re not the same person you were when you left your home country. 

Tips for Preventing Culture Shock

If you’re worried about culture shock (or are already feeling the effects of it), there are some ways to make your transition a little easier. 


Learn the Language

Before you head to your new home, start learning the language. Even if the locals speak your first language, you’ll want to start learning a few words and phrases to help you communicate.


Download a translation app to help you learn some of the most basic words and phrases. Apps like Vocre (available on Google Play for Android or the Apple Store for iOS) provide voice and text translation and can even be used offline. You can use these types of apps to learn the language before you leave home — as well as to help you to communicate with locals. 

Avoid Expectations

It’s totally common to have expectations of a new culture. Yet, most of our pain and suffering comes from unhealthy expectations and our realities failing to live up to such expectations. 


If you’re moving to Paris, you might expect to eat baguettes every day while strolling along the Champs-Élysées, speaking French to everyone you meet. While in reality, you end up finding out you hate French food, can’t communicate with locals, and get lost on the Metro at every turn. 


It’s important to let go of expectations before moving to a new country. The idea of the culture and the reality are often two completely different experiences.

Join Local Expat Groups

One reason many ex-pats find themselves in isolation is that it’s hard to understand what it feels like to be a stranger in a strange land — unless you’ve done it yourself. Many locals don’t understand culture shock because they’ve never experienced an immersion in a different culture.


One way to find a crew that understands your frustration is to join an ex-pat group. These groups are comprised of ex-pats from around the globe and other cultures, so you’re likely to find a few friends that remind you of home.

Embrace Reminders of Home

Even if you’re planning on moving to another country forever, you’ll still want to ease into any different culture. Don’t forget to bring some reminders of home with you.


While discovering ​new foods is always fun, you’ll still want to enjoy the food that reminds you of home. Search for ingredients to make food from your own culture. Introduce your own culture’s traditions to your new friends. Don’t forget to call friends and family back home.


Culture shock isn’t always easy to deal with, and it’s usually somewhat inevitable. Luckily, there are ways to make the transition a little easier.

8 Things You’ll Need to Travel to Europe

how to pack for a trip to Europe

1. Essential Travel Documents

To travel to Europe, you’ll need all of your essential travel documents, like:

  • Your passport or visa
  • Flight information
  • International Driving Permit (if you plan to rent a car)
  • Car rental confirmation
  • Hotel confirmations

It’s a good idea to have backup copies of your documents (digital or physical) just in case you lose the originals. If you don’t want to worry about losing physical backup copies, you can scan your documents and email them to yourself for easy access anywhere, anytime.

2. Translation App

translation app for traveling

Although English is widely spoken in many major cities throughout Europe, it’s helpful to have a translation app on hand to speak with locals or when traveling to places off the beaten path.

Vocre (available for iPhones and Android devices) makes it easy to communicate with people who don’t speak your native language. Just speak into your smartphone, and Vocre will instantly translate to your chosen language (pick from 59 different languages).

With an app like Vocre on hand, you don’t have to feel intimidated about traveling to areas where you may not find English speakers. It also allows you to have meaningful conversations with locals to truly immerse yourself in the local culture. At the end of the day, that’s what traveling is all about, isn’t it? Meeting new people and learning about their life experiences. Vocre helps you do just that.

3. Cash

Credit cards are generally accepted throughout Europe, especially in cities. However, you never know where and when you may need cash, so make sure that you have some on you at all times.

The simplest way to get cash is to use an ATM while you’re abroad. Withdraw money as needed every few days. You can still use your credit card if you wish, but be mindful of any currency exchange fees or foreign transaction fees you may incur.

4. Travel Plug Adapter

traveling plugin adapterAt some point during your trip, you’re going to have to recharge your smartphone. You’ll need a travel plug adapter if you’re traveling from a country outside of Europe.

All-in-one adapters are a great option (different European countries use different plugs), and many of them also have USB ports to make phone charging even easier.

If you need to plug in any devices while traveling in Europe, don’t leave home without your plug adapter. Amazon has a lot of great travel adapter kits.

5. Comfortable Walking Shoes

If you truly want to experience Europe, you’ll need to do a lot of walking. Virtually all European cities are walkable. You’ll be spending most of your days on hard sidewalks and cobblestones. Make sure that you pack a pair (or two) of comfortable walking shoes.

