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10 Amazing Things Only People Who Have Overseas Friends Would Understand

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10 Amazing Things Only People Who Have Overseas Friends Would Understand

Human beings not only enjoy the company of others, we thrive on the different types of social interactions with other members of the community.

Having tight bonds with the right people in our lives is very important, and the more friends you have the more you open yourself up for great opportunities. The beautiful thing about modern technology is that you can stay in touch with people from across the globe that you may have only spent a few days with during a holiday.

Even if you have a tight-knit group of good friends at home, it can be both fun and beneficial to nurture your friendship with an overseas friend.

Whether they are a good friend that has moved away or someone you befriended online, there are a lot of amazing things that come with a long-distance friendship.

1. You get a new appreciation for your hometown

A lot of people don’t make an effort to set aside some funds for traveling because they aren’t really motivated. Well, having a friend who lives abroad is a great motivating factor when it comes to traveling, and taking a break from your everyday surroundings can help you deal with stress, make you more creative and give you a new perspective.

When you’ve been away from your hometown for a month visiting a friend, those streets you used to walk on every day suddenly seem a bit different. You learn to appreciate all the little things that you can’t find anywhere else, particularly the food.

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2. You don’t have to spend a fortune on accommodations

As someone who used to travel to the UK every now and then, I quickly learned that the Brits have a long history of very high property prices, and they aren’t willing to give up their living space for pocket change.

A student or anyone else working with a tight budget would be lucky to have friend that they could stay with, as you end up exchanging a few small gifts and pitching in for meals – I went with a couple of bottles of local booze –  in return for having a roof over your head for a few weeks. It’s quite a good deal.

3. You get to learn a whole lot and even change certain views

Nothing changes your views on common stereotypes and teaches you valuable life lessons quite as effectively as spending some time in a significantly different culture.

We’ve always heard rumors about the British being prudish and cold, but all those preconceived notions went down the drain when I sat down to drink with a few Londoners and we had a bunch of laughs, constantly teasing each other.

My British friend also had a chance to experience some of the finer sides of Serbian culture – notably the hospitality, great food and partying – and was pleasantly surprised by the distinct lack of tribal barbarians and 30 year old technology that everyone imagines they’ll find in Eastern Europe.

4. You have an instant fact-check option for different cultures

Don’t get me wrong, Google is a great fact-checking tool, but it’s sometimes best to get the info straight from the horse’s mouth.

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When you have an overseas friend you end up sending them Skype messages with the strangest inquiries, e.g. about European castles, that whole Royal with Cheese business, this strange thing they call Marmite and all the little urban myths someone read online.

5. You pick up foreign languages, which can be a useful skill

Even if you’ve never picked up a foreign dictionary or grammar book, being around someone that speaks another language or having regular conversations online, makes it incredibly easy to pick up a language, and not just one language either.

I learned quite a few useful Spanish phrases when I visited Ireland, because I befriended a cool Spanish guy named Adrian – and yes, we did yell “Yo, Adrian” a bunch of times – on top of learning to sing a few verses in Gaelic.

You can find people from all over the world in the places you least expect them and quickly improve your communication skills.

6. You learn some incredible recipes

Did you know that Italian pizza is nothing like what we commonly eat, and that once you’ve tried olive oil and Greek yogurt in Greece, you’ll never be satisfied with the stuff you can get at your local supermarket?

Trying the local food the way it was meant to be prepared, using quality local ingredients and cooking methods is truly an eye-opening experience.

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If your foreign friend knows his or her way around the kitchen, or has a friend or family member who’s a good cook, you’ll take home a bunch of delicious recipes and some of those authentic local ingredients that make them work.

7. You receive the coolest gifts when they come visit

There are plenty of talented people and good companies making high-quality goods that don’t really have the means to expand globally. You’d be surprised by how much you’re actually missing.

The good thing about this is that when your friends come to visit, they will bring some very cool and unique gifts that no one else in your area has ready access to. I

It can be anything from great sweets and snacks, to interesting items of clothing, gadgets and tools. These things can be great conversation pieces and will become some of your most cherished possessions.

8. You always have someone to talk to in those late hours of the night

The worst thing about being a night owl is that if you get bored or some of those negative thoughts start creeping in and you need someone to talk to, you’re pretty much out of luck. Very few people are going to be willing to have a friendly chat with you at 3-4 am, but your overseas friend might have just finished breakfast or has a few hours to kill before going to sleep.

The time difference allows you to call them up in the weirdest of times and have some great sincere conversations.

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9. You get incredible networking opportunities

Staying in touch with people from different corners of the world means traveling, frequent phone calls, getting to know a different culture and language, and coming in contact with all sorts of interesting people in the process.

Your friend’s family and friends become your friends, and you can also find random encounters, like my Spanish acquaintance, beneficial.

You may get job opportunities, learn new skills or get invited to visit a place you’ve never been before and have a local to show you around town.

10. You pick up strange, but satisfying hobbies and tastes

Who knew that a somewhat clumsy Brit would take to Serbian folk dancing (Kolo) and get quite good at it, or that your average Balkan man would fall in love with British panel shows, and now can’t get enough of them.

I’ve witnessed friends who’ve traveled to China suddenly develop an incredible craving for soy sauce, to the point where they would incorporated into almost every meal. All these things make you a much more interesting person and allow you to see the true beauty of other cultures.

I’m sure everyone who has a good overseas friend will agree with me when I say that, although it can be difficult to be so far apart from someone you enjoy talking to and spending time with, these friendships that cannot be contained by borders have plenty of cool perks as well.

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Featured photo credit: Friends – group of people on travel vacation having fun together. Two couples traveling in Florence, Tuscany, Italy, Europe. via shutterstock.com

More by this author

Ivan Dimitrijevic

Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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