A British backpacker has been complimented on her English speaking skills and told that she “almost” sounds like she is fluent in the language.
The incident occurred in room three at the Mission Beach Retreat backpacking hostel in Queensland, Australia when 37 year old Caroline Gough from North Devon entered into a conversation with her two newest roommates.
Caroline explained “When you meet new roommates, the conversation is pretty predictable, everyone talks about where they’ve been and where they’re going, and these girls were going to Magnetic Island next, which is where I’ve just come from. They hadn’t booked a hostel yet, and they wanted to know what the koala park was like, so I was telling them all about my experiences, although I did leave out the bit about doing an science experiment to test if the island really was magnetic because that’s not really the sort of thing you share in the first conversation with a new person.”
But instead of thanking Caroline for her advice or asking any further questions, the girls who come from Ludwigsburg near Stuttgart in Germany instead honed in on the way she had delivered the information.
“One of the girls said that she was really impressed with my English skills and that I sounded as if I was almost fluent,” said Caroline. “She asked how long I’d been learning English and when I said I’d been learning it all my life she said it was really great that I’d had the opportunity to start at such a young age.”
It then emerged that the girls believed Caroline was from Sweden.
“When I explained that I was actually from England, both girls insisted quite vehemently that they had both assumed I was Swedish, as if a simple two-against-one scenario meant that I was outvoted and they knew more about my ancestry and upbringing than I did.”
Caroline who spent five days in Gothenburg in 2011 said “As far as I know, this is the first time that I have been mistaken for a Scandinavian.”
Caroline admits that during her travels her hair has become much longer and blonder than usual which might fit the stereotypical Swedish look. “However, I would have thought that as soon as I started speaking, it would be obvious that I’m not from Sweden,” she said.
Caroline who scored a grade A for her English Language A level and went on to gain an honours degree in English Language and Linguistics at university said “Obviously I’m going to need to work a bit harder on my speaking skills if I want other backpackers to believe that I am truly fluent in my native tongue.”
She added “Luckily I can also speak very rusty German, so I think I’ll just use that if the girls from Ludwigsburg speak to me again. I don’t think they will though. It seems that me not being Swedish has really annoyed them.”