How Google helps me communicate in the Middle East

So far we love life here in Saudi Arabia. The landscape is gorgeous. We live on the coast next to beautiful beaches. Of course there is sand but we aren’t riding camels around in a desert. We live in a compound where nearly everyone speaks English. Actually, the Saudis I’ve met prefer it. However, communication barriers do pop up and it’s technology that I lean on for assistance.

This past week I spent five nights in the hospital watching over my daughter. She caught a horrible stomach flu that’s going around and it really messed with her hypoglycemia. The doctors and nurse staff are wonderful but the rooms are not private. We shared a room with a Saudi mother and her five-month-old little girl. Due to the culture men are not allowed to stay the night so after visitation hours I spent all my time with this woman. I immediately lGoogle_Translate_iOS_logoiked her. I could tell she was a good mother to her child. One time my daughter woke both of us up in the middle of the night. She was throwing up. There was little I could do to help her so I talked to her and rubbed her back. The Saudi mother came over to our side of the room and sat with me. We couldn’t speak but just having someone there was comforting.

That next night I turned to technology for help. I’ve often used Google Translate to translate quotes or questions from International readers of my columns. It’s efficient and easy and there is a free app! My new friend and I stayed up talking with each other thanks to Google Translate. This truly made a horrible stay in the hospital more tolerable. I made a friend despite communication barriers and learned even more about a culture.

Technology helps us in work, social communication and our daily lives. It is my goal to learn Arabic, which I’ve been warned is really hard but until I have it down I’ll turn to Google Translate for help.

What app or technology have you recently discovered? How does it help you?

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