Here’s some advice. Do not attempt to express your opinion on economic and/or political topics in an international crowd when you don’t speak the language very well. Especially if you are an American.
The students in my Portuguese class include a young Spanish woman, a Swiss guy, a young Danish woman, a German guy and a man who is French or Italian (or both). Yesterday we were asked to bring in an article to explain and discuss with the class. I brought an article about a proposal to increase the minimum wage in Brazil.
Now it’s not like I don’t want the poor in Brazil to make more money. I just think it’s a more complicated issue than the politicians (carelessly trying to influence the working class vote) who propose it make it out to be. Forcing individuals and businesses to pay employees a certain rate, without adjusting other variables, can be a recipe for disaster. However, using my second-grade level vocabulary, I just made myself look like an A-hole that wants to take advantage of cheap labor.
And then, when the teacher went around the room asking each person what the minimum wage was in their home country, and I didn’t know, but instead chose to try and make a joke about the minimum wage in the banking industry (fyi – no one laughed, apparently still a touchy topic across the globe), I was the Big A-hole.
When all was said (unfortunately) and done, the room had grown uncomfortably somber. As you might imagine, after the class they all went to lunch together and didn’t ask me to join. (big surprise)
The young woman from Spain who sits next to me brought in an article about a cat. I think she studied fashion but now wants to do something else. She smokes five cigarettes on the breaks. Everybody likes her.
Just being ignorant, especially in a situation in which your intellectual opinion has absolutely no relevance and extra especially if you already sound ignorant in the language, is sometimes bliss. Who knew? Lesson learned.