Slip-on sneakers are great for sightseeing. If the weather is right, sandals will keep your feet comfortable and cool. Leave your athletic shoes at home (unless you’re hiking) and stick to a basic comfortable sneaker.

6. International Phone Plan

While traveling through Europe, you’ll still want to stay connected. Whether it’s to call the hotel to ask a question or check in with a loved one back home, having cell service while you’re abroad can be incredibly convenient (and necessary).

If your phone can be used abroad, consider using an international phone plan while you’re away.

Most major carriers have special international or travel plans that will allow you to stay connected without racking up fees. If switching to one of these plans isn’t an option, expect to rely heavily on Wi-Fi while you’re away to send messages or keep in touch.

7. Filtering Water Bottle

filtering water bottle for travelingMost European destinations have excellent water that’s perfectly safe to drink, but if you’d rather play it safe, a filtering water bottle is a great option. Packing a filtering water bottle will help you avoid plastic water bottles and ensure that you always have clean drinking water on hand.

Many filtering water bottles will remove E. coli, Salmonella and other impurities that can make you sick. Even though you probably won’t have to worry about drinking the tap water, it’s still convenient and handy to carry around your own water bottle. Many European cities have drinking fountains where you can refill your bottle and save some cash in the process. Here’s the Brita Filtering water bottle you can pickup at Target.

8. Helpful Apps

Before you head out on your European adventure, take the time to download any helpful apps that you may need, such as:

You can download these once you arrive, but in all of the excitement of the trip ahead, you may forget something you may need later on. If you already have all of the apps you’ll need during your trip, you can spend more time enjoying your trip and less time glued to a screen.

These are just eight of the many essentials you’ll want to take on your trip to Europe. Of course, the basics – comfortable clothes, toiletries, etc. – should be on your list. But try not to overdo it. The less baggage you have, the easier it will be to roam and enjoy all that Europe has to offer.

7 Things You’ll Need to Travel to Spain

traveling to spain

1. Power Adapter

spain power adapter kitElectrical outlets in the United States and other countries are different than the ones in Spain. When you plug in your items, you’ll plug into an outlet that produces 230V at 50 Hz. The prongs are also type C or F.

Travelers will want to look for a power adapter that will allow them to use their respective electronics in Spain.

At 230V, a lot of the lower voltage electronics will break if they were able to be plugged into these outlets. The converter you choose should also change the frequency so that you can use your electronics safely.

Take a look at your electronic labels to see what is required. If your label says 100-240V and 50/60Hz, it can be used anywhere in the world.

2. Travel Documents

Depending on where you live, you may or may not need a visa when visiting Spain. Since Spain is part of the EU, all visitors from Europe can come and go freely. United States visitors are part of the Schengen Agreement that allows them to stay in the country for up to 90 days without a visa.

You should bring a passport, driver’s license and any pet documentation (if you brought your pet along). If in the EU, you’ll need a pet passport and must have a microchip or clearly visible tattoo for pets. Health certificates, import permit, vaccine documents and other documents are needed for non-EU members.

3. Download the Vocre Translator+ App

translation app for traveling

Want to make lifelong friends, order food or converse with locals? It’s hard to do that if you haven’t mastered Spanish. When traveling to Spain, knowing some phrases can help. But unless you have a lot of experience with speaking, you’ll find that you can’t hold high-level conversations.

Vocre is a translation app that breaks the language barriers you’ll face in Spain.

As a language translator, all you have to do is “hit record,” say what you want, and Vocre translates it to text. You can accept the text by tilting the phone, and Vocre’s speech will say what you want to for you.

It’s fast and easy to translate from multiple languages to Spanish.

When there are no language barriers, you can hail a taxi, speak to an Airbnb host or get around town easier. It’s the perfect way to truly experience all that Spain has to offer.

Download the mobile app for translating on Android or iOS for free.

4. Cash

Spain has a robust credit card system and accepts almost all credit cards, but there are some exceptions. Taxis, for example, are a hit or miss, with some accepting credit cards and others not accepting them.

The card also must appear as the same name on your passport. Michael cannot be shortened to Mike, and vice versa.

Carrying around some cash for the rare occurrence that you can’t use a credit card or debit card is recommended. Spain uses the euro, and the easiest way to exchange your currency is by using a debit card at an ATM. Banks, hotels and travel agencies will often have easy ways for you to exchange your currency.

