The Language Project: Hello, Thank You

A travel DIY project that brings the languages of your trips back home with you.

Now that I’m decorating a new space in San Francisco (yay!) and coming up on the one year anniversary of my best-trip-ever departure date, I am always looking for ways to incorporate my love of travel into my home.

While I’m a fan of maps, globes, and photographs, they can only go so far without being overused in a room.  After some thought, I created a piece that can memorably display any multi-country trip.

language project

Holding up to the light to trace each word by hand.

In the past year, I was fortunate enough to visit sixteen countries —  totaling thirteen different languages spoken.  I continue to treasure many of the traditions and keepsakes I kept consistent with each visit.

One of my favorite things to do in each new country was learn how to speak the bare necessities of the local language: “hello” and “thank you.”  While I always hope to learn more than this, I find these two words to be the most useful in any language on any part of the globe.  (They’re also the two words I can always still remember from each place.)

In the spirit of this tradition, I decided to create a graphic containing the words as written in the language of each country I visited.  As I journeyed across Asia, the Middle East, and Europe…the end result is quite visually interesting, if you ask me!

What:  A display of a word or phrase in the language of each country visited (in order of the visits.)  Affectionately named “The Language Project.”

Why:  It reminds me of my trip.  It looks cool.  It makes me happy.

How:  Using Google Translate, and searching for other sites when script is unavailable (Burmese and Khmer, for example.)  Copied each to a document, printed, and traced by hand.

I prefer to trace by hand as it adds a bit more of a personal touch (and it’s a fun way to experience the intricacies of each script.)


language project end result

In order: Cantonese, Vietnamese, Khmer, Lao, Thai, Burmese, Hindi, Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish, Greek, Italian, French.

I have a friend returning from a trip to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam and I plan to create a smaller version with each country’s name in its script for him.  Another idea is to create one that displays a word from the language of each country you have visited in all your life.  Even better would be one of these that you could add to as you expand your travels!

How do you decorate your home with memories of your travels?

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  1. great idea! (have you seen the chick who tats her back with a phrase in each language of the countries she visits?)

    our decorating style is quite …um, eclectic? That’s the classy way of saying it’s helter skelter with no rhyme or reason — but it does bring in the warmth and favorites of the amazing things we’ve collected over the years (and yes, with too many globes!)

    Two fun ways we acknowledge our travels is with a modpodged coffee table that has maps of our travels (Mia is currently working on it) AND our clocks around the world “installation” — we have five clocks in our kitchen that represent Delhi, Singapore, Kenya, EST and CST

    • Who is the girl with the language tats? That’s awesome.
      I love the map table (need to see a picture when it’s done!) and I also have four clocks in my office with different time zones! Great minds think alike 🙂
      Thanks for sharing about your decorating style! The warmth and favorites you mentioned are all you need, if you ask me.


    I just found your blog after falling down a rabbit hole of links and I love this idea so much. I’m definitely going to do something with this when I find a place to live.

    Off to hopefully find more cool stuff here!

    • Hi Olivia! I’m so glad you like this idea 🙂 I am a bit of language geek and I clearly love to express my love of travel in my home, so this was the intersection of two things I can’t resist!
      If you have ideas or comments on what you’d like to see more of on the blog, I am all ears 🙂
      Cheers and thanks for stopping by!

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