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Could you ask for help in a foreign language?

To my shame I don’t speak any other languages, however since my cancer diagnosis whenever I travel to a foreign county I always make sure that I learn a few important phrases in the language of the country I’m visiting, such as how to ask for help in an emergency, the name of my medication and my condition. I also carry a letter from my doctor with my initial diagnosis and my treatment to date.

This can help if you do need medical treatment for something not related to your underlying medical condition, it’s best to be able to let doctors know what medication you are taking and what treatments you have had just in case what they are about to prescribe reacts with the medication you are already taking.

This is also advice we recommend to all of our cancer travel insurance and medical-travel-insurance customers, although our appointed Emergency Medical Assistance team will liaise with doctors on your behalf if you don’t speak the language of the country you are visiting, as much information you can provide up front is always helpful.

Some other phrases or word you should also really learn are:

Hello: an obvious one, but very important and will make you sound like you are at least making an effort.

Thank you: another obvious one and equally as important as hello.

Do you speak English (or any other language you speak): most people in foreign countries have knowledge of at least two languages, you might strike lucky!

No or no thank you: you will need this for bartering in any market places or with street sellers.

How much: again very important, it may be a bargain after all!

Where is the toilet: I don’t need to explain this one especially if you are travelling with young children.

And last but no means CHEERS! If you learn this or something similar it can cover a multitude of sins.

Posted on: Jan 29, 2013

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