5. Comfortable Walking Sneakers

Spain is beautiful, with beaches, historical sites and a lot of nature to see. A lot of people visit with their best attire for a night out on the town, and while this is a good idea, don’t forget to bring along your comfortable walking shoes, too.

There are beautiful walks all throughout the country, including in:

  • Catalonia, where rocky mountain trails and wetlands are plentiful
  • Spanish Pyrenees, where you can walk through the Monte Perdido National Park
  • Alicante, where beautiful almond and citrus groves are abundant

And when walking around city centers and town, you’ll need a comfortable pair of shoes unless you rely heavily on the taxi services to get around.

6. Travel Towel and Tote

Tourists and locals alike flock to the beautiful beaches of Spain. Resorts speckle these areas, and you’ll also find an array of nightclubs and shops to browse. Beautiful beaches are all around the country, but you’ll find the most frequented include:

  • Rodas Beach – one of the most beautiful, often listed as the best, beach with beautiful white sand beaches and blue water
  • Playa de Ses Illetes, located in Formentera, which is a more tranquil setting without the party life of Ibiza
  • La Concha Beach, located in San Sebastian, offers a beautiful cityscape and a party atmosphere with bars and nightclubs nearby

A travel towel and tote allows you to “beach hop.” You’ll find most of the popular beaches have high-end amenities minus some that are in smaller cities where people go to escape the crowds.

7. Neck Wallet

traveler's neck wallet

Spain, like many countries in Europe, has a problem with pickpockets. Locals will spot a tourist and steal their wallets and anything they have inside of them. One way to avoid this is to wear a neck wallet that you keep under your shirt.

Keep all of your important items in here, including debit cards, passport and cash. Keeping it under your shirt also keeps you safer.

Spain offers something for everyone, from beautiful scenery to good food, affordable prices and a rich history. If you bring along a few items from our list above, traveling to Spain will be even better – if that’s possible.

Studying Abroad Tricks and Tips

Studying abroad is an unforgettable experience. So much so that you’re probably not too worried about having a great time. Yet, studying abroad can also be a cruel mistress — there are myriad things that could easily put a cramp in your style. Follow these tips to have a great year away from home.


Studying Abroad Dos and Don’ts

Do try to meet as many people as possible; don’t forget to schedule a little time for rest and relaxation.


Do try foods native to your destination country; don’t spend your trip eating foods from home.


Do try to learn the language of your destination country; don’t spend your entire year abroad studying in your room.


Do use common sense to stay safe; don’t spend your entire trip worrying about every little thing.


Do ask for help when you need it; don’t avoid going outside of your comfort zone.


Meet as Many People as Possible

Half the reason to study abroad is to meet as many new people as possible. You don’t want to travel halfway around the world (or to the other side of the world) only to spend your time in your dorm, watching “Game of Thrones.” 


Sign up for as many activities as you possibly can. Try to meet as many people as possible from other countries. 


That being said, don’t burn yourself out, either. Don’t forget to schedule some downtime for recharging your batteries.


Don’t Be Shy About the Cuisine

Yes, you’ll probably miss your favorite Italian American dish that only one restaurant in your town knows how to cook ‘just so.’ You’re going to have bizarre cravings for snacks and cereals you never even knew you liked. 


Don’t forget to try new things. Eat the national dish of your destination country. Try all the weird snacks at corner stores. 


Learn the Language as Fast as Possible

You won’t need to be fluent in another language before signing up for a study-abroad program. But you will want to make an attempt to learn the language of your destination. Don’t have time to learn a language in a few days? Download a language app to help break the language barriers.


Stay Safe

When it comes to staying safe in your destination, it’s all about research. 


Find out what neighborhoods are safe and which should be avoided. Don’t carry tons of cash in your wallet. Wear your backpack on your chest in the metro. Research local scams so you can find out how to avoid them. Don’t wander around in uncrowded areas alone.


Don’t Forget You’re There to Work

One of the biggest mishaps of a study abroad year is forgetting you’re there to work. Failing to complete assignments and missing classes is almost too easy when you’re trying to make memories that last a lifetime. 


Many American students also often find themselves on their own for the first time — in countries without a legal drinking age.


