My First Time Using Italian in Rome
I visited Rome for the first time this Spring. I tried to prepare by learning the basics of Italian, but the trip was planned on rather short notice so I didn't have time to learn much more than a few common phrases.
This was my first time being immersed in a foreign language. It was much more bewildering and difficult than I'd expected it to be, even though most of the Italians I met spoke some English.
One day, I attempted to use one of the pay toilets in the train station. You have to pay to get into the toilet - something like .50 Euro - and then the doors will open for you to access the facilities.
Since I couldn't read Italian, I did what I would have done in an American or British toilet: I dropped my money in the machine and pushed my way through the door.
As soon as I was through the door, the elderly Italian bathroom attendant ran after me, shouting and waving her arms. She guided me back to the pay terminal, which I had apparently failed to operate correctly. She took me through the steps to pay, speaking in very rapid Italian, and I didn't catch more than a few words.
She finally got annoyed enough with me that she took my money from me and dropped it in herself to operate the door for me.
As I was on my way out of the facilities, I shouted to her one of my few well-known Italian phrases: "Mi dispiace!" or "I'm sorry!"