Take it slow. You have your entire life to have fun. But you only have one chance to study abroad. Make the most of your trip by staying focused and making your studies your first priority.


Document Your Trip

Whether your preferred method of documentation is Snapchat, a diary, a blog or Instagram Stories, don’t forget to document your trip.


While a year might seem like a long time, it’s actually not very long at all. It will go by much faster than you expect. 


Pack Smart

It’s tempting to want to pack your entire wardrobe for a year of travel. After all, you’ll need a year’s worth of clothes. Who knows when you might need your shiniest dress, covered in sequins. Or, your favorite sweatpants or your homecoming sweater.


Pack as little as possible. Don’t forget that you can always buy more when you get to your destination. You can also have items shipped to you. 


Ask for Help

At some point during your trip, you’re going to need to ask for help from someone. Whether it’s your roommate for help on your homework or your guidance counselor for advice on handling culture shock, it will probably happen. It’s OK to need help. It’s a sign of strength — not weakness.


Learn to Adapt to Living With Others

Learning to live with others isn’t easy. It’s even harder abroad than it is at home. You’re going to end up living with people from other cultures and countries. Your roommate will probably have different customs than the ones you’re used to. What’s considered rude in the U.S. might be common practice in other countries — and vice versa.


The more flexible you are at adapting to change, the easier it will be to get to the fun part of living abroad.


Reconsider Your Long-Distance Relationship

We hate to be cliché, but your long-distance relationship might not last more than a few months — and it’s going to end up holding you back. You don’t want to regret passing on bonding with your new classmates because you have a phone date with your boyfriend or girlfriend back home. 


You also don’t want to stay in a long-distance relationship because you realize you’ve missed your chance to make friendships with your classmates.


Instead, give your full attention to your studying-abroad experience.


Communicating With Other Cultures

Communicating across cultures can be tricky for many reasons. When you’re speaking in a language that isn’t your first language, you’re more likely to run into miscommunication and cultural barriers. Luckily, there are a few ways you can curb some of this uncomfortable confusion. 

Tips for Communicating With Other Cultures

No matter what cultural group you plan on communicating with, chances are that your experience will differ from communicating with someone from your own culture. These tips will get the convo started.

1. Learn About Other Cultures

The first step to communicating with other cultures is to actually do a little recon. Researching someone’s cultural background shows that you’re interested in them — and it’s considered extremely polite in the eyes of many cultures around the world!


Do a little research on foods, customs, and basic phrases. Learning Spanish? Rent a few Spanish-language movies on Netflix! Even if you plan on speaking in your native language, you’ll look like a rockstar to the other person. It also shows you have respect for cultural diversity.

2. Memorize Common Phrases in Other Languages

One of the best tips for learning a new language is to learn the most common phrases first.


Learning common phrases in another language is an easy(ish) way to show others you’re willing to meet them halfway. In many cultures, it’s considered polite to try to understand the native language (even just a few words of it). This can also help you get your foot in the door with another person.


Common words and phrases you might want to learn include:



Understanding these very simple phrases can help bridge the gap between cultures and take some of the pressure off others. Luckily, there are plenty of resources for learning common Chinese phrases, common French phrases, and common phrases in other languages. 

3. Download a Translation App

Translation apps have come a long way in the past few years alone. (Yet, some free apps, like Google Translate, aren’t as accurate as many paid apps.) 


These days, you can translate words, phrases, and even entire sentences. These apps are a great way to help learn new words and phrases as well.


Imagine you’re having a conversation in a language you’re not fluent in — or, having a conversation in your native language with a non-fluent speaker. You’re getting by just fine. Just fine until you can’t figure out how to say ‘clothes hanger’ in Spanish, and your miming skills aren’t doing the trick.


Using a translation app can help get you past a hurdle that might otherwise be too high to cross. The Vocre app can translate words, sentences, and phrases in real-time! Get it on the Apple store or Google Play.


Heading on a last-minute trip? Check out the best travel apps for last-minute travel!

4. Use Basic Language

One of the most common communication challenges is word choice. 


Within our own culture, we’re so used to the way people speak colloquially. Even when you travel to different areas of the U.S., you’ll find a wide variety of slang and jargon. 


In the Midwest, locals ask for a can of pop (instead of soda); on the East Coast, residents might say something is ‘wicked’ good instead of ‘really’ good. On the West Coast, locals often use the phrase ‘tennis shoes’ to mean any type of sneakers.


Try not to use jargon or slang when speaking in a language that isn’t your first language — or when speaking to someone whose first language isn’t the same as yours. 


Most students learn slang and colloquialism only after they learn the most common phrases and words. Try to think about the types of words you learned first when learning a new language. 


Communication strategies such as these can prevent your listener from feeling overwhelmed or confused. 

5. Improve Your Own Communication Skills 

It’s easy to just assume that someone doesn’t understand or ‘get’ you because of a language barrier. But we so very rarely get the opportunity to be good listeners and good communicators. 


Try to be an active listener. Don’t just absorb what the other person is saying; try to actively listen and determine if you’re understanding the other person. Pay attention to both verbal and nonverbal cues. Use nonverbal cues (such as nods or head tilts) to convey understanding or confusion.

6. Speak Slowly and Enunciate 

People from many English speaking countries are used to talking fast, but this type of speech pattern can create even more language barriers. 


Speak slowly (but not so slowly that your listener feels talked down to) and enunciate your words.


It isn’t easy understanding someone whose accent is very different from yours. The U.S. alone has hundreds of local accents! 


Imagine if you’re from Japan and learned to speak English from a British teacher. Listening to a person with a heavy Maine accent might not even sound like English to you. 

7. Encourage Clarification Feedback

Sometimes we think someone understands our words — when that isn’t the case at all. In the same sense, it’s easy for others to assume they understand us and miss our message altogether. 


Encourage your listener to offer feedback and ask for clarification. Many cultures see asking questions as rude, and some cultures will wait until you stop speaking to ask for clarification. 


Ask for feedback often to avoid confusion.

8. Don’t Use Complex Sentence Structure

Many of us are used to speaking the way we do with our friends, family, and colleagues — not people from other cultures. We often use big words and complex sentence structures (even though these complex structures might not seem so complicated to us!)


If you’re speaking in your native language, gauge the tone of your partner in conversation, and try to match that person’s language level of complexity. This way, you won’t leave others in the dark, and you won’t offend other people by ‘talking down’ to them. 

9. Don’t Ask Yes or No Questions

One of the biggest mistakes in cross-cultural communication is asking too many yes or no questions. Some cultures consider it bad manners to use negative language, such as the word ‘no’. 


In some areas of the world, such as Mexico City, you’ll find that locals avoid saying ‘no’ altogether. Instead of saying no, many locals simply shake their heads no, smile, and say thank you instead. 


It isn’t easy avoiding yes or no questions, but this tactic is a great communication tool in general. Instead of asking someone if they have any questions, say, “Can you highlight anything I might have missed?”

10. Notice Body Language — But Don’t Judge Based on It

It’s easy to just assume that someone understands you. In many cultures, we’re used to students raising their hands and interrupting the teacher. Yet, many cultures won’t interrupt, so it’s up to the speaker to notice body language and adjust the message accordingly.


Notice facial expressions and other nonverbal communication cues. If a listener looks confused, try to rephrase your statement. If your listener laughs seemingly inappropriately at a comment, don’t just gloss over that. You may have used a sentence structure or word that means something completely different to someone from another culture.


That being said, don’t assume a response is negative or positive simply based on body language, as body language can have different messages within different cultures.

11. Never ‘Talk Down’ to Someone in Your Native Language

It’s easy to want to overexplain. Overexplaining often comes from a good place, but it can have negative effects. 


Try to gauge the other person’s comfort level and language experience. If you’re speaking in your native language, strike a balance of clear, concise speech. 


Overexplaining can sometimes come off as speaking down to someone — especially when that person isn’t a native speaker of your language. You might want to gauge the other person’s comprehension level before assuming he or she won’t understand you. 


Many people from other cultures are often spoken down to (especially when speaking English) because the native speaker simply assumes he or she won’t understand.

12. Be Kind to Yourself and Others

It’s important to have plenty of patience when you’re speaking to someone in a language that isn’t your first language (or when you’re speaking to someone who isn’t speaking their first language!). 


When it comes to communication of any kind (cross-cultural communication or not), don’t rush. 


Cultural differences are always going to seem more prevalent at the moment. Don’t rush to speak, don’t rush to respond, and don’t rush to judge. 

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